A mother's heart break after losing teen daughter to unsafe abortion

Margaret, who lost her daughter to an unsafe abortion, photographed at her home in Kasawo, Uganda.
The Safe Abortion Action Fund (SAAF) which is hosted by IPPF was set up in 2006 in order to support grass-roots organisations to increase access to safe abortion. One such organisation which received support under the last round of funding is called Volunteers for Development Association Uganda (VODA).

Margaret's daughter, Gladys, was raped by a relative as a teenager and became pregnant. She did not tell her mother what had happened and not wanting to have a child at such a young age conceived through incest, Gladys tried to terminate the pregnancy herself using local herbs but got an infection and died.

"My name is Margaret and I am a widow."

"I lost my daughter in 2011. She was called Gladys and she was 16. I didn’t know that she was pregnant. She tried to use local herbs to abort. I only found out about it three days later when she was bleeding very heavily. I tried to take her to the hospital but unfortunately she died on the way."

A mother in Uganda helps the IPPF-funded project VODA on safe abortion

Despite being the cause of many deaths in the region, the stigma surrounding abortion means that most people do not mention the cause of death publically. However at Gladys' funeral one of her school friends spoke out and said that she had died due to unsafe abortion. This prompted VODA to start working on the issue and when the project started they included Margaret in their training on how to prevent unsafe abortion.

"The training made me stronger to talk about it. Now, I continue to tell my remaining two girls about the dangers of unsafe abortion, sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies. VODA has really helped us. I think my girl wouldn’t have died if VODA was active then like it is now."

A counselor from the IPPF-funded VODA project speaks to school girls about the dangers of unsafe abortion

"I have used VODA's information to carry on with my parental work. That information has been helpful because we are noticing change. I keep on reminding them, 'didn’t you see what happened to your friend here?'. So they have really changed especially with the ongoing help of the people from VODA."

"Unsafe abortion was rampant in the past. We had tried to speak to the students, as parents, but it seemed that our information was not enough. But now we have another helping hand from VODA, especially with those seminars targeting the girls."



Read more stories about the amazing success of SAAF in Uganda