Jackqueline grew up in Sibona, a small village on Uganda’s border with Kenya, in a small hut with no electricity or running water along with her five siblings. Her parents were smallholder farmers, and Jackqueline dropped out of school in 8th grade when her father passed away and her mother was unable to afford school fees for her and sisters. “Growing up, the priority was given to the boys … so my younger brother was educated, but they did not really care about the girl children,” Jackqueline explained. “I feel bad about that, because I really wanted to go to school, but I couldn’t go.”
Jackqueline with her husband and four of her children outside their home, from which she distributes family planning information and services, in Busia, Uganda.
With little education and limited employment options available to women in rural Uganda, Jackqueline followed in her mother’s footsteps. She married, had seven children, and works as a farmer in a village not far from the one where she grew up.
As her family grew larger, Jackqueline began to worry about growing enough food to feed her children and earning enough to send them to school: “I saw that the children were becoming more and I could not afford to take care of them.” This is when she decided to start using family planning, saying, “I think family planning is important because right now we do not have enough food in our gardens; we’ve had a very long dry spell … So family planning helps us to plan for the children to have a number that we can feed, a number that we can clothe, a number that we can comfort well.”
But she didn’t stop there. Jackqueline was so moved by the importance of family planning to the lives of the women in her village, she decided to become trained by USAID-supported NGO FHI360 as a village heath worker. “I really feel it in my heart I should work for this community. When I am talking to the fellow women, I am moved to serve them, and that’s why I decided to do this kind of work,” she says.
Jackqueline distributes a whole range of contraceptive options from pills to three-month injections, while referring for long-term methods like IUDs, to women in her village. Some women were walking two hours roundtrip to reach a clinic to receive family planning, only to arrive to empty shelves, Jackqueline explained. Now she brings it right to their front doors.
Jackqueline on a home visit delivering contraception to one of her neighbors.
Jackqueline’s life and the lives of the women and girls in her village are being transformed thanks to the training she received from a U.S.-funded NGO and contraceptives provided by the UN Population Fund. U.S. funding is vital in Uganda, where the U.S. provides almost $14 million for family planning, the backbone of Uganda’s reproductive health budget.
Despite these critical investments, demand is still outstripping supply in Uganda, where 1 in 3 women have an unmet need for family planning. Countries like Uganda have long relied on donor countries to cover the cost of contraceptives, but today the world is facing a contraceptive crisis, with a funding gap of at least $847 million.
Jackqueline with several of the women in her village to whom she provides contraceptive information and services.
The international community, with the U.S. in the lead, has the opportunity to increase its support for international family planning programs in Uganda and other countries to ensure Jackqueline, her neighbors, and every woman around the world can choose when, whether, and how many children she has. Click here to learn more and take action.
“When I talk to the fellow women, I am moved to serve them, and that’s why I decided to do this kind of work.”
“I think family planning is important because right now we do not have enough food in our gardens…”