Just at the heart of Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, lies Africa's largest informal settlement, Kibera slum. Spread out with murram roads, garbage dumping sites and water streams, quite a sight to gaze upon.
This is the home of 25% of teen girls aged 15-19 years who have already given birth or are pregnant due to lack of empowerment and education on premarital sexual relations. Some accept their fate as teen mothers and keep the child while others choose to abort. 98% of those who give birth dropout of school. With the deafening rejection, stigma and judgements from the society filling up the air, the teen moms tend to give up on making their lives better.
Getting to interact with the teen moms closely, most of the teen girls got pregnant due to different reasons; the surrounding environment, poverty and peer pressure are the leading factors. Some of the girls trade sex for basic needs such as food and sanitary towels, as their guardians or parents have limited or no source of income. To add insult to injury, most of the men responsible for the pregnancies, refuse to take responsibility for the teen mother and the expected child.
Beginning a new chapter in their lives, most of the girls were not ready to get pregnant. This led to an abrupt shift in their childhood. The abrupt and unprepared transition from childhood to motherhood have robbed the girls of good relationships with parents, friends and society as they are viewed as a disgrace.
To demonstrate a desire to conquer their challenges, most girls have gone back to school after childbirth with the hope of creating a better future for themselves and their children.Some also enroll in self-help and employment programs like Gingko to learn skills such as entrepreneurship, talent management, technical studies and life skills. It takes a lot of determination, hardwork and resilience for a teenage mom to juggle between going to school, raising a child and fending for their child. Testimonials from such teen moms have one thing in common: they strive towards a better future for themselves and their children. Let’s light a candle in this dark tunnel to guide them safely to the other side.