For 20 years I made documentaries across the globe about men wreaking havoc on themselves, their communities, and their countries. Many of the subjects in my films paid the price for having participated in the mayhem and misery by serving time in prisons and/or losing their lives to violent death. Despite the context of my work, it was the positivity of men, even in the worst of circumstances that drew my attention.
In 2012, I decided that instead of just telling stories, I would put my storytelling attention towards building a movement. The objective was straightforward; harness the best in men by aggregating individual acts of kindness into a collective movement for social good. I spent almost a decade seeking a story that had sufficient force and relevance to attract not hundreds, not thousands but eventually millions of people.
It was while making a film about Dr. Doug Stein, one of the world’s most passionate vasectomy providers that I found the path that now consumes my life. The dream of making World Vasectomy Day a reality is to bring together millions of men all over the planet who make the courageous choice to rise for themselves, their partners, their children, and our future while shouldering responsibility for family planning. With over 1000 participating doctors in 40+ countries, we are already the largest male-focused family planning event in history.
Today, I am laying in bed in a tiny little village in Western Kenya where I just had a lovely dinner with George Mbogah, his wife, Ruth, and their daughter Nadi. There are only 12 days to go before World Vasectomy Day number 4, headquartered in Nairobi, and George is the honoree for this year’s WVD Vasectomy Acceptor award, given to the man who best exemplifies the principles of our movement; kindness, caring, and courage.
I met George in May 2012, in Busia, Kenya. He had traveled 20 hours and 1000 kilometers to get his vasectomy because he knew that to raise his daughter to adulthood, he could not afford more children nor risk the well-being of his wife. He shared that he was the eldest son of the 4th wife in a polygamous family of 25 siblings and had suffered poverty and rejection his entire childhood. The vasectomy was his way of assuring nothing close to that would ever befall his child.
So in just under two weeks we celebrate World Vasectomy Day, and the excitement and commitment are growing. Indeed, in the time it took for me to write this essay, I received a phone call from Dr. Jose Antonio Castro Garduño who shared the exciting news that with the support of Mexico’s Ministry of Health the 250+ public health doctors who do vasectomies had committed to perform 3000 procedures as part of this year’s celebration.
Now we ask the good men of the Good Men Project to join and yes, to lead our movement. We know that our communities overlap and our commitment to making a better world is shared. Indeed, it is the the same values of manhood at our most noble that define both GMP and WVD, and the reasons we were inspired to join forces once again.
We can’t do it alone. Join us. Visit our web page, like our Facebook page, connect with us on Twitter, and if you can, please consider supporting our crowdfunding campaign. Share your vasectomy stories, get a vasectomy if the time is right and help us spread the movement as we commit to building sustainable vasectomy programs the world over.
Donate to build a sustainable vasectomy outreach program in Kenya! We’re looking for $35,000. Will you help?
Photo: Sheila Gabeya