When Simon Chacha married his wife Sophia in 2006, his aim was to have three children, irrespective of their gender.
And 10 years into the marriage, the resident of Nyasese village in Kuria West, Migori County had already achieved his target.
With little knowledge in family planning, the Form Two dropout was blessed with one more baby, prompting him to seek advice from friends on how to ‘stop his wife from unwarranted pregnancies’.
“We had tried to use traditional means of abstaining and only coming together during her safe periods, but that didn’t work, and we ended up with the fourth baby whom we had no plans for,” said Chacha.
His situation replicates in the life of Pastor John Mwita, a resident of Nyamaraga in Isbania, a father of five who had planned to have not more than three kids.
The head of the flock at Nyamaraga Baptist Church was well aware of Genesis 9:7 which says ‘As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it,’ but had reservation to full compliance.
“The same Bible, in Proverbs 2:6 says ‘For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding,’ and I needed to make a wise decision,” said Mwita.
The two men have become the face of family planning campaigns in the patriarchal Kuria community, with the aim of reducing family burdens.
When the Standard caught up with him at Borderview Medical Clinic at Isbania near Kenya-Tanzania Border, Chacha had accompanied his wife for a regular observation.
After being laughed off by friends, he had sought the help of a doctor who talked to him over family planning which would help him control the number of children he wanted.
“My wife was not aware that I was disturbed and was trying to find a solution to unwarranted children, so when I got the right information and approached her, she had no option but to accept it,” said the casual laborour.
According to Chacha, and economic times have hit many families in the area, a situation which has lowered the quality of life.
Having been brought up in a large family, only two out of the 12 members of his family managed to complete secondary education.
“School fees became a big problem, coupled with the basic needs. We had to drop out of school, and I vowed never to repeat the same mistake,” he said.
Pastor Mwita has turned his church into a family planning school, and no summon goes without a statement of encouragement of his flock to employ family planning.
“At first I would identify some people and speak to them on the topic, but with time I have developed a thick skin as many people want to know more about the topic,” he said.
Both Chacha and Mwita have become instrumental in the campaign with the two becoming ‘fishers of men’ in the family planning program. Both their wives have already embraced the three year implant method.
According to head of Borderview Medical Centre David Martin Ogola, male involvement in family planning has increased, with three out of every 10 cases of new family planning inquiries done by men.
“Mostly men come to ask questions about the myths which come with family planning, and upon getting the correct information, they have been coming with their spouses,” said Ogola.
Ogola said the facility has been receiving support from non-governmental organizations which are involved in reproductive health, such as Kisumu Medical and Education Trust (KMET), which include training and medical equipment to help meet the high demand for the services.
Previously, men had to abstain for seven months after getting a baby, and Kerata says this would allow women to regain their health, and also create a natural gap in family planning.