“I like the job because it gives me an avenue to help women.”
Faith, outreach nurse in north-east Nigeria
Faith Pyentim is one of MSI’s Ladies in Blue, traveling far and wide as an outreach nurse to take information and contraception directly to women who can’t make it to our centers.
Faith is part of an outreach team making choice possible in the north-east region of Nigeria, an area of the country troubled by conflict, displacement and extreme poverty. Most people here work in agriculture and many struggle to provide for their often-large families.
Sharing her time between the MSI regional office and field work, Faith travels into different communities around Gombe State and adjacent areas, talking to women in communities and their homes, about contraception and how to prevent pregnancy. Her careful counseling gives women the chance to take control of their futures.
“I see families where daughters have had so many abortions. In Taraba State – the state next to ours – one girl came to us and she was smelling bad, so we knew there was infection. We did a manual vacuum aspiration and then gave her contraception. She is doing pretty well now. She was 17 then, unmarried with a child at home already, and now she doesn’t have the fear of getting pregnant again. Last time I talked to her, she told me she was going back to school.”
Faith organizes group counselling sessions at local community settings. For many of the women, these sessions are the first time they’ve had information about—or access to—contraception. She told us that many women are interested in avoiding pregnancy, but taboos and stigma make them feel they need to access contraception secretly.
“Most women here believe that everything about reproductive health should be secretive. So, at the end of my sessions, the women often go away and pretend to go home, then they come back again 30 minutes or an hour later, when the group has gone, to access the methods.”
“It’s not that they don’t want [contraception], but they are shy to disclose they are doing something like this because they feel their religion is against it. They even ask us to come to their house to give it to them secretly.”
Bringing contraception to conflict zones
Faith also works with Nigeria’s displaced communities, with women who have had to leave their homes because of prolonged conflict in Nigeria’s Yobe region.
“We don’t have camps in Gombe as we live in a more peaceful part, but we do have some of those displaced people in host communities. They come here to find safety and we help those women with family planning, too.”
“We sometimes go out into the troubled areas as well. 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.”
Faith and her team know what a difference contraception can make for the women they serve. That’s why they go wherever they’re needed and help clients who need to access services discreetly. In long days of outreach and quiet conversations at someone’s home, they’re bringing choice to communities across north-east Nigeria.
Choices make women bold.
These bold women make choice possible.
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