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Maasai men embrace modern family planning methods

Family planning comes with various benefits among them aiding in population planning and control, leading to effective distribution of natural resources, and creating more job for the population.

Family planning also ultimatelly helps in planning for sufficient number of schools, health care services including sanitation facilities, environmental benefits among others.

Since time immemorial, the Maasai community has been using a traditional way of family planning that was not effective and enhanced immorality.

The pregnant mother would separate with the husband during the pregnancy period and re-unite again after breast-feeding the young child.

Immediately after they re-united, the woman would likely fall pregnant in the same year, and the cycle continued.

The Maa men are regarded as the heads of every family; hence they have a vital role to play in the decision of their wives’ uptake of family planning.

This is why the Anglican Development Service (ADS) initiated programmes to educate residents living around the Maasai Mara National Reserve on family planning topics.

When KNA visited the Sekenani area, at the Game Reserve, we found a group of Maasai men adorned in the Maasai regalia, preparing to entertain tourists.

Apart from seeing the wild animals in their natural habitat, the foreign tourists flock the game reserve to see the Maasais, whom they cherish for maintaining their traditions, according to John Muli, a Community Based Distributor in the area.

Muli introduced us to the group of Maasai men, who agreed to spare some minutes to speak to our crew on their experience with the modern family planning methods.

Ben Ole Kaaria, one of the men, appreciated the introduction of modern family planning methods saying it has brought more gains than harm to his family.

“We are grateful to ADS for introducing such an educational programme to us. The rising standard of livelihood has made life become very difficult. Maintaining many children as it was the case before is very hard now,” he said.

Ole Kaaria observed that before, the land was communal and people moved in the vast land grazing their livestock. However, things have changed after land demarcation as it has limited the movement of livestock.

“Everybody is living in his or her personal land. The more children you have, the lesser the land. This is why we appreciate topics on family planning that will help us control the number of children in our families,” Ole Kaaria said.

He reiterated that his wife has been using pills since the trainings began and she has not experienced any side effect.

“Family planning is good. It has helped me to manage my family. I advise all men to encourage their women to go for family planning,” he added.

Another resident, Micah Ole Kiu, admitted that the topics on family planning had enlightened the community on how to plan for a number of children that they could easily manage.

“ADS has been engaging us in family planning topics. Following the teachings that we have got, we now advise our wives to use family planning methods so that we can control the number of children in our families,” he reiterated.

Ole Kiu advised families that have not embraced the concept of family planning to change their mindset so as to have a manageable family.

Brian Mpoe, also a resident of Sekenani area, lauded the ADS programme saying it has taught them to use the modern ways of family planning for their families.

“In the old days, children were wealth to the families. The more children a man had, the wealthier he would be considered,” he recalled.

He continued that the children would not go to school but instead spent their youthful days grazing their father’s livestock, at the expense of education.

However, things have changed in the modern days as the government has put structures in place to ensure every child goes to school, said Mpoe.

“Things are fast changing. In the modern times, many children will translate to digging deeper into their pockets to provide for their basic needs and education. This is why we have to limit the number of children we have,” he added.

On his part, the County Director of Health Dr. Francis Kiio admitted that it was challenging to train the men at first, as they were completely opposed to the modern ways of family planning.

“We first educated the women but realized that the men were opposed to family planning. This brought divisions in the families as the men did not understand why their women were not getting pregnant. However, after the training, the men have embraced the concept,” he said.

He revealed that the most preferred method of family planning in the society was pills and injections, while most families opposed using condoms.

“The family planning methods are given free of charge to the couples. Most women in the village do not prefer using condoms, unlike the women in the market places,” said Muli.

He lauded ADS for introducing the programme, and asked them to continue funding the program to reach more people in the area.

By Ann Salaton

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