Updated: Feb 10, 2018
Have you spent countless nights trying to ‘find your purpose?’
If yes, then you are not alone because I have been there too.
Let me take you back to the moment I forged my purpose instead of ‘finding it.’
Summer of 2015. Let’s state the Facts.
See, growing up as young African woman, privileged enough to obtain a formal education, I am aware of the opportunities that are and have been opened for me. I am however, also aware of the many disadvantages others face. This became even more evident when I participated in the Bio Eco-Health study abroad program in Southern Tanzania during the summer of 2015. While there, I had the opportunity to gather qualitative research on my topic of interest -health disparities among girls in rural villages. I had the privilege to talk with the local experts in health and visited various medical facilities (from dispensaries to clinics).
Nearly all of the local experts I had interviewed expressed that the average age of young women having their first pregnancies are often as young as 14 years old. It was also articulated that in a lot of these rural parts of Tanzania, pregnancy is one of the leading causes behind why girls drop out of school.
One of the very first centers visited, was a district hospital located in a nearby town of Iringa, Tanzania. There I spoke with Dr. Azzimonti who stated that in the town of Iringa, although approximately 87% of women chose to deliver at the hospital, the mortality rate was still high. He mentioned that this was usually due to the lack of transport available. These women, thus show up late (not in time) for a successful delivery. However, with the hard work the hospital had been doing, the 2015 mortality rate had gone from 35% to 24%. He also brought up other problems these pregnant women faced--such as the fact that, a lot of the delivered children were HIV positive.
Another facility visited, Kitisi Dispensary, was located in the Kitisi village, Tanzania. The local doctor whom I interviewed expressed that the use of condom or any other contraceptive methods were not taught nor readily available. He stated that most people within the Kitisi village had only finished primary school. The average age of pregnant females from this dispensary were 16 year old and because of this, he mentioned that this led to an increase in the risks of birth complications. These young females typically have had to get C-section because for most, their birth canal is not ready for a natural child birth. He further explained that after performing these C-sections, some of the infants are born with hypoxia—a condition when oxygen can’t get to tissues before and after birth thus, leading the baby to stop breathing after birth. Alongside this, he shared that he has seen many of these girls experience a myriad of psychological problems. The exact statement he made afterwards was,
“…It is just their way of living so they give up and just acknowledge that this is their lives.”
Until this day, those words have stayed with me like a shadow that broods a paralyzing silence.
But I found comfort in this silence. It birthed Lead For Change International.
And that is my WHY.
Farnese Murielle Edimo Motto