EDUCATIONAL TOOLS FOR FAMILY PLANNING AND SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH

Workshop Manual and ‘5 BIG RAIN TOOLS’

Dr. Maria Hengst­ber­ger has deve­lo­ped five easi­ly com­pre­hen­si­ble edu­ca­tio­nal tools, that make infor­ma­ti­on easy to under­stand and share with others, visi­ble, and liter­al­ly tan­gi­ble. Our work­shop manu­al, crea­ted in 2013 and revi­sed in 2020, ser­ves as a didac­tic tool.
BABY NECKLACE

The Baby Neck­lace enab­les you to beco­me more awa­re of your cycle and easi­ly iden­ti­fy the most and least fer­ti­le days during your cycle. Every woman has the right to learn more about the way her body works.

Dr. Maria Hengst­ber­ger deve­lo­ped the baby neck­lace in 1989 while in Ethio­pia, with input and sug­ges­ti­ons from local Ethio­pian women. In 1995 the neck­lace was shared with the Insti­tu­te of Repro­duc­ti­ve Health at George­town Uni­ver­si­ty by the Bra­zi­li­an cha­ri­ty Pas­to­ral of the Child, who deve­lo­ped the ‘Stan­dard Days Method’ on the basis of the neck­lace. The alte­red neck­lace was tra­de-mar­ked, and patent pro­tec­ted, and has been sold as ‘Cycle­beads’ inter­na­tio­nal­ly sin­ce 2002.

The Akti­on Regen Baby Neck­lace dif­fers from ‘Cycle­beads’ in the fol­lowing ways: the 30 beads are shaped as rain­drops and are bright and color­ful. Red sym­bo­li­zes mens­trua­ti­on, yel­low depicts infer­ti­le days (yel­low repres­ents sun, desert, drought) and blue depicts fer­ti­le days (blue repres­ents water, fer­ti­li­ty). The blue beads and baby-shaped, thus clear­ly indi­ca­ting fer­ti­li­ty. Addi­tio­nal­ly, the neck­lace has a rub­ber band that can be moved dai­ly from the nar­row to the wide side of the rain­drop-shaped beads. Sin­ce the rub­ber band can only be moved in one direc­tion, women are less likely to acci­dent­al­ly rever­se the direc­tion of the neck­lace and mix up the days of their cycle.

The length of a woman’s cycle does not have an impact on the effec­ti­ve­ness of the baby neck­lace, as a woman is not fer­ti­le during the last days of her cycle. It is only important to start using the neck­lace on the first day of mens­trua­ti­on, using the first red pearl.

Our Baby Neck­lace can be purcha­sed for 15 € (posta­ge fees app­ly) from Akti­on Regen. Every order gets a Girl´s Dia­ry for free! You can place an order by con­ta­c­ting us at office@aktionregen.at.

Mother´s Health CLOCK

To have a safe pregnan­cy and let the fema­le body ful­ly heal after birth, it is medi­cal­ly advi­sed that a woman take time to reco­ver bet­ween pregnan­ci­es.

To ensu­re the health and well­being of the mother and child, 18 mon­ths should lie bet­ween the birth of one child and the con­cep­ti­on of ano­t­her. The ent­i­re fema­le body needs to reco­ver from pregnan­cy; the ute­rus in par­ti­cu­lar needs to heal, and this takes time. The birth spa­cing clock shows the pha­ses of ide­al birth spa­cing in an easy-to-fol­low way: pregnan­cy, child­birth, bre­ast­fee­ding – during which pregnan­cy is not pos­si­ble, and a pha­se without pro­tec­tion for pregnan­cy.

The woman can use the birth spa­cing clock as a calen­dar, by pul­ling the rub­ber band over the mon­th­ly notch. If the rub­ber band falls wit­hin the blue sec­tion (blue like the fer­ti­le days on our baby neck­lace) con­cep­ti­on is pos­si­ble but should be avoided to pro­tect the health of mother and child.

This tool can be acqui­red and used by institutions/organisations/NGOs. If inte­res­ted, plea­se con­ta­ct us and ask for the cur­rent pri­ce: office@aktionregen.at.

As we are cur­r­ent­ly refi­ning this tool, it is for the time being not avail­ab­le!

Stop hand

A bana­na may be enough for two child­ren, but not for 10. Par­ents can afford schoo­ling for three child­ren, but not for 8. A small home pro­vi­des enough space for 5 peop­le, but not for 12” – Maria Hengst­ber­ger, on WHY fami­ly plan­ning makes sen­se.

The Stop Glove dis­plays the basic needs of each indi­vi­du­al: love, health, peace, food and water, and edu­ca­ti­on. When pregnan­ci­es are plan­ned (and women thus auto­ma­ti­cal­ly have fewer child­ren), the basic needs of all child­ren can be met. The Stop Glove is thus a meta­phor for the impact a lack of fami­ly plan­ning can have on an indi­vi­du­al, on a com­mu­ni­ty, and an ent­i­re coun­try. It also shows the oppor­tu­nities con­scious fami­ly plan­ning can bring about. We can­not chan­ge the world we live in, but we can chan­ge our atti­tu­des and actions towards issu­es we may face, and by doing so chan­ge the situa­ti­on. The hand sym­bo­li­zes our call to “grab the future” and wish for each indi­vi­du­al to be able to take their desti­ny into their own hands.

This tool can be acqui­red and used by institutions/organisations/NGOs. If inte­res­ted, plea­se con­ta­ct us and ask for the cur­rent pri­ce: office@aktionregen.at.

Little Mom

This ute­rus model made from pink soft fab­ric is used to edu­ca­te peop­le on the fema­le repro­duc­ti­ve organs and their func­tions.

The colour, soft mate­ri­al, and baby in the ute­rus, take away fears regar­ding the unknown, rai­se awa­reness and con­vey know­ledge in a liter­al­ly tan­gi­ble man­ner. The litt­le mom model shows vagi­na, ute­rus, fallo­pian tubes and ova­ries. Pregnan­cy pre­ven­ti­on methods such as using a con­dom, per­forming ste­ri­liz­a­ti­on, pla­cing a dia­phragm, or inser­ting an IUD are easy to exp­lain. Know­ledge of the fema­le body takes away fears.

This tool can be acqui­red and used by institutions/organisations/NGOs. If inte­res­ted, plea­se con­ta­ct us and ask for the cur­rent pri­ce: office@aktionregen.at.

CLITORIS MODEL

Around 200 mil­li­on women world­wi­de have under­go­ne fema­le geni­tal muti­la­ti­on. An addi­tio­nal 3 mil­li­on girls each year suf­fer from this sen­seless prac­ti­ce, and have their geni­tals cut with kni­ves, bro­ken glass, or razor bla­des.

Whe­re­as world­wi­de cases of infi­bu­la­ti­on (the remo­val of the exter­nal fema­le geni­ta­lia and stit­ching of the vul­va) is decli­ning, the remo­val of the cli­to­ris, so-cal­led cli­to­ri­dec­to­my, is incre­a­sing. In Mus­lim coun­tries, this is cal­led Sun­na and is often per­cei­ved as a mild form of cir­cumcisi­on. Howe­ver, cli­to­ri­dec­to­my is neit­her “mild” nor “huma­ne”, the pain expe­ri­en­ced is uni­ma­gin­ab­le. The cli­to­ris is not, as many belie­ve, sim­ply a pie­ce of skin that can be remo­ved, but an organ. The cli­to­ris is a repro­duc­ti­ve organ, like the penis, with nume­rous ner­ves and smal­ler as well as lar­ger blood ves­sels. The func­tion of this repro­duc­ti­ve organ is to sti­mu­la­te the tis­sue of the labia and lead more blood to flow to the labia. This is why remo­ving the cli­to­ris can result in life-threa­tening blee­ding, and exp­lains the extre­me pain felt during the pro­ce­du­re, as all the ner­ve ending come tog­e­ther in the cli­to­ris. It is the­re­fo­re of para­mount impor­t­ance to show and make under­stand­a­ble, through the use of our cli­to­ris model, that the cli­to­ris is an organ.

The model was pro­du­ced in coö­pe­ra­ti­on with Hand Werk Wien!

This tool can be acqui­red and used by institutions/organisations/NGOs. If inte­res­ted, plea­se con­ta­ct us and ask for the cur­rent pri­ce: office@aktionregen.at.

Other models of fema­le geni­tal muti­la­ti­on illus­tra­te the com­pli­ca­ti­ons of child­birth and the risk of birth fis­tu­las. Birth fis­tu­las main­ly affect girls / young women who­se pel­vis is not yet ful­ly grown or muti­la­ted women. Both have enor­mous birth pro­blems, sin­ce the child can hard­ly be born natu­ral­ly and is often stuck for several days! This not only threa­tens the life of the child mas­si­ve­ly, it means end­less pain for the mother and it has long-term con­se­quen­ces: The blood sup­ply is inter­rup­ted by the per­ma­nent pres­su­re and the tis­sue bet­ween the vagi­na and the blad­der or bet­ween the vagi­na and the intes­ti­ne slow­ly dies. As a result, the affec­ted woman is no lon­ger able to hold uri­ne or stool, and the­re is an uncon­trol­led flow. Becau­se the­se women often smell of uri­ne / stool, they are threa­tened with ost­ra­cism and exclu­si­on from socie­ty.

OTHER TOOLS FOR HEALTH KNOWLEDGE AND CYCLE AWARENESS

girl´s diary

Sexu­al edu­ca­ti­on for young peop­le should begin with know­ledge about the func­tions of the repro­duc­ti­ve organs and an awa­reness of their own bodies.

Girls who have learnt about the mens­tru­al cycle and are awa­re of chan­ges their body goes through during dif­fe­rent parts of their cycle are able to adapt the deman­ds of dif­fe­rent life situa­tions to their hor­mo­nal cycle. The Girl’s Dia­ry offers young women the pos­si­bi­li­ty to obser­ve and under­stand their own cycle. With the help of an out­line of a hor­mo­nal cycle, girls can get into the habit of paying atten­ti­on to their own bodies. We’re hap­py to share the Girl’s Dia­ry for down­load here!

Institutions/organisations/NGOs can order the print ver­si­on of the Girl’s Dia­ry from Akti­on Regen. If inte­res­ted, plea­se con­ta­ct us, ask for the cur­rent pri­ce and send us an email to office@aktionregen.at.

GIRL’S RULER

We adap­ted the con­cept of our baby neck­lace into a ruler. Using this ruler every day at school enab­les young girls to repeated­ly be expo­sed to the sub­ject of cycle awa­reness, and for this infor­ma­ti­on to be stored in the sub­con­scious mind.

New skills and know­ledge are more easi­ly acqui­red in youth (think about lear­ning lan­guages, lear­ning to ride a bike, lear­ning to swim); the­re­fo­re, it is also ide­al for cycle awa­reness to be learnt in the ear­lier peri­od of life. Our Girl’s Ruler, when used every day, enab­les child­ren to deve­lop an awa­reness of the fema­le cycle that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

This tool can be acqui­red and used by institutions/organisations/NGOs. If inte­res­ted, plea­se con­ta­ct us and ask for the cur­rent pri­ce: office@aktionregen.at.

PROTECTION HOUSE

In order to be and stay health, the soul, mind and body must be in balan­ce and har­mo­ny. To help others beco­me awa­re of this con­nec­tion, Dr. Maria Hengst­ber­ger deve­lo­ped the con­cept of the Pro­tec­tion House.

The image of the house and gar­den hel­ps other to be awa­re of stra­te­gies to incre­a­se health and take care of them­sel­ves. The roof offers pro­tec­tion and sym­bo­li­zes the impor­t­ance of the self. The four walls stand for nou­ris­hing and main­tai­ning a healt­hy body, as the body is a necessa­ry foun­da­ti­on for the rest of the home. The trees in the gar­den repre­sent our rela­ti­ons­hips with other peop­le, our fami­ly and our work. The clouds over the house draw atten­ti­on to addic­ti­ve ten­den­ci­es. The­se easy-to-under­stand sym­bols con­tri­bu­te to a holistic awa­reness of health.

In the Decem­ber 2015 edi­ti­on of the news­pa­per ‘Ärz­te Woche’, Dr. Hengst­ber­ger exp­lai­ned in con­ver­sa­ti­on with Dr. Klepeisz the con­cept of the shel­ter. In just 5 minu­tes, you can learn about the simp­le ver­si­on of the Pro­tec­tion House and ana­ly­ze your own health.

GIRLS CALENDAR

This calen­dar was ori­gi­nal­ly crea­ted to help school­girls in Roma­ni­an orpha­na­ges learn about their bodies in a fun and enga­ging way. It is now also avail­ab­le in Ger­man, Eng­lish, French, Spa­nish and Kin­yar­wan­da (the offi­cial lan­guage in Rwan­da).

This calen­dar not only exp­lains the pha­ses of the fema­le cycle, it also high­lights the impact of the pha­ses. While women and girls gene­ral­ly feel very com­for­ta­ble and more acti­ve during the est­ro­gen pha­se, the oppo­si­te is the case during the pro­ges­te­ro­ne pha­se. If girls use this calen­dar con­ti­nuous­ly for three mon­ths and note their moods and how their bodies feel, they can deve­lop an awa­reness of their own cycle and bet­ter under­stand their own bodies. The calen­dar can be down­loa­ded for free here!

This tool can be acqui­red and used by NGOs. If inte­res­ted, plea­se send us an email to office@aktionregen.at.