Planning for Healthier, Happier Families
Aalima, 25, is from a low income family in Ranjhapur village of Taluka Thul in Jacobabad District, Sindh. Aalima’s parents married her off to Abdul Sattar, who was thirty years older than her and already married, when she was only 15 years old.
Aalima is a house wife and bears the dual responsibility of caring for her own family as well as her husband’s children from his first wife. She handles all the household chores and also looks after the livestock. Abdul is a farmer by profession and earns around Rs. 12,000 (USD 120 approximately) per month. Aalima conceived soon after her marriage, but grew very weak and pale. In her 7th month, she gave premature birth to a boy, Feroz Khan, with the help of a local Traditional Birth Assistant (TBA), but unfortunately, Feroz passed away when he was only five days old.
To her surprise, Aalima learnt that she had conceived again within 40 days of her first delivery, and gave birth to a boy, Arif Khan. This was followed by continuous births of her six children, three girls and three boys, out of which one daughter, Aleeza, passed away due to meningitis at the age of six months. The consecutive pregnancies affected Aalima’s health negatively. She felt lethargic, unhappy and couldn’t breastfeed her children properly. Due to the heavy burden of household work, she also couldn’t provide proper attention to her children.
As luck would have it, Save the Children arranged a reproductive health awareness session in Aalima’s village as part of its project titled ‘Family Planning and Post Abortion Care’ (FP and PAC). The Project mainly focuses on increasing the availability and utilisation of modern FP and PAC services in seven health facilities in close collaboration with Department of Health (DoH) in Shikarpur and Jacobabad, by providing trained staff, sufficient supplies, awareness campaigns for the community and development of infection prevent systems in all health facilities. Baji Asma, Save the Children’s Outreach Worker (ORW), informed Aalima about the importance of family planning during the health awareness session and advised her to visit Taluqa Headquarters (THQ), Thul, for a detailed medical checkup.
Following Asma’s advice, Aalima convinced her husband to accompany her to the health facility. At the THQ, a lady doctor, Dr. Resham, told Aalima that she was very weak and needed injectable iron to overcome her iron and vitamin deficiency. Even though Abdul did not have the money to buy the injection, Aalima was able to get the treatment at the health facility free of cost.
Aalima has benefitted greatly from the guidance provided to her by the staff at THQ, Thul. She is now determined to improve her health. She not only utilises different family planning methods but also informs other women in her family and neighborhood about the importance of healthcare during pregnancy and space between child births. Aalima’s awareness has also changed her husband’s perspective on family planning and he supports her decision to use family planning methods. She says:
"It is my goal to create awareness about the importance of family planning by sharing my experience, because a mother can give birth to a healthy child only if she is healthy too.”