Jane *-not her real name, turned 14 years old on August 18 2016. At this tender age it is a common human expectation that a child is still under the guidance and protection of family, friends and the community at large. She should be playing around with children in her neighborhood and working hard in school, so as to secure herself a brighter future. She has just started her second teen age year and is still a child.
However, the sad irony is that the same family and community that presumably makes up the support system has some members who see Jane* as a prey for their untamed and illicit sexual desires. Jane’s mother is a casual laborer in a food processing plant and is a divorcee from an abusive marriage. She is therefore the sole bread winner and works night shifts so as to provide essential requirements for herself and her daughter. It is during these night shifts that sex predators take advantage of Jane’s* vulnerability.
Jane* narrated to World Friends her journey into motherhood and how she ended up sitting her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education papers in a maternity ward.
“I live in Kariadudu village in the slums of Baba Dogo with my mother. Life in the slums is a daily struggle, we even lack basic needs. At 13 years, I discovered I was pregnant. This was not easy especially since it happened only a few months before I could sit for my end of primary school exams. Life at home was not easy either. At times, my mother could sacrifice having her meals since there wasn’t enough food for the two of us. At seven months, I could not even go to school since I easily got fatigued and strained to walk. I stayed home longing for the day I would finally deliver. During Antenatal visits, nurses had told me that my due date was around 14th October. However, I never went through any labour pain or signs that it was about time to deliver. I therefore just stayed home expectantly waiting. On 29th of October, World Friends counselor –Mary Susan knew about my condition and immediately referred me to Ruaraka Uhai Neema Hospital. I was admitted immediately on arrival and taken in for a Caesarian Section. It was such a shock when doctors learnt that I was 15 days overdue. They called it a miracle!
It was such a joy holding my daughter who weighed 2.8kgs at birth. Mary Susan ensured that being a young mother did not stop me from sitting for my Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exams. I sat for all my papers at the private room in Ruaraka Uhai Neema Hospital maternity ward. I could not go back home due to the hard living condition especially with a new born girl. Therefore, Mary Susan found me a teen mothers’ shelter where I can raise my baby and continue with my secondary education. This is something I will always be grateful for. I can have all meals of the day and feel secure being here. The man who got me pregnant is my uncle who lives in our neighborhood. He would come visit me in the evenings when my mum was at work. It is a relief to know that I am not living close to him anymore. In future, I want to be a nurse and help many people just as I have been helped by Ruaraka Uhai Neema Hospital.”
Jane’s* story represents a meagre fraction of hardships undergone by young girls residing in informal settlements. The big question is, were it not for World Friends intervention, what could have been the end result for this minor who was 15 days overdue and without the slightest idea of the kind of danger she and her unborn were facing.