‘Kuvunjika kwa mwiko sio mwisho wa kusonga ugali’
The Swahili saying above completely encompasses the beauty that is PS Kenya’s Binti Shupavu project. Like a phoenix rising from its ashes, the project gives young adolescent girls/mothers a second chance at life, by educating them on their different contraceptive choices as well as empowering them with different vocational skills such as hairdressing, tailoring and even plumbing.
On the 23rd of March 2023, in the Marekebuni area of Kilifi County, 30 girls ranging between the ages of 15-19 graduated from the Binti Shupavu project under the proud gaze of their friends, family and program donors. This cohort of girls underwent training under the Binti Shupavu program for two months during which they were linked with the Marekebuni Dispensary for sexual reproductive health education in the first phase. The girls were then taken through an economic empowerment curriculum that involved different topics and skills such as soap making, hair dressing and cosmetology.
According to the Kenya Demographic Health Survey 2022, Kilifi County’s teenage pregnancy rate stands at 12.5% as compared to the national level of 15%. From instigators such as boda boda riders to their own fathers and uncles and practices such as ‘disco matanga’ coupled with misinformation on family planning, the girls in Kilifi County have the odds stacked against them. Teenage pregnancies not only have serious reproductive health implications but also psychosocial and economic ones for the girls. Being thwarted into young motherhood without a proper fall back plan and guidance system can result in a domino effect made up of generational poverty.
PS Kenya’s Binti Shupavu project is currently active in four counties, that is: Kilifi, Homabay, Migori and Narok. The project aims to give the adolescents and young mothers a chance to break the vicious cycle of poverty by giving them the necessary push and tools to not only achieve their goals but also gain a voice in their communities. By educating the girls on their contraception choices, the project gives them the power to decide on what their future will look like.
Binti Shupavu achieves its impact through the use of community influencers that dispel any myths and misconceptions that bar the girls from the uptake of family planning. The project also offers the girls a safe space to connect with their peers and share their stories as well as motivate each other. Through this project, 161 adolescent girls have joined vocational schools, 148 have started individual businesses, 425 formed self-help groups, 117 were linked to Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and 22 returned to school.
Binti Shupavu gives the girls a chance to pursue their dreams even after dropping out of primary or secondary school education due to either having a baby or any other reason. It provides a necessary alternative for the girls as they explore their potential to become better, not only for themselves, but for their families and communities as a whole.