It was song and dance as a cohort of young mothers from Ol Mekenyu, Narok county, graduated from a vocational skills training that was organized and facilitated by the Binti Shupavu program in partnership with the County Government of Narok. Binti Shupavu (translates to brave daughter) is a Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) funded Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health program that provides adolescents and young mothers a platform where they can access sexual and reproductive health information and services while at the same time equipping them with skills that link them to economic opportunities.
During the graduation ceremony, the young mothers showcased the skills they gained during the training. They also elaborated on how they would use those skills to better their lives. The skills ranged from hair dressing, soap and detergent making, and tailoring. In addition, the young mothers have formed a group where they are engaged in tree planting. They grow tree seedlings and sell them for an income.
“Binti Shupavu imetusaidia kujifunza kuhusu mambo mengi kama afya ya uzazi, jinsi ya kumlea mtoto, pia imetufunza kutengeza sabuni, kusuka nywele na kushona, nitaweza kutumia haya mafunzo kuanzisha biashara ili niweze kupata pesa za kunisaidia na kusaidia mtoto wangu. (Binti Shupavu has taught us a lot. It has taught us about sexual and reproductive health and child health. It has also equipped us with skills like soap and detergent making, hair dressing, and tailoring. These skills will enable me to start a business and get some money that will help cater for my needs and those of my baby),” stated Sharon, a young mother and beneficiary of the Binti Shupavu program in Narok County.
In Kenya, teenage pregnancies are associated with dropping out of school, early marriages, poor child health, and an increase in poverty levels. When teenagers get pregnant, many never get a chance to go back to school and are either married off or remain at home attending to house chores. Those who desire to go back to school rarely get support from their families, and those who are lucky enough to get back to school have to live with the stigma associated with being a teenage mother.
Data from the Kenya Data and Health Survey (2014) shows that 1 in every 5 girls between 15 and 19 years is either pregnant or already a mother. As of 2019’s latest statistics from Global Childhood, Kenya has the third-highest teen pregnancy rate with 82 births per 1,000 births.
The program is also engaging parents of the young mothers, local administration, church leaders, and cultural elders through a session dubbed “Binti Shupavu Stories.” During these sessions, parents of teenage mothers share their experiences and jointly co-create solutions to reduce teenage pregnancies. The session also incorporates discussions on how to continue supporting these young mothers to realize their dreams.
The ceremony was graced by a team from the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation led by Julia Greenland, Director, SRHR-Girl Capital, and Mariamawit Tassew, Girl Capital, Africa, Manager. The team also held discussions with the health team from Narok County Government led by the County Director of Health, Dr Francis Kiio.