Many couples struggle with infertility and though infertility is not always a woman’s problem, it is often thought of as only a women’s condition. The African society places passionate premium on procreation in any family setting. The woman’s place in marriage remains precarious till confirmed through child bearing. In the society, a woman has to prove her womanhood through motherhood. The man also has to confirm his manhood in same fashion.
As a woman battling infertility, what should you do amid societal stigmatization? Today, Merck more than a Mother shares part one of Grace Kambini’s story of infertility. Her advice, ‘seek help’! Please read on and stay put for part two of her story.
“I ask myself every day – ‘Who I am in this world? Is this the life I was meant to live?’ there is no one to love or help me” – Grace Kambini.
Fifty-seven year old Grace Kambini popularly known as Mama Chips says she got married out of societal expectations, whereby women are expected to get married to earn respect from their communities.
After nine years in her marriage, she realized that she could not give birth. Both her husband and his relatives started abusing and insulting Grace.
The abuse and insults extended to her home where she was tortured and frequently denied food for weeks at a time. Her husband did not care about her woes.
“I remember asking my husband, how long I will continue to live this misery. He replied -You refuse to leave my house as if your parents are dead, if they are dead you should ask them to open their grave so you may join them. You are of no use to me-. Every time I remember his insult or talk about it, I feel faint and out of breath. Due to the stress I endured I suffered hypertension and Diabetes, now my life is about injecting insulin day and night.” Grace said crying.
She had nowhere to go. Unfortunately, Grace has no living relatives on her mother’s side and her in-laws did not seem to care about her suffering. At one point, Grace’s husband even asked her to go back to her late parent’s home and wake them from their graves so they can accommodate her.
Grace says that she did not have money but she soldiered on. There was a point in her marriage where she missed her periods for a month. The following month she started bleeding excessively instead of getting her period. She was also vomiting profusely.
She decided to seek medical advice to find out what was wrong with her. The doctor advised her to go for an operation since she was pregnant and the fetus was developing in her fallopian tubes instead of the uterus.
Her husband of ten years has divorced her and she started living alone with no one to support or advise her. Life became harder with each passing day.
“I still ask myself “Who I am in this world? Is this the life I was meant to live?” There is no one to love or help me; I have nowhere to go when I travel to the village my brothers’ wives constantly insult me”. She described her desperate situation.
She started her own small business selling chips by the roadside to help sustain her – hence the nickname “Mama Chips”.
Grace advises young couples to visit hospitals regularly and seek solutions as a couple saying, “If I was younger with the knowledge that I have now, I would have explored better fertility options to better my life, but now I am too old”.
About Merck more than a Mother campaign
“Merck more than a Mother” campaign seeks to reduce the stigmatization and social suffering of infertile women in Africa.
“The “Merck more than a Mother” campaign launched the “Empowering Berna” initiative at the recently concluded CSW60, and it aims to empower underprivileged infertile women who have past the stage of receiving treatment. The initiative helps them establish their own small business and build their own independent lives.” Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer, Merck Healthcare.
Stay tuned to see what happened to Grace after Meeting “Merck More than a Mother” and how “Empowering Berna” project has changed her life. If you would like to share your story, please contact email@example.com.
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For more information about infertility, please read here.
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