STORIES OF HOPE: How one couple is saving pregnant teenage girls
Most girls in their teens are thinking about clothes, boys and parties. However, when one gets pregnant at this stage, the dynamics change and the society tends to write them off. But three young women who had children as teenagers are writing their own narrative and striving to achieve the best they can thanks to a couple that held their hands during the journey. Here are their stories of hope.
In 2009 and at the age of 14, Tracy Kinyanjui found out she was pregnant. She had just dropped out of high school because her family couldn’t afford her school fees and the pregnancy was going to deter her further in life – or so she thought.
Terrified, Tracy kept the news of her pregnancy to herself. However, her mum summoned her one day and asked her if the pregnancy rumours about her were true.
“I looked at her on the face and lied that I was not pregnant. But I guess mothers always know. She made it clear that I was now on my own,” Tracy explains although she still took care of Tracy until she gave birth to her daughter, Brigitte Kinyanjui, on December 5, 2010.
“However, soon after, my mother got into depression when she learnt that she was pregnant with her third child. I had just gotten my baby, which meant there was going to be a further financial strain on her. She turned violent and would chase us away from time to time,” Tracy explains.
Tracy found refuge in her elder brother’s home and it was while there that a family friend introduced her to Wings of Compassion, a centre that offered a feeding programme and counselling to teenage mothers. She would leave her baby at the centre as she sought menial jobs.
“It was then that I was enrolled in adult education and was able to complete my secondary education. Afterwards, I pursued a course in beauty and got a job at a salon. I have currently partnered with a friend and established a salon business in Marurui, which I am confident will soon pick up and enable me to establish myself and my family financially,” she enthusiastically shares.
She has also reconnected with her mother and has a great relationship with her.
While in form four, Elizabeth Matangi began a relationship with an older man. Their relationship was only a few months old when Elizabeth fell pregnant. She broke the news to him and his response was a rather loud silence. The next thing she knew he had changed his telephone number.
Elizabeth says her parents were always very liberal throughout her upbringing. She used to study in Machakos, which was a bit far from home and her parents were unaware of her lifestyle at school. Although she doesn’t blame them for her pregnancy, she acknowledges that their relaxed style of parenting somehow gave her the freedom to think she could easily get away with things without their knowledge.
When Elizabeth completed her KCSE, she didn’t go home to her parents. Instead, she sought accommodation at her elder sister’s house.
As the pregnancy grew, they could no longer hide it from their parents.
Her parents’ reaction was that of disappointment. Her dad especially felt that Elizabeth’s schooling life had come to an end and with no hope of her advancing her education further, he advised her to bring up her child and hope to get married someday.
In 2011, one of Elizabeth’s aunts introduced her to Wings of Compassion.
The centre enrolled her for a course in secretarial studies, which she has since completed. Although so far she has had jobs on contract basis, she hopes to eventually get a permanent job and be able to provide a decent life for her child.
Danshire Njoroge – Wings of Compassion founder
Rev. Danshire Njoroge and his wife Tabitha Dorcas have been providing help to pre-teen mothers in Kasarani, Nairobi since 2011. The inspiration behind it is heartbreaking.
“My wife and I had been volunteers at a certain children’s home for several years. One of the teenage girls. The policy was if a girl got pregnant, she had to leave the home immediately as she was seen to be a bad influence. This particular girl went to live with relatives in Malindi. We had calculated her time of delivery and once we were sure the baby must have been born, we made a trip there. When we asked to see her, we were directed to her grave in the family’s backyard. She had committed suicide. It was then we knew we had to do something. No other girl was going to fall through the cracks on our watch,” he explains adding suicide calls are not uncommon at the centre.
Danshire explains that some of the pregnancies are not always as a result of mischief.
“Some of the girls are victims of incest. The youngest pregnant girl we have ever received is a 10-year-old street girl who had been gang-raped. She wanted to abort the pregnancy but with counselling and private tuition, she has flourished. She joined class 8 in 2017. She is the top mathematics student in her class but when we found her, she had never attended a single school lesson!” exclaims Danshire.
Dorcas Tabitha adds, “We focus on delivery first. Thereafter, we find out what they want to achieve career-wise. We hire babysitters to look after the babies. At the moment we have three and the first one comes in at 6 am when the first girl is leaving for school and the last one leaves at 7 pm when the last girl comes back from school.”
The last phase of the programme involves finding job placements for the girls.
The biggest challenge the institution continues to face is finances.
“The girls are in private schools for their protection. Some well-wishers pay for their school fees but sometimes, they cannot attend classes because we do not have bus fare. We have to part with Ksh5000 every week for them to get to school. They are also nursing mothers and that means their nutritional needs are higher than those of regular girls. Since they are not allowed to carry food to school, they have to buy from the school canteen, which is costly,” Dorcas Tabitha concludes.
To reach Wings of Compassion, call 0721896609 or 0722169994