SHAPE project shaped my life
Twenty nine year old Samuel Ofwono’s childhood had a rocky start. He did not have such a beautiful and intimate relationship with his parents. At twelve years, Samuel was already working in people’s gardens in order to make a contribution to their family’s survival. He attributes this to a big number of children his father had. He was born in a family of 12. “We were many children in our family and all of us competed for the little resources including parental love. Nobody enjoyed the presence of our father because he had a large family to take care of,” recalls Samuel. He says that he begun fending for his tuition, clothing and feeding as early as 12 years by digging in other people’s garden for a little pay. “My father couldn’t afford school needs for all of us and this was the same with our neighbours’ children. Some of them grew up undisciplined and as a result, they’re leading wasteful lives due to lack of parental guidance which was caused by having a big number of children.” One day, there was a dialogue on family planning conducted by a youth champion in his community. The discussion was supported by Action 4 Health Uganda (A4HU) in partnership with DSW (Deutsche Stiftung Wetbevolkerung) through its “Securing Health through People’s Empowerment” SHAPE. In the meeting, he was equipped with information about family planning which has helped not to fall in the same family trap like his parents. He says during the dialogue, A4HU, taught him about benefits of family planning and the need to advocate through all levels to garner support for increment in family planning funding plus addressing local government policies on family planning. Today, Samuel is a committed advocate and supporter of family planning. Together with his wife Manjeri Akoth 28, they’ve spaced their children birth in the following order; 12 years, 8 and 4. He is able to cater for school needs and take care of his children with little effort because of the knowledge and participation in the district advocacy meetings about family planning. “ I am a champion and an advocate of family planning services among my peers because of SHAPE. It has equipped me with the knowledge to advocate for family planning and I’ve attended meetings and advocacy events organized by SHAPE youth networks and that is why my life has changed. My wife and I agreed to stop giving birth to children and care for these three God given ones,” said Samuel. Unlike the generation of his father, he is able to plan and provide for his family because of the impact brought about by increment in family planning budget at his sub-county, in Tororo District. Thanks to A4HU for the SHAPE project which advocates for increment in family planning budget and information about the advantages of family planning. “My friends in the nearby communities haven’t got the opportunity to be empowered by SHAPE youth champions so I call upon A4HU and DSW to expand this project to other areas,” he said.