Cloudy with a Little Chance of Pregnancy

PSI-Trained Health Workers Brave Elements to Educate Women

By Alia McKee, Sea Change Strategies

It’s cloudy and the still air is threatening a downpour. M.J. – the health worker who minutes earlier entertained and educated 50 women about family planning at the Centre De Sante Bomoi clinic – looks up at the sky.

“This is the hardest thing,” she says. “We go to churches. We go to service stations. We go to homes. We’re always on foot. The rain and the blazing sun just get in the way. We still go out. But it’s tough.”

M.J. wants to help women in Congo learn about family planning and their options. “When they meet me, it’s often the first time they’ve heard about all of the contraception options. They understand the economics and the health benefits right away.”

Centre De Sante Bomoi, Family planning, IPC, PSI-trained health worker M.J., Mary Jane, also called “Mama Confianz”

Centre De Sante Bomoi, Family planning, IPC, PSI-trained health worker M.J., Mary Jane, also called “Mama Confianz”

“I got trained in healthcare and I heard that ASF was looking for trainers to educate people about family planning. I thought it would be a good job for me.”

M.J. applied and was accepted. She received training and she learned how to talk about family planning in public places like markets and in the privacy of people’s homes.

“The women I work with see me out walking and call me ‘Mama Confiance.’ They tell me I helped change their ways.”

She remembers one woman she recently met. “She was having a baby every year and was miscarrying all the time. We got her to come here and get an implant with her husband.”

What about unmarried women? “We’ll talk with the mother and see if she can convince her daughter to use family planning. I feel it’s important to reach young people too.”

When she’s not working – which isn’t often – she cooks and helps prepare bags of water that her son sells in the street for extra money.

Never one to rest long, she’s off to her next appointment. As she leaves, she says, “Be a faithful ambassador. Please showcase these women. There is need, but there is also something that is delivering impact.”

The numbers show the success indeed. In the first quarter of 2016, this clinic has reached almost as many women with long-lasting reversible contraception as they did during the entire year of 2015 – 344 to be exact.

MJ and her team have their sights set high.