A Game that Truly is a Game-Changer for Men and Families in South Sudan
Published on June 9, 2022
When Jackson Gigeneyo Adriano, a 27-year-old father of six from Nakili Village, Asanza Boma of Yambio County in South Sudan heard there was a game that could improve his family’s life, he signed up. He not only cares for his own children – who range in age from nine months to eight years – but also his late father’s family. He was highly motivated to explore the male engagement game known as “Together We Decide” developed by MOMENTUM Integrated Health Resilience in collaboration with Breakthrough ACTION. “Together We Decide” creates a safe space for men and couples to discuss child spacing with peers in a way that resonates with them. The game lets players “experience” the consequences of choices about child spacing and contraceptive use, builds familiarity with contraceptive methods, and encourages conversations with their partners and health workers.
“I have painfully felt the financial burden of raising a big family at my age with six children and an extended family,” says Jackson. “This prompted me to learn new skills for managing my family.”
Like many men in South Sudan, Jackson’s large family helped him gain prestige and social acceptance while conforming to social norms and ensuring a labor force to cultivate his farmland. South Sudan’s modern contraceptive prevalence rate stands at just 3.9 percent, with an unmet need for modern family planning at 21 percent.1
“Together We Decide,” a pilot project, required couples to sit together, discuss their family issues, and make decisions together — the first time Jackson and his wife, Janet Simon Nunu, had ever done that. Successfully completing activities earned them “harmony points.” Earning, and losing, harmony points was an important lesson for Jackson: “I used to resort to violence in my family to escape problems and responsibilities,” he admits. “The game taught me to communicate empathetically with my wife and make decisions together and prevent gender-based violence in my family. I now understand my wife’s fertility cycle and when she can get pregnant, the benefits of family planning, and how to talk to her about it.” The game also taught him about the need to educate all his children, including his daughters, to enable them to break the cycle of poverty.
“The game taught me to communicate empathetically with my wife and make decisions together and prevent gender-based violence in my family.” -Jackson Gigeneyo Adriano, 27-year-old father of six
Skeptical initially about family planning, Jackson’s wife has now received a contraceptive implant. They are facing the future with hope. Jackson says, “We are investing more in livestock, a produce business, farmland, and bricks for income generation.” Jackson’s hopes go beyond his own family: He wants others across South Sudan to see how the fathers in Yambio are engaged with a game that has brought love and harmony to couples and changes to their lives.
For more information on how Breakthrough ACTION engages males in family planning and other related activities, click here.
Hero image: Jackson Gigeneyo Adriano, 27, poses with his wife, Janet Simon Nunu, 24, in Nakili village, Azanaza Boma, Yambio County, South Sudan. Jackson participated in a “Together We Decide” activity with his male peers to explore family planning options. Photo Credit: Male Herbert, Social Behavior Change/Gender Advisor for MOMENTUM Integrated Health Resilience.
- Track20. “South Sudan.” 2021. http://www.track20.org/pages/participating_countries/countries.php