Post-abortion care for straight-A student

School girls receiving counselling from IPPF, Uganda
The Safe Abortion Action Fund (SAAF) which is hosted by IPPF was a fund set up in 2006 in order to support grass-roots organisations to increase access to safe abortion. One such project which received funding is called Volunteers for Development Association Uganda (VODA).

My name is Anne*, I am 14-years-old, I am a student at one of the local schools near my (rural) village.

I recently went to the health centre for post-abortion care. I was referred there by VODA and I was helped by the mid-wife, her name was Grace. 

The VODA community volunteers, they found me at my grandmother's house. They brought me to the health centre.

I was on my way to visit my grandmother. A man just caught me. After he finished with me he told me to go back home and never to tell anyone about it. I went back home to my parents, in Luwero District. There is no VODA there. I realised I was pregnant because I found out I had missed my periods. Then I told my mother.

My mother said we should try to do something about the pregnancy, but not in our home district, otherwise my father would not longer pay my school fees. I had just finished my Primary Leaving Examinations and I was looking forward to joining secondary.

Midwife providing post-abortion care, IPPF, Uganda
"We get a lot of referrals like Anne from VODA", explains Grace, the midwife of the health centre. Most of the unsafe abortions among school girls are caused by unwanted pregnancies. “They go to local herbalists and they give them some drugs. They tell me that they are green. Some of them tell me that they give them emilandira (roots) which they insert inside there to rapture the membranes.” 

So then I had to go back to my grandmother's house. She said we were going to the hospital but it wasn't like the one where Grace works, where I finally got my post-abortion treatment. She took me to a place where a woman gave me some herbs. Then we went home and the thing came out. I was bleeding. Then the VODA counsellor came to my home and suggested to my grandmother that I should be taken for treatment.

I had learnt about how girls can get pregnant but I didn't know anything about safe abortion. In Luwero, where I come from, many girls I hear they use herbs to abort but I had not tried it because I had not had any sex until that man forced me.

Questions from students about safe sex written on pieces of paper
Students of the Kasana Vocational Secondary School listen to VODA staff and volunteers talking about reproductive health. An example of a question asked by a student, "What are the ways of having safe sex?"

I am telling my friends about safe abortion and contraceptive services but I also need to be given more information about it because I was not taught about most of what Grace the midwife was telling me. I know that women can take precautions for family planning like pills but my mum told me it's only for married people.

I am very thankful to VODA, I maybe could have died if the counsellors from VODA hadn't asked to rush me to the health centre for post-abortion care.

*Not her real name

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