Family Harmony: Natural Family Planning in Central Asia

Authored by Paula Flynn in Issue #31.4 of The Sower

Seven years ago a young guest surprised me by suddenly asking, “Mrs Flynn, what is Natural Family Planning?” Our guest was a young woman called Asel Ibraeva, whose family had befriended one of our daughters when she was travelling in Central Asia a few years earlier. Asel was living in Karakol, a town in the east of Kyrgyzstan, near the splendid lake Issyk-Kul. In the summer of 2003, after six months studying English in London, and before returning home, she spent a fortnight with us in Oxfordshire.

I gave Asel a short summary of how NFP works, but realised that this brief explanation could not do justice to the subject, so I telephoned Colleen Norman, who is a very experienced Natural Family Planning teacher, and asked her if she would be willing to run a training course in Kyrgyzstan. To my surprise and delight, not only did she accept, but she immediately sent us a copy of the Russian translation of her own NFP manual, which had just been published. She followed this up by meeting us at Heathrow Airport a few days later, when Asel was about to return home. By the time Asel went through the departure gate, it had been agreed that she would try and interest as many people as possible in NFP, and see if she could gather enough support to make a course the following year feasible.

When she arrived home in Karakol, armed with the NFP manual in Russian, she boldly approached a doctor who was responsible for the training of local GPs. This doctor proved to be very responsive to learning about a method of family planning that does not involve the contraceptive pill, which is not only expensive but also increases the risk of anaemia among women whose poor diet already puts them at risk. She willingly agreed to help Asel organise a course. Asel advertised in the local press and on television, and soon there were over twenty enquirers, nearly all doctors and nurses; premises were then booked at a local lakeside resort. An important factor in their ready acceptance of this course is a Kyrgyz Government policy, established in 1997, that the health care of the new nation should be based on the promotion of healthy family life. A project to teach and encourage the use of NFP would quite clearly meet this aim.

This project is one which emphasises and promotes fundamental human values which are too often rejected in western society. In this way it plays an important part in spreading the good news of the Kingdom.

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