Restoring Hope and Dreams: An Inspirational Story of a Binti Shupavu Beneficiary in Homabay County 

“I was unable to complete my education due to a forced marriage that resulted in my pregnancy during secondary school. This complicated my life, forcing me to abandon my dream of a brighter future for my humble family. At that time, I was very naive, simple, and immature. I didn’t know what to do, succumbing to my guardian’s pressure to marry a man who was not my choice. Since then, I don’t wish the same fate on my daughter or any child. My wish and prayers are to see her complete her education, pursue her goals, and achieve her life dreams. I understand this will be a heavy price that I must pay boldly and unapologetically since I didn’t provide a good foundation for her,” explains 18-year-old Lucy Atieno, a mother to 8-month-old Mercy from Kowidi village in Kabondo sub-county of Homabay County.

Lucy (left) talking to her friends at the Maternal Child and Health clinic, Kabondo sub-county Hospital waiting bay as they awaiting to access contraceptive services.

Lucy, now a mother of one, had aspired to become a doctor. Her dream was shattered when she became pregnant in 2021 at the age of 15, complicating her life and leaving her feeling hopeless. At the time of the marriage, Lucy was barely 16 years old. Life has since been challenging as she struggles to afford basic needs. Her husband, a peasant farmer, has no stable income, making their lives difficult. Lucy’s primary concern is providing for basic needs and raising school fees for her daughter.

“Sometimes we go to bed on empty stomachs because we have no stable means of putting food on the table. My life is full of regrets and lamentations. If I had known and accessed contraceptive services at an early age, I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have had an unplanned pregnancy. I would have completed my education and realized my dream of becoming a doctor. It is a lesson I have learned in the hardest and most painful way,” she explains.

Although Lucy is uneducated, she holds significant hopes and dreams for herself and her daughter. She desires to return to school, not only to secure a well-paying job but also to join a community of informed individuals. To achieve this, she has sought help through community empowerment initiatives, leading her to discover Binti Shupavu— A project funded by CIFF, Led by PSI, and implemented by PS Kenya in close partnership with the Ministry of Health, Kenya. The program aims to support girls’ agency and contraceptive decision-making by creating a safe space (Binti Shupavu Clinic) for young women to build trust in the health system, learn about contraception, and share experiences and stories with their peers. During the Binti Shupavu Clinic sessions, girls are engaged in goal setting and supported to understand how contraception can help them achieve their life goals. They also receive contraceptive services of their preference from a youth-friendly health provider. Lucy learned about this project through an invitation from her friend to attend the Binti Shupavu Clinic Session at the Kabondo sub-county hospital, informed by the Community Health Promoter (CHP).

Lucy, aspiring to join a day secondary school, is a member of a local adolescent forum initiated and run by the Binti Shupavu project under the Kabondo sub-county health facility. Here, she attends skill class sessions where she learns about goal setting, life skills, budgeting, and other relevant topics. The local adolescent forum provides a safe space for Lucy and her peers to discuss reproductive health challenges and support each other in their contraceptive journey. “I can easily access contraceptive services at the facility, discuss my challenges with the nurse, and feel supported by my friends. I have acquired skills in

soap making; I will be able to raise fees from it, go back to school, and support my child. I am excited,” said Lucy. Lucy is among 97,000 girls who have benefitted from the program by accessing Adolescent and Youth Friendly Services (AYFS) and accurate contraceptive information. Besides, she joins over 600 girls who have benefitted from economic empowerment through the skills classes.

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