Amani* (Not her real name) was 16 years old when she got pregnant. She had to drop out of school because of teenage pregnancy. She contemplated getting rid of the pregnancy by trying to use unsafe options including overdosing and visiting a local quack doctor, but all efforts were futile. Her parents were unable to afford her schooling as she came from a low-income home. Her dreams were shattered.
These are some of the lived experiences of adolescent girls who saw their future stall. Many of them dropped out of school as a result of pregnancy, and the burden associated with raising a child is a nightmare. Let’s talk about the stigma and discrimination that teen mothers face in society. Families and parents don’t make it any easier for them as some are disowned, chased away or married off early. “I was told to leave home and go to the family of the baby’s child, which I didn’t want. Everyone in this circumstance always wants support, but that wasn’t the case for me. I felt abandoned. I know I messed up, but that didn’t mean I didn’t want to turn my life around.” Amani says.
Girls’ education is one of the Youth Changers Kenya’s (YCK) pillars and through the Johari project, we have reintegrated 11 teen mothers back to school to complete their secondary education. Not only did YCK pay the tuition fee through the Education and Innovation Fund supported by Amplify Girls, but also increased their knowledge of contraception, consent, safe sex, and safe abortion. In addition, YCK offered psychosocial support through telecounseling, individual counseling and group counseling sessions.
“Youth Changers Kenya gave me a second chance at education. Going back to school was a challenge. I had an infant, and it had been a while since I was in school, my new status as a teenage mom, and having to form new relations with my fellow students was overwhelming. I faced stigma, from the teachers, and students because I was a mom. Some would ask me why I am in school, yet I am a mother. Through counseling, I built my resilience to keep pushing, my confidence was boosted as well. In addition, my goal to finish school, get a good grade and go to university kept me going.” Amani* recounts her experience in school. “I am now happier. Thank you Youth Changers Kenya for believing in me when no one else could, and for giving me a second chance.”
YCK remains committed to supporting teen mothers to access quality education. As we speak, the teen mothers have completed their secondary education and passed their national examinations. They are currently in the process of selecting courses and university or colleges to pursue the courses they are passionate about. “A dream come true.”
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