An African Father's Perspective on Family
“Mothers do everything in their power and beyond for the well-being of their families. Why can’t fathers?” – Majara Mopeli, a devoted father from Lesotho.
My name is Majara Mopeli. My wife is eight months pregnant and I am an involved father. The first day my wife came to the clinic she was alone. I am a mechanic and I had a deadline to meet. The only challenge when you are self-employed is that you always want to satisfy your customers, especially when you are still not established, so that they can put a good word out for you.
She came back that day and told me that she was too scared to test for HIV and that she wanted me to go to the clinic with her. I told her I would be busy and she was a little upset. I sat down and thought about what she was going through. She is carrying our first child – which is on its own very scary – and now she was to find out her status about “a life changing illness” (that’s language I learned from the Mentor Mothers after my May visits). I decided then to put my baby’s life first, just like she is.
We went to the clinic and we met with a lady called Monoang, who – I learned later – is a Mentor Mother. She explained to me everything about what my wife was going through. I was also starting to be a little scared but Monoang gave me courage to get tested with my wife. Fortunately for us, we both tested HIV negative. We were so happy!! Monoang taught us about everything we should do to ensure that we stay negative, most importantly practicing safe sex every time.
In our culture, pregnancy is thought to be a woman’s business and men stay away from it all. Usually all we do is ask, “how is my child?” But I decided to be different. I come to each one of my wife’s appointments; my work can always wait. I will be there when my wife gives birth and I plan on being with her when the baby cries all night.
This is all because of the education I got from the Mentor Mothers. They made me realise that being a father means more than just calling yourself a father. Being a father should be the same as being a mother. Mothers would go to bed on empty stomachs as long as their children are fed. They walk miles to ensure their children are healthy. Mothers do everything in their power and beyond for the well-being of their families. Why can’t fathers? I know I will never have the emotional strength my wife has, nor can I ever bear the labour pains that await her, but I can walk with her through it all.
My wife will breastfeed our child so she will have to wake up countless times at night. I don’t promise to sit with her when she feeds but I will do all I can to support her.
I wish all fathers out there could try what I have done and get involved in their women’s pregnancy. It is a wonderful journey to walk together and I will be a proud father to our child, knowing I was there all the way.
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