I was having lunch with a great Aussie colleague the other day…and we were talking about, well, ladies’ stuff…and turns out she’s a vegetarian because of some challenges with endometriosis and the hormones in meat that were making her life difficult as a result.
She’s a typical Antipodean lass (if I may generalize) – kind, hardworking, self-deprecating, laid back, pragmatic…and not really raised in any faith, so far as I can tell. Our chat meandered towards the question of contraception, and I shared with her about natural family planning, which not surprisingly, she had never heard about. As has been the response by several non-religious development colleagues that I’ve spoken to over the last few months, she was enthralled by the idea – not so much for herself, but for the potential that NFP has in the developing world. At least, the Billings Ovulation Method™ that is. Now, that’s the only method I know and the one I’m learning to teach, so my view is biased and I know there are some other reliable methods (not all!). Billings is the only method that I know can be taught simply and cheaply to any woman, whether blind, deaf, illiterate or irregular.
Of course, there’s lots of reasons why Billings hasn’t (yet) ‘made it big’ in the development sector, in spite of several very good field trials. Not least of which some rather lucrative commercial gains to be made by making the developing world dependent on contraception – but I still believe that only a small (elite) minority of people involved in family planning really have this in mind. The rest are just looking at the very real challenges of poverty, inequality and injustice and working with what they know. The other side is the relative size of Billings awareness around the world – not high. If you’re considering where to place your financial support for the poorest of the poor, think about donating to the World Organisation for the Billings Ovulation Method (WOOMB) (Ok, financial pitch over…). And then there’s that ‘cool club’ element in development (as in any industry) where you have to fit into the system, talk the talk, know how to jump through the right hoops in order to get your idea listened to…sad, but let’s be real, and in many respects it is a necessary means for quality control because, these days, you need more than ‘good intentions’. And Billings is much more than good intentions.
I have faith, in any case, that there are enough people in the development sector that are genuinely motivated by, well, what works…and after decades of trying to make modern contraception ‘work’, with a dizzying amount of money thrown at the effort, certain people or cultures around the world simply don’t want to buy it (proverbially speaking) – or they buy in reluctantly, wishing there was another way. The reasons for this are a thousand-fold, subtle and complex, and the research is out there to prove it…here’s one great example.
Everyone is on about ‘being innovative’ and ‘thinking outside the box’ so why not try something ‘new’ (that actually isn’t new at all)? In other words, as my Mum would say, the answer is ‘No’ until you ask.