FASfacts’ Pregnant Women Mentoring Project
A Community Based Initiative focussing on Protecting Unborn Babies from being Prenatally Disabled and Disadvantaged through FASfacts’ Pregnant Women M...
A Community Based Initiative focussing on Protecting Unborn Babies from being Prenatally Disabled and Disadvantaged through FASfacts’ Pregnant Women Mentoring Program as Transformation Model for the Individual as well as the Community.
FASfacts is currently implementing the Pregnant Women Mentoring Project within the Roodewal and Avian Park neighbourhoods, situated in Worcester. These neighbourhoods are characterized by the following:
- High levels of poverty.
- Unemployment and seasonal work.
- Substance abuse.
- Low levels of education and training.
- The legacy of the “tot” system caused a culture of drinking.
- Community members, including women and girls drinking alcohol because of a cultural perspective of “you need to drink to be happy”.<
- Lack of recreational activities.
- High levels of teenage pregnancies.
- Many of these community members may suffer themselves from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or at least the effects of Alcohol Exposure during their Fetal status.
- They also have to deal with the secondary effects of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.
- Many of them misuse alcohol regularly, especially during weekends (binge drinking).
- Early school dropouts.
- The environment is also a critical factor in promoting this problem, with lots of shebeens in these neighbourhoods.
- Cheap wines being sold in communities in 5 litre plastic containers.
- There is the existence of the cheap “ale” industry which makes use of sugar cane to produce liquor containing extremely high levels of alcohol - 10 -15%.
- Labour brokers also sell food and alcohol at extremely high prices to their employees, thus keeping people in the vicious cycle of poverty.
- Absent fathers.
Key issues being addressed by our organization:
- Pregnant women and girls who are trapped in this vicious cycle of substance abuse which leads to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Fetal Alcohol Effects in their unborn babies.
- The lack of knowledge amongst pregnant women and girls regarding the devastating effects of alcohol abuse during pregnancy.
- Lack of education of community members and structures on their supporting and mentoring role towards these pregnant women.
- Lack of services by professionals regarding socio-economic challenges being faced by thess communities.
- Lack of knowledge and disinterest regarding their supporting roles as fathers and absenteeism during pregnancy and thereafter.
- Unemployment of pregnant women/girls; their partners as well as mentors.
- Chronic cycle of substance abuse.
To address the above-mentioned key issues, FASfacts developed the PREGNANT WOMEN MENTORING PROGRAM as a transformation model for the individual as well as the community. The PWMP seeks to create awareness amongst community members, but more specifically pregnant women regarding the devastating effects of alcohol use during pregnancy. This project is a community-based initiative in partnership with community leaders and members.
The results of the Pregnant Women Mentoring Program benefited the different communities in many ways:
- The unborn baby has been protected in his/her mother’s womb from the devastating effects of alcohol consumption during pregnancy as soon as the mother abstains from alcohol.
- The baby has been born with a better chance to reach his/her full potential in life.
- Decrease in the secondary effects of FAS.
- Healthy families who protect their children.
- Poverty alleviation through job creation.
Quantitative end-results of the Pregnant Women Mentoring Project during May 2013 – April 2014
- A total of 30 mentors were trained
- A total of 98 women took part in the program and were educated regarding FAS.
- A total of 79 women used alcohol as primary substance, whilst 13 women used drugs as primary substance and 6 were unknown.
- 77% (61) of the 79 women stopped using alcohol during pregnancy and breastfeeding
- 72% (57) of the abovementioned participants are still maintaining sobriety.
- 5 % (4) started their drinking habit once again after pregnancy and breastfeeding. 23% (18) never stopped drinking.
- 77% (10 out of 13) of school-going girls went back to school.
Qualitative end-results of the Pregnant Women Mentoring Project
- Decrease in secondary effects of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome i.e. early school drop-outs, alcohol abuse by people with FASD, crime, etc. in communities<
- Healthy babies were born without FAS and FAE.
- Mothers fulfilling their role as primary caregivers who protect their children in a responsible manner.
- Fathers fulfilling their supporting role.
- Babies growing up in a loving stable family environment.
- School drop-outs (due to pregnancy) could continue with their education.
- Families could be united and kept together whilst some female mentors and their husbands (male mentors) work together in PWMP.
- Increased knowledge through education and training.