Adolescent mothers are women between the ages of 11 and 19 who become pregnant and parent their children. Data from the Demographic and Health surveys show that almost 2 out 10 girls between the ages of 15 and 19 are reported to be pregnant or have had a child already. 2019 Statistics from Global Childhood Kenya shows that Kenya has the 3rd highest adolescent pregnancy rates with 82 births per 1,000 births and an estimate of over 13,000 girls dropping out of school each year to deliver their babies.
Adolescent pregnancy may be linked to things such as lack of information and education about reproduction, peer pressure, media influence, low socioeconomic status, Gender Based Violence (GBV) and harmful traditions & cultures such as early marriages that result to early engagement of sexual activities. Although some teenage pregnancies are intentional, the majority of them are unwanted and unplanned and lead to many negative outcomes for the mother and the baby as well.
As they are most likely to be come part of the World Health Organization (WHO) statistics (pregnancy and childbirth complications are the leading cause of death among girls aged 15-19 years globally. The toxic combination of young girls having sex, getting pregnant and going through childbirth when her body is not developed enough accounts for at least 25% of known fistula cases), the same population are still faced with numerous challenges from conception and through their pregnancy and majority are usually school going girls. Some of the challenges include: social stigma, lack of emotional support, poor healthcare access and stresses around new life adjustments resulting to suspending or dropping out of school.
LEFI, through the Adolescent Mothers’ Program, chapters have been set up in the Counties of operation to engage adolescent mothers as an initiative to enhance the Ministry of Education’s goal through learning institutions of supporting expectant school going girls to resume schooling post-delivery. LEFI provides psychosocial support and counselling to the pregnant adolescent girls/mothers as they go through the shame of carrying pregnancy and the trauma of going through delivery. For continued healing, LEFI creates a support system for this population by establishing safe platforms for them to share their experiences / stories in order for them to successfully heal and pursue their academic dreams.
LEFI’s engagement with the adolescent mothers remains a critical aspect of its Prevention Work as LEFI also strives to turn scars into stars.