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Billings Ovulation Method: Conference Report

MaterCare Internationals 2nd NFP Nairobi Conference in association with WOOMB Australia

With the Cooperation of the Family Life National Office of   the Kenyan Conference of Catholic Bishops

BILLINGS OVULATION METHOD TEACHER TRAINING COURSE

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 3rd to Friday, NOVEMBER 7th, 2014

DIMESSE SISTERS RETREAT CENTRE, KAREN NAIROBI, KENYA


62 participants recently attended a one day Conference followed by a 4 day intensive Billings Ovulation Method® Teacher Training Program in Nairobi offered by WOOMB International Ltd and sponsored by MaterCare International.  Due to the organising efforts of Theresa Abuya from the Kenyan Conference of Catholic Bishops – National Family Life Office, 21 out of the 26 Dioceses sent representatives.  It was a truly international event with participants also from Tanzania (2); Zimbabwe (2); The Democratic Republic of the Congo; Uganda; Canada and Australia.

           The Bishop of Meru, Rt Rev Salesius Mugambi, Chairman of the National Family Life Office gave the opening address “The Beauty and Truth of Human Sexuality” in which he encouraged the participants to embrace what they would learn and to share this with the couples in their regions.  An excellent paper on the value of Natural Family Planning (NFP) entitled, “God Does Not Ask the Impossible” was presented by Fr Aidan Msafiri, a dynamic speaker from Tanzania.  Fr Msafiri is head of Philosophy and Ethics at the St Augustine University in Tanzania and is also an accredited Billings Ovulation Method® teacher.   Marie Marshell from WOOMB International then presented the History of the Billings Ovulation Method®   and Marian Corkill, also from WOOMB, gave an overview of the method. The last two papers for the day were from two teachers from Kenya and Tanzania.  Maximilia Muninzwa, a mother of 12 and long time NFP teacher, gave a paper on the spread of the BOM in Kenya following the visit of the Drs Billings in the 1970s.   This session was followed by Elmina Pascal Kalunga from Tanzania who gave a report on the achievements of the Billings Ovulation Method® in Tanzania. This presentation gave excellent statistics and an overview of their work. The session finished with a discussion on how to reach those in poor and remote regions, a focus for moving forward and spreading the Billings Ovulation Method® throughout all of Africa. 

            The day was completed with Mass with the five priests registered for the Teacher Training – 4 from Kenya and Fr. Msafiri from Tanzania, and the principal celebrant being a priest from Nairobi, involved in Family Life.  Theresa Abuya had organised for a different priest to come for each of the Masses over the week and all gave inspiring sermons on the value of NFP and the importance of families.

This Conference proved to be a good basis for the week ahead when the emphasis would be on updating all teachers in the authentic Billings Ovulation Method®.

Tuesday, 4th November – Friday - 7th November, 2014

            This was the first of the four days of the Basic Teacher Training Program (TTP).  It was a mixed group – some had been teaching the BOM/NFP for years and others were brand new to the field. All were enthusiastic and it was clear from the beginning that all participants were taking this program seriously and were keen to learn all they could to take the Method back to their people.

            The students covered Phases of the Cycle: Charting the Ovulatory Cycle, Scientific Understanding of Ovulatory Cycles and the Application of the Rules of Billings Ovulation Method, Requirements of Fertility: Natural Signs of Ovulation, Charting from Menarche to Menopause, Thinking in Patterns – the Key to Understanding the Pre-ovulatory Phase, Different Types of Bleeding – normal response to oestrogens, When Ovulation is delayed – long cycles, Stress Cycles, Lactation, Pre-menopause, Achieving Pregnancy, Teaching Methods, Post Contraception, Pregnancy Investigation, and Reproductive Health.

            By Thursday, most of the content of the course had been covered and the students were ready for the assessment which was conducted on Thursday afternoon.  The diligence of the students was obvious as every evening small groups could be seen working together, reading and studying the official literature and discussing how they were going to share this knowledge in the villages.

            

By the end of the course people were saying “we needed this”, as updating to their professional development was last done in 1980s.  A great supporter of the Billings Ovulation Method® in Kenya, Dr Andrew Kuira was present throughout the week and encouraged the participants to adopt the changes necessary in their teaching to ensure the authentic method would be offered.

            Fr. Msafiri took up the importance of using authentic materials in his homily on Tuesday, explaining the importance of working together – one person alone can run faster, but to go far you need a group.  Fr. Msafiri is very impressive, dynamic and strong in his promotion of the authentic Billings Ovulation Method®. His presence was the catalyst for a united vision of BOM for Kenya and also for Africa.

            Meetings had taken place between key people in the different regions of Kenya regarding their affiliation as part of WOOMB International and discussions were also held with representatives of all the countries so that a strategic plan can be set in place and they can move forward, not only for Kenyan affiliation but also for WOOMB Africa.  

           

The last day was devoted to a quick review, the stories and an overview of the assessment answers. Most had done well, some were excellent, including the participating priests. This was a reflection of how seriously everyone had taken this course. 

After lunch, Dr. Robert Walley presented a very moving presentation on MaterCare International (MCI) and what is being achieved in Isiolo with the new hospital. It is so difficult for all of us who are endeavouring to change lives, to get the support that is needed.  There were 5 people from Isiolo present, two nuns, Srs Emily and Gladys, were from the MCI hospital and they will now be able to use the specially designated NFP room in the hospital to offer a clinic. Also present was Chakuliza, a midwife par excellence, who runs the MaterCare outreach maternity clinic in Merti. There were two others, a man Erastus who is the Family Life Coordinator for Isiolo – he and his wife are teachers as well as an additional woman. Isiolo now has a team of very good and highly qualified BOM/NFP teachers.

            Each Mass the singing was wonderful – the people were so involved and they celebrated so joyously. The final Mass of the TTP was celebrated by the Bishop of the Kenyan Military Ordinate with joyful singing and dancing. After the mass there was the certificate presentation, each blessed by the Bishop.