“I am tired, the suffering is too much. There is peace here, but no money.”
On 2 June 2014, Fatima’s life was thrown into turmoil, when soldiers attacked her village in northern Nigeria, killing many of her friends and neighbours.
“Boko Haram incidents killed 32 people in my village, so that’s why I ran. Two of my children died then."
Fatima is 40 years old and has given birth to 13 children, six of whom are still alive. Two were killed during Nigeria’s Gwoza massacre, when militants dressed as soldiers slaughtered at least 2,000 civilians in her village and those surrounding it.
Now settled in a nearby village, Fatima’s family have been given some land to farm on, but times are hard and putting food on the table, when there are eight mouths to feed, is an ongoing challenge.
Boko Haram incidents killed 32 people in my village, so that’s why I ran. Two of my children died then.
“Our village is still not settled, so it is better for us to stay here. But we are only living by faith. I am tired, the suffering is too much. There is peace here, but no money. It is very difficult to support our children. We don’t have much food.”
Fatima and her husband took the decision to start using family planning after a meeting with Marie Stopes Nigeria team members, when they visited the area.
“That’s how I got the information to start. Most people had the implant, but I chose to have the IUD. They said any time I’m tired of it, I can come for a removal. But I am very happy with it. I am tired of giving birth. I don’t want to give birth again.”
Faith is working in one of Marie Stopes Nigeria’s outreach teams covering the north-east part of the country, the area where Fatima has temporarily settled.
“We don’t have IDP camps here in Gombe as we live in a more peaceful part, but we do have displaced people in host communities. They come here to find safety and we help those women with family planning too if they want it.
Faith organises group counselling sessions at local community settings, where she provides women with information about contraception, something they have often never had access to before. She told us that many women are interested in avoiding pregnancy, but still feel the need to access contraception secretly.
“At the end of my sessions, the women often go away and pretend to go home and then come back again 30 minutes or an hour later, when the group has gone, to access the methods.”
They were living in the bush or forest. But they were so afraid of becoming pregnant in such an uncertain environment. So when they heard there was family planning, they still rushed to come and get it.
“Sometimes we go out into the more troubled areas. Last year, we went to visit the Jigawa community, and at that time, that place was not peaceful at all. But the women were rushing to come round to collect our services, even when they were being chased from their homes.
“It was very heart wrenching. They were living in the bush or forest. But they were so afraid of becoming pregnant in such an uncertain environment. So when they heard there was family planning, they still rushed to come and get it, and then ran back to where they were hiding again.
“That shows how much these services are wanted by women here.”