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Life Skills Education to End Teenage Pregnancy

by Hope Foundation for African Women (HFAW)
Life Skills Education to End Teenage Pregnancy
Joyce, Gladys, and Lydia facilitating
Joyce, Gladys, and Lydia facilitating

Dear Friend and Partner

The life skills education targets positively influence behavior among the youths. Most of the social problems we see in our community are because of a lack of sufficient and appropriate life-skills education. We are in the process of changing this narrative. We visited Don Bosco primary school in Nyamira County, Kenya, to continue with the mission of ensuring that the younger population understands their rights and use the knowledge to identify and report instances of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. We interacted with 150 students between 5 and 13 years.

Joyce, Gladys, and Lydia, HFAW community health promoters, facilitated the session. As people who work at the grass-root level, we understand the challenges that children whose parents are more concerned with providing and working tirelessly out of poverty experience. The teachers may not adequately cover life skills education, given the pressure on covering the academic curriculum. Therefore, your support in this initiative has ensured that the younger generation is all-round equipped to face life. The issues discussed include children’s rights, sexual and reproductive health, and the health effects of FGM.  

‘Our bodies are our own, and no one has the right to touch them inappropriately. If you feel that someone is touching you inappropriately, ask them to stop. Also, report to someone you can trust and confide in regarding the issue. No one should touch your private parts’, said Glady’s HFAW CHHRP.

The message was passed alongside a song showing the children their bodies and asking them to ensure that no one touches them inappropriately. The video can be accessed here.

Another issue discussed was Female Genital Mutilation. The practice is rampant in Nyamira despite the government of Kenya criminalizing it. Because of the seriousness of the consequences when one is found aiding or supporting FGM, adamant community members have resorted to practicing FGM on children as young as five years in secrecy.

‘FGM is bad, and no one should try to persuade you to go through it. You should be protected from it, and when you feel that you are at risk, know that you can report to your teacher.’ Said Lydia, HFAW CHHRP.

As we ended the session, we could see the joy and excitement in the children’s faces. It was a clear indication that they enjoyed learning and that they are in better positions to resist harm and abuse. 

‘Today, I have learned that my body is mine, and no one should touch my private parts,’ said one of the students.

Dear friend and partner, thank you for ensuring the children in our community access life skills education. We know you, and I can do more for longer using more resources if we have enough funds. We are lucky to have you, and we ask you to continue supporting us in thoughts, prayers, and giving. Share Life Skills Education with your friends and family so that they can know the great impact you are making in our community.

Gladys talking to the students
Gladys talking to the students
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Beneficiaries of the program during a session
Beneficiaries of the program during a session

Dear Friend and Partner

Nelson Mandela, philanthropist and 1993 nobel peace prize winner, once said that education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. The Lifeskills education program is built on the belief that girls are powerful component of the social-economic progress of our community-if they are empowered. As such, the program that runs courtesy of your kind support has been made a positive change in leveraging girls in Nymira.

Catherine, from Borabu sub-county, Nyamira, is a beneficiary of the life-skills education program offered by Hope Foundation for African Women during the International Day for the Girl Child, 2019.

‘I am glad I discovered this program at a time when I need guidance. I was born and raised here. I know the challenges I, and other girls experience. The girl child is at risk of being forced into FGM, early marriage, and poverty. We should be mentored and given skills to help us be free, enlightened, and empowered. I am glad that HFAW brought the program here. I enjoyed every bit of it’, said Catherine.

You can listen to Catherine speaking on the challenges facing her, and other girls in Nyamira, and her quest for more mentorship programs through clicking on the link provided alongside this report.

Nearly half of our community lives in poverty. Girls are among the groups that are most affected by the sorry-state of socio-economic conditions. Furthermore, being that we are approaching the holiday, most of them are at the highest risk of undergoing FGM, being initiated into romantic relationships hence putting them at risk of early marriage and dropping out of school. We wish to change this narrative. All girls deserve to be free and empowered. All girls need life skills education.

Dear friend and partner, we are greatful for your consistent support in this initiative. You have chosen this project, and we are humbled to be implementing it on your behalf. You are putting a smile on the faces of many girls like Catherine. It has not been a walk in the park. Thankfully, we have you, and we look forward to more of your support.

Tindereti students after a session
Tindereti students after a session
Catherine leading other girls during the program
Catherine leading other girls during the program

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A parent asking teenagers to focus on school
A parent asking teenagers to focus on school

Dear Friends

              Hope Foundation for African is focussed on bringing positive change to the community. Our interventions are channeled to reach each member of the community-especially the youths. On 23rd, August, HFAW held a youth empowerment event in collaboration with Life Beyond Matutu, a Community Based Organization based in Nyaronde, Nyamira. The event was so successful. It took the edutainment approach. We had fun activities like modelling, eating competition, football competition, and a chess game. On the education end, we held a discussion on issues like more youths going to school, ending FGM, stopping drug abuse, ending teenage pregnancies, and having mentors.

              Last month, Nyamira county was ranked among the top five counties with the highest cases of teenage pregnancies. The report elicited a lot of reactions from the locals and the entire nation. Many called for swift action to curb the challenge. As such, this was the best platform for the community to converge and chant a way forward on ending teenage pregnancies in the region.

              “I believe we can improve our children’s morals by encouraging our children to go to school and work hard. Education opens doors of unending opportunities. It empowers one with the knowledge and skills that she can use to improve the living condition. Education also instills moral values that enable one to critically analyze situations before taking actions like engaging in premature sexual relations”, said Beatrice, a representative from the Ministry of Education Kenya.

                   Why Nyamira continues to grapple with rampant cases of teenage pregnancy

              Part of the reason why Nyamira grapples with the problem of teenage pregnancies is high rates of poverty, which contributes to school drop-outs and persistence of harmful practices like FGM. Additionally, right from childhood, girls are socialized into feeling inferior to boys and staying submissive. They are denied access to opportunities which can make open doors for a better future. The challenges translate to lack of confidence, low self-esteem, and stress, which put them at risk of teenage pregnancies.

              “If you forget everything that I have said today, please do not forget to have a mentor. This is someone you look up to for guidance. It may be your mother, father, teacher, or even me. Mentors help set your life in the right direction through guiding you and motivating you to work hard and stay disciplined”, said Rachel, a representative from the Children’s office, Nyamira, Kenya.

              Young girls in our community are in dire need of mentors. They need people to look up to. They need to know that success is possible for everyone who works towards it. They need to be taught life skills and encouraged to keep on soaring despite the challenges they face on a daily basis. They need mentors to help them break from the cycle of poverty that is characterized by teenage pregnancies, early marriage, domestic violence, and FGM.

              “The Bible says that there is time for everything. Young girls and boys right now is the time to learn and prepare your future. Do not use this time to be a parent. Focus on education so that you can secure a   future full of possibilities”, said Beatrice, the representative from the ministry of education, Kenya.

                                          Youths need to to have confidence in themselves

              Another key issue discussed was confidence and self-esteem among young people. Teenagers and young adults need to be confident and believe in themselves. Such an attitude will improve their abilities to make informed decision to abstain from sex until marriage. It will propel them towards chasing their dreams and bringing positive change in the community. Most importantly, it will protect girls from giving into early romantic advances.

               Dear friend and partner, this program was possible because of you. Your contribution is bringing our community together in forums and sparking conversations on the problem of teenage pregnancy that is often discussed in a low tone. Now more than ever, we are making it known, in words and actions, from one corner of the community to another, that the persistence of teenage pregnancy is unacceptable. We are holding leaders accountable for failing to formulate policies to protect girls. We are holding law enforcers responsible for failing to apply the law strictly and prosecuting men and boys found guilty of impregnating teenage girls. Do not forget to share our work on life skills education to end with your friends and family so that they can see the smile you are putting on the faces of people from our community.

Representative, ministry of education, speaking
Representative, ministry of education, speaking
Area sub-chief and HFAW acting CEO, playing chess
Area sub-chief and HFAW acting CEO, playing chess
Participants during football competition
Participants during football competition
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Mothers during a girls' mentorship session
Mothers during a girls' mentorship session

Dear partner and friend

Teenage pregnancies have been recently under the spotlight for derailing the success of the girl child in the society. Many approaches that have been used to fight the vices have been girl-centered. As such, HFAW identified the need to move beyond the girl-centered approach and make older women at the center of community transformation.  It is because they have been socialized to uphold misogynist gender norms. Therefore, we believe that, just as a hen jealously protects its chicks from a threat, so should older women protect girls from FGM, child-marriage, and prevent teenage pregnancies. 

Our interactions with the community members have given us the first-hand experience of the lengths that women go through so that their daughters are safe from teenage pregnancies.

One such woman is Joyce Amoyi. She says that she is yet to see something that will hinder her from protecting her daughters. Joyce takes us down the memory lane of the ordeals she has had to fight as a woman and mother to girls in the Abagusii community.

‘My problems started when I was approached by my in-laws to undergo FGM. I refused. So one of my sisters-in-law told me that they would cut me when giving birth. So, during the birth of my firstborn daughter, I asked the midwife to keep my in-laws away until I give birth.  I even told them to leave the baby’s clothes at the door because I knew their evil thoughts,’ Joyce narrates.

How women are on the losing end in matters teenage pregnancy…

There are many women like Joyce in Nyamira who support the war against retrogressive practices like FGM, child marriage, and teenage pregnancies. Some of them previously endorsed FGM because they believed that it was the only way to achieve the status of a true woman in the community. Consequently, they had to silently endure the burden of separating from their young daughters who get married few years after undergoing, painfully watch their daughters raise children while their peers are in school, and see them as they experience health effects of FGM.

‘When my girls became older. I maintained my stand that they too will not go through FGM. I knew it would put them at risk of early pregnancy and force them to abandon their studies for marriage. That is where they started experiencing hate. They would be called derogatory names by other women, including their grandmother. Some mothers would discourage their daughters from befriending my children. At some point, they had to move to another church because the hate had become too much. Nevertheless, I assured them that they were complete and should focus on being disciplined girls and working towards achieving their life goals’.

All of the three daughters of Amoyi who completed form four and passed the Kenya Certificate for Secondary School, successfully proceeded to the best colleges in the country. Sadly, we cannot say the same about some girls who went through FGM, dropped out of school because of pregnancy, and got married.  They are many. A study in 2014 by the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey showed that the region is among the top five with high cases of early pregnancies and FGM with a prevalence of 28%. Meaning the problem is far from over.

Placing Mothers at the Center of offering Life Skills Education…

Since the beginning of this year, HFAW has focused on using mothers to provide life skills education to end teenage pregnancy. So far, we have visited three schools and in all of them, women who are members our Community Health and Human Rights promoters, have taken the proactive roles of teaching girls to abstain and avoid teenage pregnancies. We have learned that our mothers are important in solving the problem of teenage pregnancy. Therefore, we plan to conduct intense training and empowerment session to increase their capacity in impacting students with life skills that can end teenage pregnancy.

Dear partner and friend, this initiative has had a lot of positive outcomes in our community.  Thus, we are confident that the rate of teenage pregnancy will be lower in the next national survey by the KDHS. We would like to visit at least two schools per month between June 2019 and March 2020. Therefore, we humbly back to you asking you for your contributions to support the two school visits per month between June 2019 and March 2020. 

Joyce Amoyi teaching students life skills
Joyce Amoyi teaching students life skills
Mothers talking to students during a group session
Mothers talking to students during a group session
All ears on what Gladys is saying on  life skills
All ears on what Gladys is saying on life skills
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Mr. Yebesh Orina addressing the girls
Mr. Yebesh Orina addressing the girls

Dear Friend, Colleagues, and supporters

Despite many advances that have been made in the overall sexual reproductive health, information on reproductive health among female teenagers could be improved. According to the African traditional culture, educating girls on sexual and reproductive is considered women’s responsibilities. Yet, men play critical roles in the ability of women or young girls in seeking sex and reproductive health services. They make decisions whether and when teenage girls can seek healthcare services. The result of not involving men has led to challenges like high cases of early unwanted teenage pregnancies, increase in the prevalence of female genital mutilation, spread of sexually transmitted diseases and high levels of school drop-out. It is in this spirit that HFAW decided to mark the Zero Tolerance for FGM International Day by holding a school outreach at Menyenya Primary, Kijauri Town, Nyansiongo.

HFAW has done many school outreaches since 2015. However, this was like no other. On this day, we prioritized men talking to teenage girls on sexual and reproductive health. Admittedly, we knew that it was risky move from a cultural perspective. Nevertheless, the availability of willing and able male community health and human rights promoters (CRHPP) made the activity successful.

It was so pleasing to see how men took the initiative to lead the sessions. They educated the girls about the emotional, physical, and mental changes they will have to go through during adolescence.

“At some point in your growth and development, you will experience an increased sense of consciousness and need for independence. This is normal and should not stress nor pressure you to get engaged in early intimate relationships or consent to FGM. Stay assured of our support and get closer to your parents as well since their support is equally important in protecting you from the negative eventualities of the adolescence stage like unwanted teenage pregnancies”, said Yebesh Orina.

One girl asked, “I would like to know why girls experience monthly periods?”

Admittedly, prior to the event, few of them had knowledge regarding menstrual health. However, they were assured that it is a normal biological process that every girl experiences. They were assured that it is a sign of development and they should maintain high standards of hygiene during this period and avoid stress.

Another girl remarked, “Why is it that my grandmothers claims that if a girl is not circumcised, she cannot give birth?”

This question was a good sign that the girls were willing to open up to the CRRHPs. Topics related to sexual and reproductive health, especially FGM, are often expressed in low tones and secrecy. They were told, contrary to the information they had, FGM puts one at risk of numerous infections and health complications that will negatively affect one’s ability to give birth.

Not Just Girls alone

The boys’ group was equally interactive. Just like the girl’s group, they were taught and given an opportunity to ask questions. The CRRHPs explained the changes they are likely to experience during adolescence. They were told that it is during such a time that they should take care of themselves and restrain from engaging in early intimate relationships that will distract them from their studies hence preventing them from achieving their life goals. Also, they were asked to take care of their female peers who are equally experiencing pressure because of the physical and emotional changes that occur during adolescence. Then, they were asked to be at the forefront in protecting their sisters and female classmates from being subjected to FGM.

Keeping girls safe is the priority of HFAW. Gladly, this event provided a platform for HFAW to continue showing its commitment in protecting girls in the country. To us, it is a calling and regardless of the challenges that may come with it, we are proud of the achievements we have made. We are humbled by the support we have received from you. We do not take your generosity and sense of good-will for granted. We ask you to continue sharing this information with friends and families so that they can see how you have impacted lives and encourage them to participate in the same.

Mrs. Gladys answering questions asked by the girls
Mrs. Gladys answering questions asked by the girls
The CHHRPs interacting with the students
The CHHRPs interacting with the students
Miss Leah, the acting CEO, addressing the students
Miss Leah, the acting CEO, addressing the students

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Organization Information

Hope Foundation for African Women (HFAW)

Location: Nairobi, Kiambu County - Kenya
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @HFAW2015
Project Leader:
Dr. Grace Bonareri Mose Okong'o
Nairobi, Nairobi County Kenya
$1,135 raised of $5,000 goal
 
20 donations
$3,865 to go
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