Daresalam Camp in Lake Chad Region, Chad – "I am MARIAM, a nomad girl, a beneficiary of the UNFPA clinic that will save my life and that of my future baby".
Daresalam camp harbours refugees who fled the atrocities of the Boko Haram. By late morning, the air is very hot. Mariam Assafi, a young girl of about twenty years, is shyly seated on a chair at the entrance of the tent pitched by UNFPA and serving as a reproductive health service clinic. She awaits her turn to be received by the midwife for the Prenatal Consultation.
Mariam does not live in the Daresalam camp but frequently comes for prenatal consultation in the UNFPA clinic. Actually, at 25 years old, Mariam is already a mother of two boys and is over 32 weeks pregnant with her third child.
Passing without transition from a smile to a frown, the visibly moved Mariam, explains how she contracted her first pregnancy when she was only 15 years old - following a forced early marriage, which nearly resulted in complications that could have caused her death and that of her baby.
Five months after that difficult childbirth, her husband left Chad for Libya where he is a trader.
Realising the importance of safe childbirths
Upon the return of her husband after an absence of 10 years, Mariam contracted her second pregnancy and gave birth to a boy now aged 2 years. Just after the birth of the second child, she was traumatized by the death from a third delivery of an aunt.
According to her: "What some mothers often say is meaningless. As proof, even after many safebirths as in the case of my aunt, a woman may well have a lifetreathening pregnancy if she is not monitored by qualified personnel in a health care facility".
That is why, since she is pregnant anew, she became a devoted client of the UNFPA "clinic" in the Daresalam camp where she is benefiting from prenatal consultation sessions.
Overcoming socio-cultural barriers
She says she was reprimanded by her family, including her own mother, when she announced that she is being monitored in this health center. Indeed, Mariam's two previous deliveries had ''gone well'' outside of health facilities in line with the wanderings related to their nomadic life. The death of her aunt convinced her to change her behavior towards childbirth.
She is determined to proceed to save her life and that of the child she has been carrying in her womb for 32 weeks.
"My life and that of my baby are worth more than all the scolding from my family", she insisted. And she added with a strong voice to the midwife who was checking her, "I will continue to come for my prenatal consultation until I give birth for the first time in a health facility under the care of qualified personnel. I am confident about my survival and that of my unborn baby".
– UNFPA Chad