Latest Post

Teen mothers learning braiding skills through the Tenwek’s Teen Mothers Program. This initiative equips them with valuable skills, ensuring they are prepared to support themselves and their babies in the future. Photo/Janet Nyamwamu



By Janet Nyamwamu

Teen pregnancy in Kenya has been a big issue among the poor families and living in rural areas and informal settlements in urban centers.

Poverty and lack of education have been associated with higher rates of adolescent pregnancy as about 4 in 10 women age 15 – 19 years who were have no education have ever been pregnant compared to only 5 per cent of women who have more than secondary education.

The 2022 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS) released by Kenya Bureau of Statistics revealed that adolescent pregnancies are also more likely to occur among poor communities, as 21 per cent of women aged 15-19 in the lowest wealth quantile reported to have been pregnant, as compared to 8 per cent in the highest wealth quantile.

However, KDHS data indicate that teenage pregnancy rates declined to 15 per cent in 2022, from 18 per cent in 2014.

In a move to curb teen pregnancies, in March 2021, the then Interior and Coordination of National Government Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Fred Matiang’I, directed the chiefs and their assistants to arrest any man responsible for teen pregnancies. Dr. Matiang’i also banned disco matangas as a move to save teenage girls from getting pregnant.

The directive ignited an idea in a concerned Jonathan Bii, the Director at Tenwek Hospital Community Health and Development in Bomet County who decided to focus on Bomet County.

Bii says that the initiative started in 2022 when he learnt on media about the directive. “I then realized that CS Dr. Matiang’i was very passionate about girl child education. That is when I started doing my research here in Bomet to find out the state of teen pregnancies and how I can help.’’ His mission was to see teen mothers going back to school.

‘‘I targeted schools and villages, and when I discovered numbers were not tallying, I decided to visit households and what I discovered gave me the urge to look for ways to help teenagers,’’ says Bii.

He did not know that his efforts would give birth to Teen Mothers Program that was embraced by Tenwek Community Health and Development (THCHD).

The program has since received donor support and currently supports 40 teen mothers who will also act as ambassadors of the programme. ‘‘We hope to change their lives and make them our ambassadors to other teenagers to avoid engaging in early sexual activities,” said Bii.

One of those beneficiaries is Chebet (not her real name) who counts herself lucky for receiving a second chance to resume her education journey.

‘‘I blame the long period we stayed idle at home during the COVID-19 school closure. I can’t believe how stupid and naive I was, I did not even know that sleeping and doing bad manners with a boy or a man will make a baby,’’ she says with tears in her eyes.

Chebet did not even know she was pregnant. Neither did her parents notice a thing about her pregnancy. They both thought she was only adding weight.

‘‘One morning I had a normal short call urge and some stomach upsets. I went to the toilet, and I was shocked to have a baby come out and I was afraid to even leave the toilet,’’ she shockingly said.

She sat there helplessly and confused. Her sister who was in the house came to check on her after she overstayed in the toilet only to find her shaking and holding a baby.

‘‘She ran to get my mother who had gone to the shamba and that’s how I became a mother at 14 years old,’’ she shyly said smiling.

Chebet says she is happy and grateful for THCD for taking her back to school. ‘‘I will forever be grateful and thankful for this chance.”

Monica Cheres a field facilitator of the Teen Mothers Programme says the programme is funded by Bread for the World (BROT), and it was necessitated by the teenage pregnancies that escalated during COVID 19.

“The 40 beneficiary girls we are supporting wet back to school as they take care of their babies. Right now, they are in form 1 and form 2. Three of them, who are the youngest just sat for their KCPE,’’ Cheres said.

Teen mother carrying her baby in one of the learning sessions on pedicure and manicure. Photo/Janet Nyamwamu

The programme offers them with exposure life skills like hair braiding, manicure, pedicure, tailoring and customer care skills.

She says: ‘‘Also we open their mind to see tomorrow and not today. We also take care of them spiritually by sharing with them the word of God.’’

‘‘Besides exposing them to life skills, we want them to develop interest on how to provide for their children in future. We have two girls who want to be doctors and they are doing very well,’’ she added.

The Teen Mothers Programme teaches parents of the teens on how to communicate and handle their teenagers.

‘‘We introduce income generation activities to help them take care of their teenagers and their babies, which they have embraced. They include having modern raised vegetable gardens for their own use and the surplus sold.

‘‘We want to help eradicate poverty in families because it is one of the contributing factors of teen pregnancies,’’ she concluded.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *