Kenya remains 3rd highest ranked country in teen pregnancies globally. This results from the fact that 1 in every 5 girls aged 15-19 is either pregnant or has delivered their first child. 98% of those teenage mothers who give birth dropout of school to start raising their child, leading to the absurd state of a child raising a child. The big question of why the spike in cases of teen pregnancy? What can prevent the chronic wound from robbing our young sisters of the joy of being a child? Should we as a community start explicitly educating our children on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights?
This unfavourable situation is affecting our economy and the development process of our children. It is cultivating a dependent economy that can be best expressed as "nisaidie, nisaideko" because the young mothers do not have the financial stability to support their children with basic needs.
In 2023, Gingko has prioritized preventing teen pregnancy through creative education in Sexual and Reproductive health and mental health. Maximising peer-to-peer learning, in January 2023, Gingko equipped 10 teen mothers with mentorship and facilitation skills to return to the communities to mentor their peers with the correct information about sex and reproductive health. This 6 months mentorship program is designed to provide a safe space for teenagers to learn together and unpack some of the myths in society around sex education. Also, they are spaces to involve parents and community leaders to engage with the boys and girls to find solutions to end teen pregnancies.
In February 2023, Gingko mentors started conducting mentorship sessions in Kawangware, Kibera, and Dandora slums in Nairobi, Kenya. So far, they are mentoring 49 boys and girls. Embracing sustainable education, the mentors use Blossom Through Teenagehood book as a toolkit and complement the learning with their personal experiences to conduct the mentors. After the one-month mentorship session, some of the participants were able to attest to the following;
The sessions were really great. We have been taught about topics that we are not taught at home, like how to prevent Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and my responsibility in preventing teen pregnancy. (Mike Ryan, 13, Kawangware)
"I have been taught things I didn't know, like how to handle myself now that I am undergoing body changes." (Sylvia, 15, Dandora).
"The lessons on Stress and mental issues have helped me understand myself and know where to seek help when I am dealing with a lot of issues" (Helen, 13, Kibera).
Furthermore, the mentorship sessions also support the teen mothers who are involved as mentors to inspire more young people while earning stipends to contribute to their financial stability and access to medical insurance.
"The mentorship sessions have helped me understand the effects of teenage pregnancy in areas away from my home. I have also gained a lot of self-confidence by sharing my story with other teens, and I feel like I am giving back to society by mentoring them. I also earn from mentoring, which has enabled me to take care of my child better." (Vennah, 18, Gingko Mentor)
Gingko contributes to the holistic development of teenagers and the financial independence of teen mothers. As unexpected pregnancies remain a challenge in our communities, Gingko is taking strides in contributing to Sustainable Development Goals 3- Good Health and Wellbeing, 4 - Quality Education, and 17- Partnership for the Goals, to reduce teen pregnancies.
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