Planning Futures, Saving Lives
In our last three posts leading up to International Women’s Day last Sunday, Kupona celebrated a few of the many women that inspire us. We had so many stories of inspirational people to choose from that we couldn’t stop there. Now, every quarter, we are going to shine the spotlight on inspiring individuals that are overcoming countless obstacles and making a monumental impact upon the Tanzanian community.
To kick off this regular installment, we highlight the accomplishments and contributions of Nurse Stella, lead nurse at Tim’s Corner Family Planning Center at CCBRT. Nurse Stella offers quality, confidential family planning counseling to CCBRT patients and staff. Through her work, Tim’s Corner makes family planning information universally available to patients and staff at CCBRT. This means patients with disabilities and marginalized populations are empowered to make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.
Keeping it in the family
A registered nurse since 1986, Stella comes from a family of nurses.
“In my family, my sister is a nurse, my younger mother (aunt) is a nurse. It is a profession that is common in my family. When I was doing general nursing, I did maternity care. This is how I became interested in family planning.”
Empowering families through education
Stella has seen many clients pass through the doors at Tim’s Corner. Some clients, however, stand out.
“An 18-year-old fistula patient came to me. Her baby died during delivery at the hospital in the remote area where she gave birth…Most women in the rural areas don’t know about family planning. She was also very young, She was not married so I talked to her about family planning.”
Through Stella’s counseling, the patient opted for contraceptives that would help her avoid pregnancy as her body healed from fistula, and plan future pregnancies safely. For women who have never had family planning counseling before, dispelling the myths surrounding contraception is often the first hurdle.
“Last week,” Stella says, “I met a man of 25 years. He had a 22-year-old wife with two children…He thought his wife should get family planning, but his wife didn’t want to use it. I asked him to bring the wife to me so that I could explain the advantages and disadvantages of family planning. When I talked with her, she said that her mother did not use family planning so she did not use it. She didn’t know anything about family planning before we spoke. After I talked to her, she decided that family planning was a good choice for their family. I was feeling very proud about that. I was happy that I could share this information with her so that she could feel knowledgeable about options for her health and her family.”
The Bigger Picture
As a nurse, her clients’ health is Stella’s first priority, and safely spaced pregnancies are critical to reducing a woman’s risk of complications during pregnancy and childbirth. But family planning can have a much wider impact upon the overall well-being of a family unit.
“When a woman uses family planning, it helps to improve her health status and care for her family. Family planning helps to limit the size of families and make sure the size of the family is right for the family’s income.”
Healthier women mean healthier families and stronger communities.
“If a mother gives birth to many children, sometimes the family cannot afford to send all of the children to school or buy them clothes or food. Those are things that could be difficult. If we can talk about family planning, women will only have the number of children that they can manage.”
“At this time, many women do talk about family planning. Before this time, family planning was only talked about for married women. Now unmarried women will talk about it because they realize they need it too. Still some women are ashamed to talk about it.”
Stella will keep the conversation going at Tim’s Corner, keeping in mind that family planning’s first beneficiaries are often young women. By postponing their pregnancies, girls and young women can finish their education, pursue job opportunities, and fully participate in their society.
We are so grateful to have Stella’s expertise at Tim’s Corner Family Planning Center, and thank her for her dedication to family and maternal health!