When Olaoluwa and Oluwatoyin Ajewole got married, the future looked bright; they would have 3 children and live comfortably in their own house in a highbrow area of Lagos state. They had figured that their modest income as a businessman and teacher would be enough to take care of their 3 children. Reality would however soon set in, as the couple had underestimated the influence in-laws wielded in their culture. Oluwatoyin recalls what changed their plans.

After our third child, my mother in-law started pestering me to have more children; there was also a bit pressure from my mother too. My mother in-law gave birth to 2 Children, my husband and his sister, while my parents gave birth to 6 children but only 3 of us survived. This made my mother in-law pester and beg me to have more children to be on the ‘safe side’; at a point I had no choice than to give in to her pressure and begging.

32 years down the line, after about 12 pregnancies and 8 live-births, it’s a completely different picture for 52-year-old Oluwatoyin “We had a dream of living in a choice area like Magodo or Ikoyi, and also had the plan of having 3 children. However, the responsibility of taking care of more children swept away all the dreams we had, now see the kind of life we are living”.

Olaoluwa on his own part lived with fears for the better part of his 32-year marriage to Oluwatoyin. His wife recalls that he would often refer to her as a pig, based on the popular Yoruba parlance, saying “My wife is like a pig, at one touch she would get pregnant”. After the 12th pregnancy, Olaoluwa started avoiding his wife for fear of another pregnancy, even going as far as having an affair with another woman who promised not to get pregnant for him.

The Ajewoles

Things took a turn for the better when Olaoluwa attended the naming ceremony of Mohammed and Alimat Alede’s baby on the 15th of January, 2017. Olaoluwa engaged with the social mobilizer, Opeyemi Eduwande, who enlightened him some more about modern FP methods and he immediately took her to his wife. The Get It Together was present at the key life event and spoke about the benefits of family planning.

Oluwatoyin’s relief is palpable as she excitedly shares “I have been on the IUD for over 2 years now and we have been enjoying ourselves with no fear of getting pregnant”. Oluwatoyin was full of thanks for the campaign, adding that she is now an advocate of family planning as she has also introduced its benefits to most of her friends.

 One of such friends is 41-year-old Mrs Olubunmi Taiwo, a mother of 4 and a full-time housewife. The Taiwos story is similar to the Ajewoles, as they also planned to stop childbearing after the third child and focus on raising them. Their plans were soon disrupted as Mrs Taiwo got pregnant again. As they were not on any family planning method, another pregnancy came in not too long after the previous one and they ended up having their fourth child.

Mrs. Taiwo notes, “It was my friend who introduced family planning to me, this kind gesture has made our friendship stronger because we are both happier now, unlike before, and we have been talking proudly about “Get It Together” with mothers in the community

Mrs Olubunmi Taiwo who heard about Family Planning from The Ajewoles

This chain of events, set off by one act of sharing a message on the benefits of modern FP methods at a naming ceremony, is recording far-reaching impact in this community. A series of these kind of cascade effects are essential to achieving the NURHI 2 vision of making family planning a social norm.

Already, the cascade effect seen in the story of the Ajewoles and Taiwos is replicated across communities where NURHI works, thanks to passionate mobilizers like Opeyemi Eduwande who set off the cascade of events at a key life event.

Opeyemi Eduwande is popularly called “Mama ki lasiri ewa re” (The ‘What is the secret of your beauty’ woman) in the community; a popular Get it Together campaign slogan that also appears on mobilizers’ t-shirts. This super mobilizer would regularly attend key life events to raise awareness on family planning and has featured on the Se’rigbo radio program. Opeyemi states that her passion is borne out of experiences she had.

I never had a good upbringing, so when I had the opportunity (to volunteer) with NURHI, I thought that I could make a change in the community where I live. The poverty level around here is crazy; a community where husband and wife have no job and use sex as a way to console themselves, hence giving birth to children that they cannot cater for.

 

Passionate Get It Together mobilizer, Opeyemi Eduwande

Opeyemi adds that “whenever any woman takes up a method and the feedback is good, that alone is enough motivation for me and my joy is full”.

With sustainability, scale-up and encouraging ownership at the heart of NURHI 2, passionate mobilizers like Opeyemi Eduwande are critical to making family planning a social norm.

The Centre for Communication and Social Impact (CCSI) is a core partner on the NURHI project. CCSI supports the intermediary outcome ‘Increased demand for family planning by women and men’; which incorporates Life Planning for Adolescents and Youth (LPAY). CCSI also actively supports institutionalization of the NURHI social mobilization model, working closely with the NURHI 2 team and structures at the State and LGA level.

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