It is early in the morning, fresh air is felt and birds can be heard singing as a group of eight old men sit together to discuss family welfare.
These are members of Turuhure Abagore Bacu association loosely translated as ‘Let us relieve our wives’.
The men decided to opt for vasectomy as the way of birth control after they realized their wives have been victims of effect of the former while it should be a shared one.
Turuhure Abagore Bacu is an association formed by the men who opted for vasectomy in Rulindo District in a bid to sensitize other men to join the drive so as to alleviate their wives challenges which sometimes faced as they use various contraceptive methods.
The association has been created for about a decade ago as explained by its chairman Anastase Kanyamahanga.
“This association was formed in 2007, we were then only three members who came out with the idea, but after mobilizing our colleagues, we got a number of participants and now we have forty five active members,” He explains
Members of the association boast that the association has helped them get relevant information about the involvement of a man in family planning process and consequently committed themselves to relieve their wives who sometimes met various allergies associated with methods they applied.
“Whenever my wife took tablets as family planning method, she immediately had continuous periods, due to this I said ‘I had to help my wife’, I negotiated with her and she signed for me before I went for the vasectomy” say Eduard Habumugisha, from Kinihira Sector.
Through the association, various messages on vasectomy are spread by community health workers and a lot of men decided to change their mind and opted for vasectomy.
“The association first helped me change the mind, we had given birth to 4 children and had a will to keep producing a lot of children, so the association swept away that poor beliefs and I remained with that number of children, if kept giving births I would have more than ten children for the moment,” says Etienne Sebazungu, regretting “If I had known the vasectomy I wouldn’t have given birth to many children,”
Turuhure Abagore Bacu members disseminate messages and testimonies about the vasectomy via monthly community works (Umuganda), different meetings led by local official and through evening parents forums (Umugoroba w’Ababyeyi) among other ways.
Clement Ngarambe, the director of Kinihira Heath Centre says that men’s involvement in family planning is on the right move thanks to ‘the great work that association is doing.
However, Ngarambe Calls on entire men to showcase their involvement in family planning opting vasectomy as it is consequence free, “It is a reliable method which has been searched on and approved by experts in health, moreover our government should not bring an initiative which harms its population’s health.”
Members of the association substantiate that stopping giving birth to uncontrolled children led them to sustainable development together with their families and they are confident that the future will be so vivid.
“I can now afford shelters to my children; I am able to pay for them the community health based Insurance (Mutelle de Santé), I pay their school without any quagmire,” cites Bernard Majoro, 45, father to five children.
Each member of the Turuhure Abagore Bacu contributes a total amount of Rwf1000 at the end of every month and with that funds they managed to buy for each other livestock including goats and sheep and “the objective is to reach the level of having cows by end of next year” as said by Anastase Kanyamahanga the association’s chairman.
However, members of the association say they need to spread testimonies on vasectomy as part of their mission so as to help other men who are still unaware of the method but cite the lack of means to do so as a hindrance.
“All that we wish is the support to be able to tour different parts of our country sensitizing men to join vasectomy drive as it is very important to every one’s future. At the beginning we had a sponsor who used to help us touring but his contract has expired and we remained alone,” as said by Mr. Kanyamahanga.
Figures from the fifth Rwanda Demographic and Health Survey (2014-15 RDHS) show that women in Rulindo District opt for different types of family planning methods more than men, the survey demonstrates that 55% of women in the district use any method, 51% use any modern method while 5% use any traditional methods
Jean d’Amour Manirafasha, the director of heath in Rulindo District, says the district counts a total of 292 men who have decided on vasectomy so far, stressing that the record has been attained thanks to the collaborative efforts by heath sectors, grassroots leaders and individuals among others.
“There was several campaigns held by not only heath sectors but also local government official as well as opinion leaders, thus it led to disseminate vasectomy messages widely in the district,” he says.
“We also used an advanced strategy whereby we reached out to anyone who preferred the vasectomy rather than he himself travels miles of distance coming to look for the service” He adds.
Reacting to the wish of Turuhure Abagore Bacu members, Manirafasha promises that the district got another partner who will support the association to tackle their challenges.
“We are lucky as the SFH Rwanda recently pledged itself to keep supporting our activities, so we are about to resume the strategy of using the association members giving testimony via touring various parts of the district and countrywide.”