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A Flicker of Light at the End of the Tunnel

Susan's story...

Susan is a 36-year-old mother of seven children. Born in a rural village in Kyanwanzi district, Susan was the only girl in the family with two brothers. Her mother was very traditional and favored her sons over Susan. As a result, Susan dropped out of school and was relegated to house chores and taking care of her brothers.

“…at 14 years, I got pregnant and had a baby. My mother didn’t want anything to do with me. Life was very hard and I couldn’t raise this child by myself. Therefore, I got married to a man to support me and my child.” Susan shared. “By the age of 20 years, I had had three more children.”

“Living with this man was not easy; he was very abusive. I decided to move out and live on my own with my children. However, this man often came to my house and beat me. I needed help… I thought I would get it from another man. This other man proposed to marry me and we moved away from that area.”

Susan had three more children with this man. She later found out that the man was already married and had seven other children. Devasted, Susan moved in with her older daughter and grandson.

In 2015, during a visit to the health facility, Susan decided to take an HIV test. “They said I had HIV” she shares with tears in her eyes. Am I going to die? Who is going to take care of my children?... These are the questions that ran through my mind.” She adds.

There was a health education session on family planning at the facility and in that moment with the bad news she had just received, Susan decided to go for the five-year implant to prevent any more pregnancies.

Later, and well into her ARVs medication, Susan realized she was pregnant, again...

“I couldn’t have another baby.” Susan says. “How did this happen?” she pondered. “I had to find a way to have an abortion” which she did. She later had an Intra-Uterine Contraceptive Device (IUCD) inserted but had serious side effects and other complications including heavy bleeding and dizziness.

It’s at this time that Hanis - the InPACT community mobiliser visited Susan at her home. Hanis counseled her and they discussed several health- related matters including the full range of FP methods available to her to prevent more pregnancies, and their possible side effects.

After the counselling session with Hanis, Susan requested for a referral to the Health Center IV “with these seven children and a grandson, I need to [permanently] stop having children.” She pondered.

Susan was referred and had the IUCD removed in preference of the Bilateral Tubal Ligation (BTL). Since she got the BTL, she is now a happy and more productive woman and member of her community.

Innovation Program for Community Transformation (InPACT) in partnership with Pathfinder International under the USAID funded Uganda Family Planning Activity (UFPA) Project are reaching several vulnerable girls and women like Susan in the districts of Kyankwanzi and Kibaale with the much-needed family planning information and services.

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