, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 29 – Teenage pregnancies remains a serious social, economic and educational problem in most parts of rural Kenya.
Teenage pregnancies have been linked to poverty, with many girls believed to be engaging in “transitional” sex to meet basic needs.
The root cause of this problem being that the young girls have a sense of worthlessness and hopelessness about their future that makes them establish the relationships that leave them with babies they are ill equipped to rear.
This in turn creates an ever growing underclass condemned to poverty and to a dependency on welfare.
However, Sauti ya Wanawake, a welfare group at Marafa in Magarini Constituency has made the step in addressing teenage pregnancy in the region.
In partnership with ActionAid Kenya, a new Community Resource and Protection Center has been opened in the area to rescue and empower teenage mothers who are among the 17,000 victims of early pregnancy in Kilifi County.
The Model facility which is first of its kind was established with funds from the People’s Postcode Lottery at a cost of more than 4 million shillings.
The center, a first of its kind in the county, is fully equipped with facilities to offer training to young mothers and girls who have been disadvantaged on tailoring, hairdressing and masonry.
It also has a nursing and playing room with caretakers for young mothers to leave their children, so as to enable them to continue learning while leaving their children in a safe space.
Marafa community Resource comes at a time when cases of teenage pregnancies in Magarini sub-county alone have increased from 5000 girls in 2018 to 8000 this year.
Area Member of Parliament Michael Kingi who officially opened the resource center hailed ActionAid for coming up with the initiative, saying the move was development-oriented.
“The issue of teenage pregnancy has been a challenge particularly in Magarini and the entire county and such programs will help protect the young teenagers who are not only victims of early pregnancies but also the deadly virus of HIV,” Kingi noted.
Also present was the Kilifi CEC Member for Gender, Culture and Social Services Maureen Mwangovya, who said the center will go a long way in helping the teenage mothers attain development skills that can earn them an income.
“Teenage pregnancy should not signify the end of life to these young girls as they can be useful people in the society. And this center will give them the opportunity they so much deserve,” she expressed.
ActionAid’s Programs Support Unit, Team Leader Jane Kigen said the centre is ideal not only for teenage mothers but for girls who drop out of school and are not able to proceed to the tertiary level.
“The strategy of supporting and enabling girls and women has proved that they have the potential and can excel given a chance and opportunity,” Kigen stated.
Some of the young mothers who are students hailed the opening of the resource center as it will enable then acquire vocational skills hence income to support themselves and their children- a model institution that will offer a holistic approach in tackling barriers to education for young mothers in Marafa.
Currently the center has over 160 young mothers who are undergoing training.
“Not all will be here for one or two years, some are fast learners and so they are able to complete their courses in three to four months,” she pointed out.