Changing the fertility narrative on the African continent
The support group Vessel is Me comes all the way from Uganda and will be appearing at Fertility Show Africa, the continent's first dedicated fertility show which takes place in Johannesburg next month.
This NGO focuses on maternal mental health and provides a platform for women and their families to talk through their infertility challenges. They support the community through monthly gatherings for women and quarterly meet ups for men and also provide a presence in selected hospitals for families who may need help.
Vessel Is Me’s Catherine Bagyenda, Denise Kekimuri and Jassy Ebwanyu will be taking part in FSA’s IVF Babble Support Zone.
The trio answered some questions:
Why do you feel that it is important for South Africa to be hosting a dedicated fertility show?
South Africa has advanced technologies that most people don’t know about. In order to create awareness, it’s a conversation that Africans need to have not just South Africans. This topic has been shunned by societies around the continent and it’s paramount to have a platform to deal with the issues of infertility (the physical, emotional and spiritual struggles) and to let people know that it can be handled and that there are many options - such as surrogacy. That’s what this conference is for, to bring the conversation to the forefront between the medical practitioners and those couples/parents dealing with fertility issues, as well society in general to be informed about the underlying issues in fertility.
What do you hope that attendees get out of it?
We hope that they embrace the conversations. The platform that FSA has set up between the medical practitioners and the (non technical personnel) support group systems will give a holistic approach and outlook to hopefully answer and solve the different problems that arise in this fertility journey. We trust the attendees know that there’s help and that they are not alone. Unfortunately most of us who have walked this journey didn’t have help or know where to get it from.
Why is the IVF babble support zone talks important and why would you encourage those attending the show to attend at least one of the sessions?
IVF in our African setting isn’t common or even talked about; it’s looked at as “playing God." Yet within the babble support zone, people will get to understand and find out how does it help, and is it important? One of the biggest challenges within the IVF journey is the emotional battle. People tend to become so disoriented because it can be such an invasion of privacy. But having the conversations helps to demystify the confusion and lack of knowledge surrounding IVF.
What is your advice for those embarking on a fertility journey?
Change the narrative. Research. Research. Research. There’s no such thing as to much information. Walk the journey with your partner: many women start alone and then bring the husband/partner later on and it becomes too much for them and they pull out. Start the conversation with him and talk about the options.
Anything else you would like to add?
When talking about IVF, all aspects of the human being should be dealt with; physical, mental and spiritual. Why? Because we are spirit beings with a soul in a body; when one is out of alignment the rest suffers.
When is FSA taking place and when will you be speaking those attending?
FSA takes place on Friday, March 6 and Saturday, March 7 at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand. We will be appearing on Saturday, March 7, at 15h30 to discuss families who continue to suffer in silence from infertility and infant loss.