Members of the Anglican church Musanze undergoing training on family planning methods.
As part of efforts to promote awareness on family planning Society for Family Health (SFH) services in Musanze District have turned to the church as a mobilisation platform.
To this end, in December last year the only Social Marketing Organisation in Rwanda, SFH, moved to sign an annual memorandum of understanding with the Anglican church of Musanze.
According to Speciose Musabe, the coordinator of Mothers Union attached to the Anglican Church Shyira Diocese of Musanze, a total 30 of their members have already been trained as peer educators on family planning-related issues. She clarifies that most Christians misinterpret the bible’s position on family planning, “because God calls for man to procreate and fill the world doesn’t mean one should have so many children they are not able to look after.” “Everyone would wish their children go to good schools and also have good medical care but this is impossible if there is no birth control,” Musabe adds.
Rev. Providence Murorunkwere, the assistant coordinator of Mother’s Union, says they also take advantage of church fellowships and concerts to spread family planning messages to the congregation. She says they are planning door-to-door activities so as to extend family planning messages, and about 3,000 homes are being targeted this year alone.
“We are just volunteers in this because we believe advocating for family happiness is our obligation as mothers, SFH money simply helps with logistics,” she notes. According James Biryingiro, the Northern region team leader, places of worship are ideal centres of spreading family planning messages. “These institutions (places of worship) being powerful agenda setters, we felt it’s important to partner with them if family planning practices will ever take root,” he says. Biryingiro adds that plans are also under way to involve other denominations.
He says another family planning strategy called “Mobile Family Planning days” is used where residents in the district are given free family planning products like pills, injectables and condoms. “We refer those who need complex methods like implants to hospitals and health centres,” Biryingiro notes. He says they hire about five counsellors from every sector providing them with technical support, who give counseling services to residents on family planning product’s use and handling.
Financial support used in running the program is provided by USAID – RSMP through SFH Rwanda “We believe family planning is an important tool in the reduction of maternal, child mortality rates, unwanted pregnancies, poverty and food insecurity,” he says.
Biryingiro says the district health officer helps them identify the areas that are most in need of family planning services before they get to work.