October 27, 2015 By Michael Bockarie
Women in Crisis Movement and Action Aid International, in collaboration with Marie Stopes, has engaged the Congo Water, Bangura Mosque, Nicol Terrace and Portee communities in the east-end of Freetown on a campaign themed: “Enhancing Young People Access to Sexual Reproductive Health Rights Information”. The sessions took place on Saturday 24th October.
At Nicol Terrace, Women in Crisis Movement acting Programme Officer, Tommy Tucker, told the gathering that the purpose of the meeting was to inform the participants about the work of Marie Stopes.
Director of the Movement, Mrs. Juliana Konteh, in her welcome address, told participants that she has been working with Action Aid for a very long time and that she is still willing to continue working with them. She said her organisation is also working with other groups as well.
Mrs. Konteh called on the participants to take advantage of the training and several other skills opportunities which the Women in Crisis Movement could offer to make them self-reliant within a short period of time.
Community representative, Chief Ya Alimamy, thanked Marie Stopes for their effort in reducing the number of pregnant girls in the country. She also praised Women in Crisis Movement for empowering women in various communities to be self-reliant.
The local chief noted that women should not always look up to their husbands for everything, but they should engage themselves in career development to make money. She observed that the water crisis in various communities across Freetown is also contributing to teenage girls getting pregnant as they are left by their parents late at night to fetch water for the home.
Some participants raised concerns about their experiences while on family planning.
Ward Committee Development Secretary, Mohamed K. Turay of Ward 356, on behalf of his Councilor, encouraged Marie Stopes and her partners to continue visiting their communities, as the information they are disseminating is vital for school pupils to avoid unwanted pregnancy. He noted that pregnancy disrupts the progress of girls in their educational pursuit.
Action Aid resource person, Hannah Macauley, said Marie Stopes is presently operating in 40 countries in the world and cares for not only women but for men and children as well. She said their organisation helps families give birth to a particular amount of children at their own time and whom they would be able to care for, which is referred to as ‘family planning’.
Madam Macauley further noted that family planning is necessary because most time, women get unwanted pregnancies, and that they do not want to see women attempting to commit abortion as a good number of them die in the process.
She revealed that they have an outreach team which time and again moves into the various communities talking to people and sharing condoms to the public to promote the practice of safe sex. She noted that there are basically three types of family planning: short term, long term, and permanent or forever, adding that each of them has its various side effects but they are not necessarily diseases.
She said when some people are on one of these preventive methods, they complain that it makes them get fat, or they are not experiencing their menstrual cycle. She said it is possible for a woman not to experience her menstrual cycle if one of the preventive methods arrests the egg of a woman thereby making it impossible to go through the normal routine to either cause fertility or menstruation.
“Some people are afraid because of this, thinking that the blood is settling somewhere in their system,” she said.
At the Congo Water community and Bangura Mosque, Marie Stopes’ Octavia Johnson told participants that her organisation has been in existence for about 90 years and in Sierra Leone for about 30 years. She said Marie Stopes engages families with reproductive health for men, women and children.
Madam Johnson noted that the organisation can as well handle other sexually transmitted diseases and malaria, and observed that there are about three types of family planning: short term, ranging between one month and three months; long term, ranging between one year and 12 years; and permanent or forever, which is not reversible unlike the other two methods which could be reversed at any time the individual thinks otherwise.
At the Portee community in the Sierra Leone Muslim Brotherhood School compound, Action Aid’s Augustine Mansaray told participants that they have their head office in the west-end of Freetown, with several other offices in Freetown as well and other parts of the country.
He said family planning is necessary because some people need relationship without a child, some need relationship for children, while others to get just one child. He also observed that some women are not proud of the men that impregnate them, for which he said family planning is very important.
Women in Crisis Movement acting Programme Officer, Tommy Tucker, encouraged the participants to contact Marie Stopes whenever they need additional information on family planning, among others. He further encouraged them to take advantage of the several training skills being offered by Women in Crisis Movement to make them self-reliant. He admonished them to forget about men and concentrate on their careers.
Chairman of the Portee community, who doubles as the Community Animator, Osman Berec Sesay, thanked the participants for attending the training. He implored them to pass on the information to those who were not fortunate to attend the training.
The meetings brought together about four hundred participants in all four communities, targeting one hundred per community.