Bua’s story

emma.clarkgratton@mariestopesinternational.org.au Papua New Guinea, Stories

Bua lives in Hila Village in Papua New Guinea. He is a ward councillor and leader in his community. Bua has two wives and three children with each wife. The oldest child is 30 years and the youngest is 14.

He grows coffee, has gardens for food and has a small income as a councillor.

After Bua’s last child was born, he attended a MSI awareness event and chose a vasectomy.

Bua lists three reasons why he wanted to stop having children:

1. Land. His brothers live elsewhere but they each have sons, meaning the family land must be shared among many individuals – there’s not a lot to go around. He has to be fair to his nephews.

2. Expense, especially school fees. Bua was worried he wouldn’t be able to provide for all of his children if he had more.

3. Women’s empowerment. “The woman is the pillar of the family. Too many children become too large a burden and mean women cannot perform all their duties providing for the family,” he said.

“I felt guilty about getting a vasectomy. There are plenty of negative ideas about family planning. People say it will affect your health, your body might swell up, you might die. Some people believe that implants are evil – connected with the devil. I was told I would bring the devil into the community [The church does not share these ideas].”

At first Bua was afraid of the procedure. “But there was no pain, nothing – just a small pinch and there were no side effects.”

“Before the operation I talked to my family, to my wives and kids. They agreed that it was a good thing to do.”

“I’d read pamphlets so I had information about the vasectomy.”

Bua is happy he had the vasectomy. “Ever since I had the vasectomy I’ve felt that I’m in control. I can send my children to get a good education and I can take care of their health.”

Bua kept his vasectomy a secret from the community until he felt comfortable sharing his story. He spoke out about the benefits of family planning and vasectomies.

“I’m very proud. I’m confident to speak out. I’m passionate about what Marie Stopes brings to the community. I’ll not only tell people here but I’ll tell people in neighbouring communities. A lot of people are not aware of family planning. I’ll use my experience to bring other people in for family planning.”

“Many people are suffering because they have too many children. There are many superstitious beliefs but I can help spread the truth. Because of my position as a councillor, people will listen to me.”