Meet Aminata, 68 – she’s not your typical granny!
In fact, some would even call her a “super granny” because she has dedicated her golden years to leading change in her community by working with adolescent girls, women and men to help change the birth story.
As the president of her local Grannies club, Aminata unites grandmothers to raise awareness about early pregnancy, women’s decision making and male engagement, as well as the importance of maternal and newborn child health.
“Stillbirth as well as mother and child mortality are common [in my community],” she says. “We fight against it.”
Grandmothers making a difference
The aim of the Grannies club is to educate and inspire others to exercise their right to healthcare. For the past 3 years, Aminata and other group members have been working tirelessly to unite their communities and save lives.
“This has had a positive impact in the population because we have noticed that child mortality has decreased,” says Aminata. “Now the population know how to take care of a pregnant woman and child.”
As a respected member of the household and community, grannies can play an important role in changing the birth story because of their influence and experience.
“We raise the women’s awareness on pregnancy, family and child related care,” says Aminata. “We do outreach toward the husbands to support their wives and attend antenatal checkups.”
“We also raise grandmothers’ awareness of their duties and responsibility in the family. Grandmothers must give advice to their daughter-in-law’s. It is their duty to care about the health of their daughters.”
For Aminata, the grandmother and daughter-in-law relationship is of utmost importance for ensuring support and health in pregnancy, delivery and child care. Grandmothers can also encourage husbands to attend checkups and delivery, as well as attend Daddies clubs to learn more about how to support their wives.
“What I appreciate the most in the Grannies club is that many grandmothers were not concerned by their grandchildren’s health before the Plan International Canada project but now they are committed to care about their daughter-in-law’s and grandchildren’s health,” she says. “There is much they can learn and their behaviour toward their families can be improved.”
Working with adolescents
In addition to working with men and women, Aminata works with adolescents to increase their awareness of health services in the community.
“I talk with my adolescent granddaughters about reproductive health,” she says, adding that adolescents in the community are often not fearful to talk to her. “They are all my friends and they feel relaxed talking to me.”
She adds that if youth are seeking information about sexual and reproductive health then it’s crucial for them to know where to go and who to talk to in order to avoid misinformation and complications. Aminata says she encourages adolescents to stay in school and to protect themselves against early pregnancy because she knows it will have a huge impact on their futures.
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