Abortion is something I can never try again I told myself. I almost lost my life after I carried out the crude abortion which would have meant the end of my dreams as a young rural girl who has the opportunity to acquire an education. Following the events after I left the drugstore where I had the abortion the following thoughts ran through my mind: what would have happened to my mother who challenged the status quo to send a girl to school if I had died because of crude abortion? How will that have affected the lives of other girls in my community? Will I ever be able to have children in future when I get married? Can I resist the urge to have sexual intercourse now that I had discovered the feeling it gives?
With all these on my mind I felt really troubled. I knew something had to be done for if I continued the way I used to do I might repeat the experience I just had. This was not a topic I could discuss anyhow within my community. My mother, even if she had the information, could not talk about it with me because it will belittle her as a parent. My friends on the other hand were not better than I was. Generally, unwanted pregnancy and STIs were a real issue among the girls of my generation implying that all of us needed help. Surprisingly the story is still the same today.
I had the vision to succeed. In order to achieve this, I thought I had to avoid having anything to do with a man. Hahahahaha for how long could I have kept that promise? I had had just a bitter experience of abortion but the reality of lack of basic needs and education on how to manage my sexuality had not changed. I needed to provide for myself as well as be in line with what my peers were doing. After serious thoughts I decided to meet an elderly friend who had just come in from the “coast”.
It was common knowledge that she was more experienced than we were. I remember how she would give us some pills to take - usually 28 of them on a card. Interestingly, she prescribed and gave these to any one irrespective of their age, health situation and all. An added issue to her manner of prescription was our inability to strictly comply to dosage of those pills. One had to hide from their parents or others before taking them. Given the farming system in our village it was normal to skip a dose because one couldn’t find an appropriate opportunity to take the pill.
The situation never improved because we still had cases of unwanted pregnancy. I was very worried. I needed some method of confidence. Like a dream come true I came to town for a visit and met the solution as I had thought. During one of my visits to my sick auntie in the hospital, I had the opportunity to listen to lectures on the prevention of HIV/AIDS. Condoms were shared but out of ignorance many didn’t take them home. Since I had learned it could be used as protective I took all I could. I left them at my boyfriend’s place and we used them happily. Frankly I later on realized my boyfriend was one in a million. Many of my friends who were willing to try my new solution couldn’t because the men/boys didn’t want to use them. Many myths surrounded the use of condoms as well as other preservatives. This situation is what inspired me to start speaking out on these issues.
Many years after my experience, the situation hasn’t changed much. Yes, there is the growing awareness on the existence of preservatives but taboos and high level of ignorance is thwarting any progress that can be made in that direction. During a two weeks campaign that I had in my community on holidays free of unwanted pregnancy and abortion, I realized that the gap of getting my community people use preservatives as well as understand that managing ones’ sexuality is a right has to be filled. The experiences I had during this exercise are not the best. Some parents branded me as the person who wants to increase sexual immorality within the community because I dared to talk on a subject that society considers a no go area.
For a year now I am running the Every Girl for Any Girl initiative where my organization moves from school to school and talking to young girls on issues concerning their sexuality. Last year we worked with four schools within my community. This year we are extending to eight schools. Our biggest dream is to have social clinics where these girls can go to have issues of their sexuality discussed without fear of being judged or intimidated.