This blog post was contributed by Peris Wakesho, one of the fifteen Young Champions of Maternal Health chosen by Ashoka and the Maternal Health Task Force at EngenderHealth. She will be blogging about her experience every month, and you can learn more about her, the other Young Champions, and the program here.
This is Takuti village, in Niger State, Nigeria, Lapai Local government. It is approximately a 1 hour and 20-mintue drive from Minna town. It is a community that seems greatly underserved. (Niger State is one of the 36 states in Nigeria and Minna is the capital of the state).
The Nupe community is a closely-knit community (Niger state has Hausa, Nupe and Gwari as the major tribes).
The children looked between 1 and 2-years old, with 5 pregnant women counted barely 2 minutes after arrival. Amidst all these, one woman captured my attention: tall, slim, seemingly pregnant and still breast feeding a baby who looked barely 7 months old.
I looked at the children, following the drama, dancing to the beats, dark and beautiful children, happily dancing their time away! Most had big bellies and I wondered to myself, “Could they be malnourished?” My heart bled for these children, totalling approximately 100 in a very small village, scantly dressed. I thought, “It may be the culture, but the semi-permanent houses, built of clay, with mothers also just tying a shuka (a piece of cloth) could signal some level of poverty.”
What was evident is that the girls are married early and give birth within the space of at least 1 year. I couldn’t help but let my mind wander to the facts: the nearest hospital was miles away in a country where 6 women die hourly during pregnancy, delivery and immediately past delivery.
These beautiful, dark, smiley little children gathered around the car, waving and saying goodbye. “Very friendly and loving,” I thought. And as we left, only one thing was engrossed in my mind. This is one community I would love to go back to and give my little contribution, even if for just one mother & child!