Earlier this year, Tostan participants in the village of Fegoun in the region of Koulikoro, Mali performed a skit spotlighting the human right to reproductive health. The play celebrated the delivery of new medical supplies to community health center.
In the play, a pregnant woman arrives in severe labor pain at the house of her father-in-law. Against the advice of a family friend, the father-in-law insists the distressed woman give birth at his house as all the women in the family have done before. The family friend is sent away, but returns with news from the doctor at the health center who says that having not attended prenatal appointments, the woman could die if she gives birth at home. This convinces the father-in-law, and the entire family helps the pregnant woman onto a motorcycle that takes her to the health center. At the end of the performance, the crowd cheered and applauded.
Created by Fegoun community members participating in Tostan’s Community Empowerment Program (CEP), the skit raised awareness about the dangers of giving birth without proper medical supervision and the importance of prenatal appointments. Most importantly, it conveyed this information in a context that was both familiar and entertaining to Fegoun residents. Filled with jokes and cultural exaggerations, the play spurred the crowd into roars of laughter and contagious smiles. At the same time, it engaged important power-brokers, such as the father-in-law, in the dialogue surrounding prenatal care and home-births. After the performance, other Tostan participants reinforced the human right to reproductive health through presentations and songs.
The play and the subsequent presentations were part of a ceremony organized by Fegoun community members to celebrate the delivery of medical supplies to the community health center. This was the second of two deliveries that have been made to the health center.
The first delivery took place after the Malian National Director of Health, Dr. Amadoun Ba first traveled to the village in 2011. Dr. Ba originally visited Fegoun to observe the success of Tostan’s nonformal education program. As part of the visit, the participants of the CEP and the Community Management Committee (CMC) organized a presentation highlighting best community health practices and detailing the health challenges facing the Fegoun community, particularly the lack of medical instruments and supplies at the health center.
Dr. Ba’s first visit was a big achievement for the community according to Djelika Coulibaly, a Tostan participant. “The CEP of Tostan has created an understanding in our community,” she stated, “…before the program, there was no collaboration between us, we [the women of Fegoun] were wary of each other.” The ability to come together to identify, present, and address local challenges is a fundamental skill gained through the Tostan program. At the closing of his initial visit, Dr. Ba made a spontaneous promise to the village to partner with the CMC and Tostan participants to deliver essential medical instruments and supplies to the health center.
During a second visit, a representative of Dr. Ba delivered the second round of supplies as promised. One of the most important new instruments given was a new delivery table to replace the current table that was no longer functional. Other vital items delivered included an exam table, a metal bed for sick patients, an instrument cart, a metal trash can to dispose of hazardous materials, and instruments to perform women’s health exams. The ceremony ended with a tour of the health center and the new supplies. The health center midwife, Rokiatou Sacko, beamed with pride as she led the delegation of local officials into each room.
This is not the first time since starting the CEP that the CMC of Fegoun has partnered directly with the national government on a development project. Last year the CMC worked with the government to obtain birth certificates for over forty children attending school in Fegoun. “Thanks to Tostan’s program the members of our community are interested in the advantages of health, particularly women’s and children’s health,” said Djelika Coulibaly who was one of the main speakers during the ceremony. The CMC of Fegoun now mobilizes many events for community health and continues to be a driving force for development in the village and the wider region of Koulikoro.
To view the full photo album of the community skit and medical supply delivery, click here.