Feature: Access to contraceptives benefits Kenyan slum women
By Christine Lagat
NAIROBI, Nov. 7 (Xinhua) — Beatrice Shibunga’s lean figure and smooth face camouflages her actual age and the fact that the 46- year-old has given birth to eight children astonishes her neighbors and acquaintances.
The cheerful community health worker from Korogocho, a densely populated Nairobi slum, epitomizes courage in adversity, and to date, Shibunga’s life journey continues to inspire both friend and foe.
“I was born in Nairobi and gave birth at the age of 13 when I cohabited with my childhood flame. Child bearing was an annual event and at the age of 30, I had eight children,” Shibunga said in an attentive crowd attending a forum on family planning in Nairobi on Thursday.
Like millions of poor mothers in Nairobi slums, Shibunga’s narrative revolved around poverty, ignorance and a fatalistic attitude.
She had no gainful employment as a young mother and providing basic needs to her eight children was a nightmare.
“My three children succumbed to illnesses as poverty stalked every path I trod on. There was no food in the house on most occasions and I could not afford school fees for my children,” Shibunga said.
Shibunga’s life was transformed when she met a social worker who introduced her to a charity organization that was empowering Korogocho mothers.
“We were taught lifelong skills including how to prepare healthy food for our families alongside using contraceptives to limit the number of children. I started using injections and shared the good news to community members,” Shibunga told policymakers, health advocates and journalists attending the family planning forum.
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