Nigerian Chronicles VIII- Social Networking

Posted in Africa, Documentary | Photography, Nigeria, Non Profit, womens reproductive healthcare on October 31st, 2010 by tuschman

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In a small village an hour outside Kano I was asked to photograph a large congregation of people inside a small courtyard. Apparently this was the beginning of a wedding ceremony where Traditional Birth Attendants take the opportunity to dispense birth control materials  and  engage in family planning discussions. My initial impression was that there were more birth attendants than guests, but it was only the very beginning of the  celebration.

Two experienced TBA’s from CEDPA ( Center for Development and Population Activities) were among the first guests.

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Nigerian Chronicles VII- Hospitals

Posted in Africa, Documentary | Photography, Nigeria, Non Profit, Uncategorized, womens reproductive healthcare on October 25th, 2010 by tuschman

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Abortions are illegal in Nigeria; nevertheless, abortions occur and as they happen under non-medical conditions, serious complications are all too frequent. Murtala Mohammed Specialist Hospital (MMSH) is the primary public sector hospital in Kano State and has the largest program for treating women for complications of unsafe abortions. Although the hospital serves mainly woman in Kano, patients from neighboring Nigerian states and countries as far away as Mali and Niger seek treatment here as well. I was informed that due to lack of blood storage facilities, the MMSH is one of only three comprehensive obstetric care facilities in the state able to provide the full range of life saving obstetric services. Trained nurses and midwives treat women suffering from incomplete abortion with manual vacuum aspiration (MVA) in a dedicated procedure room. Care is available 24 hours a day.  Women normally wait only 30 minutes to be treated, and most go home within an hour after treatment, after receiving counseling and choosing a contraceptive method.

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Nigerian Chronicles VI: Bixby Girls Education

Posted in Africa, Documentary | Photography, education, Nigeria, Non Profit, Recent Projects on October 17th, 2010 by tuschman

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An hour outside of Kaduna, we arrived in a small village to document the Bixby Girls’ Education project. It was raining, and as we waited outside a small mud structure, a few women came to sweep out the water that had accumulated on the floor and then proceeded to lay down a dry carpet. About 15 girls appeared, and they all sat down in a big circle in the room and took turns reading from a single, soft covered book.

The girls are taught once a week in the afternoon from 3 PM to 5 PM. Every group of fifteen girls has one mentor. The books consist of some folklore stories that teach them cultural values; other books teach the girls the basics of child-raising and simple ways of combating deadly diseases through vaccines, including practical details of when to get them and where they are available. Other books discuss health-related issues: oral rehydration therapy, HIV/AIDS, and gender equality.

During the Children’s Day Celebration, the girls are normally taken out for excursions to various places with Program Officers and their mentors. The girls started this program completely illiterate, but now they can read and write without much difficulty.

Some girls were removed from the program by their parents, who had arranged marriages for their daughters.  Nevertheless, some of these girls later came back to continue with their studies.

I was very moved by the intensity of these girls as a single, very worn book was passed around so each girl could take a turn reading a single passage. Their attention was complete and unwavering as they were soaking up each and every word that was read aloud.

When everyone had had a turn reading, the mentor brought out a laptop computer and all the girls surrounded her, jostling with each other to be able to get a view of the computer screen. There was an image on the screen of a building in Europe (or the U.S.), and their hunger to get a glimpse of the outside world was palpable.

I have to admit from my Western eyes, I felt very sad that these girls were unlikely to ever have a chance to achieve their potential, to become doctors, nurses, lawyers, scientists, artists; their choice was limited to getting married and to having frequent pregnancies. I think it is wonderful that they learned how to read and write, but I could sense from photographing them that there was so much more they could achieve.

Nigeria has the wealth to educate these young girls and it is very unfortunate that the government can’t provide a full education that would give them the choice and the opportunity to attend a university. These girls’ situation is not unique; unfortunately, it is all too common. Their tragic loss of potential belongs not only to these young students who have such a desire to learn, but also to the nation of Nigeria and to the wider world.

The Emir of the village. It is customary to always greet an Emir when entering a village and get his permission to visit and photograph.

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Nigerian Chronicles V: SWODEN in Kano

Posted in Africa, Documentary | Photography, Nigeria, Non Profit, Recent Projects, womens reproductive healthcare on October 11th, 2010 by tuschman

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SWODEN is a foundation supported by the Packard Foundation that operates in Kano, the second most populous Nigerian city after Lagos, which has an estimated population of 2.1 million inhabitants (from the 2006 Nigerian census).  SWODEN is a multi-faceted NGO, whose work encompasses women’s reproductive health care, girl’s education, vocational-skills training, and microfinance – all with the express purpose of empowering women.

The SWODEN Community School project is designed to break the cycle of hopelessness that children experience from their impoverished environment. The school has operated since 2001 and is designed to give the students a positive, hopeful dimension to their lives.  So far, the school has graduated 127 pupils, with many of them going on to secondary school.  A total of 87 students are currently attending classes.   The school offers scholarships, and provides the basic educational materials needed to attend, including uniforms, bags, sandals, books and writing materials.  Of course, guidance and counseling are always available to each and every student.

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Nigerian Chronicles IV- PPFA in Maiduguri

Posted in Africa, Documentary | Photography, Nigeria, Non Profit, Recent Projects, womens reproductive healthcare on October 3rd, 2010 by tuschman

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In Maiduguri, PPFA ( again supported by Packard Foundation grants) had set up a Reproductive Health Information and Services Center run by youth peer educators. PPFA considers peer to peer interaction very critical for successful youth and adolescent reproductive health programming. The philosophy behind these programs, according to Thank-God Okosun, the PPFA Program Officer here , “like poles attract and unlike poles repel”.  PPFA has invested heavily in training young peer counselors to implement their educational activities, especially  in contraception and safe sexual practices. They are also trained to refer clients for post abortion care and unintended pregnancies for possible counseling and services. Emergency Contraceptives have also been introduced and considering the conservative religious climate, this is seen as a major point of progress in family planning programming.

PPFA’s Youth Friendly Center is very much like a boys and girls club for teenagers. There is a pool table and other recreational activities and every opportunity is used engage teenagers and educate them on sexual reproductive health issues.

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