Twenty-one-year-old Sharon Ngadire grew up in Bwaise, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Kampala, the capital of Uganda.
The Universal Access Project team met Sharon when she came to a pop-up clinic run by Marie Stopes International (MSI), a USAID-supported international health organization. MSI sets up these temporary clinics every few months to reach people in the lowest income, hardest-to-reach areas of Kampala, and provide free reproductive health information and services focused on HIV/AIDS and family planning. According to Anne Babirye, an MSI nurse, they have had up to 500 people come for one information session at one of their pop-up clinics. Those interested in receiving services can stay afterward for an individual counseling session and provision of long-term contraceptives on-site like IUDs and implants.
Without access to the services provided by MSI, Sharon said her life “would be a disaster, because I would not have been spacing. I would be having some abortions. Because you aren’t able to space children if you are having sexual contact and aren’t protected from STDs, [and] sometimes you don’t have family planning methods. So I would be having abortions … you put there some wires, and then the cervix opens and you put it up.” Sharon added that while she has never had an abortion, she knows other women in her neighborhood who have resorted to self-induced abortions in order to end a pregnancy.
Sharon said someday she would like to have two children, explaining, “Two kids, they are able to be sustained. But more than two, this income has to come in very well. That’s why I like two.” Her ability to plan her family is linked to her ability to build a better life for them. “I want a better future for them. That’s why I’m spacing them,” she said.
Sharon concluded by stressing the importance of access to family planning for all Ugandan women: “Family planning can be important because it helps you to have a better life. Because if you space your children, you can give them a better life. Even for the mother, to be having a better life for her children.” After nurse Baybire counseled her on all contraceptive options, Sharon headed into MSI’s bright blue tent to get an IUD and head back to work.
“Two kids, they are able to be sustained. But more than two, this income has to come in very well. That’s why I like two.”
“Family planning can be important because it helps you to have a better life. Because if you space your children, you can give them a better life. Even for the mother, to be having a better life for her children.”