By Sheila Gabeya
After a hectic day in Kajiado, Maasai land, the team is eager to hit the road as we look forward to a smoother day ahead in Narok and Sondu. The plan is to meet with Fred Paskal and George Mbogah.
Jonathan, who was feeling unwell the day before, is back to his usual self and in high spirits as he guides the team forward. Today, with precise directions, they arrive in Narok on time, and we find Fred at a nice hotel with a calm ambiance.
Fred works for Asante Africa Foundation, which provides services in mainly rural areas. The foundation helps provide transport for children to get to school, assists to enrich the curriculum and offers them specific skills to prepare for life after graduating. Fred’s ultimate objective is to make sure girls stay in school by providing the support they need to thrive with their academics as they transition to the next phase of life.
Fred believes that vasectomy is a hard sell, but with time will be accepted. He insists that like any other idea, there must be clear information provided. He says, “Everything begins with awareness” and with “more options than those they are comfortable with people will make better decisions. For any idea to work, you must demonstrate its benefits.” His programs focused on teaching children about financial savings, and he feels strongly that these new ideas must be taught to the youth so they can make informed decisions beginning very early on in life.
Another reason Fred sees hope for change is that years back people had more children than they could handle because they knew up to half would not survive. Now, with improved health care and easy access to medication, a couple can feel safe even with just two kids. Again he says, “the more knowledge people have, the more options they have, the smarter choices they make.”
We ask if things are changing here in Narok, a modern city with all of the amenities that is far from the reality that we witnessed yesterday in Michael Sayo’s Maasai village. Fred says, “It might look modern, but this is still a very traditional place and even here, it will take time for men to understand that they too should be responsible for family planning.”
Just as Asante foundation has worked to cultivate a culture that supports girls acceptance in school, Fred feels the same can be done to teach the youth of Narok about the benefits of family planning and how vasectomy can fit in the mix.
Even though everyone wants to stay longer there’s a lot of ground to cover and WVD must hit the road to catch up with George Mbogha in Sondu before nightfall. The road beckons and while Narok remains firmly in our mind, WVD continues forward in its mission to share more stories about men and family planning.
Donate to build a sustainable vasectomy outreach program in Kenya! We’re looking for $35,000. Will you help? https://igg.me/at/rrp0V1ZxLSw
About the Author: Sheila Gabeya is a 25-year-old Ugandan writer and photographer living in Nairobi, Kenya. She will be documenting World Vasectomy Day triumphs and challenges through her pictures and storytelling.
Photo: Sheila Gabeya