Written By Ramadhan Kambi 📝
A project in Kilifi County dubbed ‘Education for life leave no girl behind’ initiated and being implemented by Sauti ya Wanawake Pwani in partnership with Action Aid Kenya is changing the narrative on the plight of teen mothers in the region.
It must be remembered that in 2020 Kilifi County Made headlines and shocked the nation after more than 17,000 teenage girls reportedly got pregnant at a tender age.
Traditionally teenage girls who get pregnant drop out of school and end up getting married or are left with the burden of bringing up their children.
Most of them end up living miserable lives in their rural homes as the majority hail from poverty-stricken families.
With the project up and running, most girls have now enrolled and now doing courses that are slowly transforming their lives for the better and will soon going to be independent.
One of the beneficiaries Dorah Karisa got pregnant at a tender age, her family disowned her claiming she had become a burden.
She dropped out of school and ended up doing odd casual jobs in her area to survive with her child in their rural home in Singwaya Magarini Sub County.
Ms Karisa was among the 17,000 teenage girls who made headlines in Kilifi County in 2020 after they reportedly got pregnant which shocked the entire nation.
She is however among the lucky ones who were enrolled in the project which is transforming not only her life but over 1,300 others in Kilifi County who are soon going to be professionals in different sectors after undergoing life skill training and enrolled in youth polytechnics doing different courses.
We met some of the girls at Mapimo polytechnic grounds during a mentorship program organized by Sauti ya Wanawake Pwani.
Their tales and heart touching revelations filled with hope as many could not believe their journey of could make such a positive transformation after becoming teenage mothers.
Ms Karisa who is doing fashion design course at Marafa polytechnic revealed that her life has changed ever since she enrolled in the project of leave no girl behind.
In an interview she said when pregnant she thought her dreams of living a good life had hit a dead end.
At the catch-up center Karisa and other teenage mothers were mentored and trained on life skills for nine months.
She later was enrolled at Marafa polytechnic doing fashion design and proudly revealed that the she personally made the skirt she was wearing.
After completing the course, she plans to open her own workshop to design clothes for people and that will help her being independent.
Karisa got pregnant while in class six and the man dumped her leaving her with the burden of brining u the child because she was rough and not smart.
She advised fellow girls to know that once one gets pregnant and is sidelined at home, she should not lose hope but focus and pray God for the best.
Dama Kaingu from Mwangatini area in Magarini dropped out of school while in class six and got married but the marriage did not last due to mistreatment.
She said one day she became sick and her husband frustrated her and did not want to take care of her which forced her to return home.
Ms Kaingu chose to do wiring course and is now doing well.
Chistine Karisa on her part revealed that her life took a twist after she was impregnated while in school and she lost hope of living a good life in future.
Ms Karisa also dropped out of school and got married at a tender age but the marriage did not last force her to return home and begin selling firewood for survival.
She is also lucky to be among those beneficiaries of the leave no girl behind project where she is studying as a mechanic at Marafa Polytechnic.
She revealed that her family had disowned her after getting pregnant as they found her a burden for being a teenage mother.
In July she will be through with her course which lasted for one year.
Asked why she chose the course dominated by Men Karisa said in their catch-up center class they were 70 and majority took business course, fashion and design, hair dressing among other common courses.
Alice Mangi on her part is proud to call herself an engineer having studied plumbing and pipe fitting at Marafa polytechnic.
Hailing from Baricho, Ms Mangi also a teen mother chose to be a plumber and is now able to do any sort of plumbing works even though she is yet to complete her course.
She dropped out of school while in class seven and used to fetch water, firewood for sell and other odd jobs until Action aid project came and she decided to do plumbing.
At the college she said they are not paid for any work they do but whenever they get a job outside school, they are paid for it.
Lucky Mwaka from Sauti ya Wanawake who is in charge of the project said they target girls aged 14 and 19 to empower them with skills of literacy and numerous to know how to read and right then help them choose pathways of where they are interested to pursue in life.
The aim of the project she said is to break the barriers which prevent girls from accessing education.
Currently she said educati8on for life project has 1241 girls in Kilifi County and among them some chose to go for polytechnic.
As sauti ya Wanawake in partnership with action Aid they are happy to have transformed the lives of the girls from far for the better.
She said 393 girls have been financed to undergo training at the different vocational training centers in Malindi and Magarini.
Simon Wankuru Action Aid Kenya Local right program and partnership Coordinator based at the Coast Supporting programs in Kilifi and Mombasa counties said the project is being implemented in five counties in the country.
He said in Kilifi the girls went through training on life skills and literacy skills in the project aimed at reaching out to most vulnerable girls.
Normally he said the girls begin y going for life skill training in catchment centers for nine months after which they go to eighter formal school, do business, join vocational training or artisan courses.
For those interested in business he said they were given start up kits do begin business so as to transform their lives for the better.