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Mercy's story: How ActionAid help me take control of my reproductive health

26 years old Mercy, a married mother of three, lives in Zleh Town, Grand Gedeh County. She is a farmer and earns a living selling the products she harvests, using the money she earns to help take care of her family. Up until very recently, Mercy was the only one responsible to taking care of the family. Mercy’s husband recently completed midwifery training and is looking for a job.

 

The community of Zleh’s Town has a population of 4,000 people and 50% of the population are below the age of 18.  In this community, most parents look at sex as a taboo and they do not educate their children on family planning and safe sex practices to prevent unwanted pregnancies. As a result, many teenagers end up pregnant early and some even end up forced into early marriages to avoid stigma.

Mercy became a teenage mother because she had no knowledge of family planning and safe sex practices. After falling pregnant with her first child, she was forced into an early marriage. Not long after, Mercy was forced to drop out of school to look for work. She had to find a way to take care of herself and her child. When she couldn’t find a job, she decided to start a small by kin kon" href="#64080670"> trading business on her own. She would sell small food items in her community and eventually she was able to start growing food on a small piece of land she was able rent/buy. Eventually Mary had two more children, increasing her responsibility. Mercy quickly realised that she needed to be able to plan for her family and prevent unwanted pregnancies.

But she didn’t know what to do or where to start. She had no knowledge of what sexual and reproductive health choices she had.

Then, ActionAid Liberia took our Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) training to Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County. 

For Mercy and many others, it gave them the knowledge to be able to take control of their reproductive health.

Mercy told us, “Thank God ActionAid came to train me and my peer friends in Sexual Productive Health Rights in our community.  My parents did not teach me family planning because they see it as a taboo. Due to this, I got pregnant and I was forced to get marry without my desire.  Now that I have three children, the burden is too much on me, I took the training serious to enable me educate my peer groups on unsafe sex that leads to acquiring disease and unwanted pregnancy. I will put into practice what I have learned especially the different topics treated like: Definition of SRHR, youth sexuality, demographic of SRHR, Body mapping, teenage pregnancy, maternal health, HIV/AIDS, contraceptive/fertility and self-esteem.  I will continue to read about the different topics discussed during the workshop.” 

During one of the training sessions, Mercy was also able to use her life experience to highlight the importance of sexual and reproductive health rights for women and girls. She now feels empowered take care of her sexual and reproductive health and she feels confident that she can help others by sharing the knowledge she learned from our training.

Mercy recommended that ActionAid take our workshop to other communities in Grand Gedeh because of the high rate of teenage and unwanted pregnancies throughout the county.