By Nicerah Wanjiru, Kibera
Being a young mom is common in most informal settlements in the city. Some young moms, especially teens are either married, single moms, or separated. People often view young moms as a burden and a bad influence to other girls. Many young moms are lonely, and sometimes men try to take advantage of them. I wanted to tell a story of teen mothers who have children and survive, despite the many challenges they face. I speak about this situation because I want the world to know--especially mothers of teen moms, and their daughters--that getting pregnant at a young age is a big challenge. I tell this story because I am a young mother.
My name is Nicera Wanjiru, and a young mother and it’s my wish, as a young mother living in the slums of Kibera to have a good job, and a good house to raise my kid and also to afford her education. She is at risk if she grows up in this same village that robbed away my dignity and made me a mother at a tender age. The rate of young mothers in the slums in on the increase due to insecurity, lack of mentorship, ignorance, school dropouts and yet no one cares, for we are presumed to be socially immoral.
We find it difficult to cope with life, no one accommodates us, the women call us youths, and the youths say we have given birth and therefore we are women, they are very quick to judge us. Every girl will one day grow to be called a woman, we don’t dispute that. We are human beings we need to be accommodated despite the fact that we have given birth and our alleged husbands left us with our babies to care for.
Thanks to Muungano wa Wanavijiji they have shown interest to work with us the young women and the youths, they are our mentors they are our teachers they have never rubbished our ideas. Through Muungano wa Wanavijiji many young mothers are slowly coming out, even those who have very low self esteem, they can now stand and address people, some have started savings groups and some are now mentors and this is a big step towards success.
Due to lack of mentorship and knowledge, most of the young mothers are school dropouts due to lack of school fees to pursue an education, frustrations and challenges in the slums, lack of basic needs have led some to becoming young mothers.
“It’s not because we are careless, we lacked someone to tell us, to mentor us we have realized when it was too late. When we were dumped together with our kids, we ended up sharing rooms with our mothers and fathers because we have no jobs or source of income. Why should men leave behind their wives and kids, questions that I have been asking” –Atieno, a mother of two kids living in Kibera.
It’s prudent we start mentoring the boy child because this trend will continue forever, if the society is not careful. I salute the efforts of Muungano wa Wanavijiji for creating a saving culture to the young mothers, it’s a way of being safe with coins in the bank.
Training alone won’t help much; some of the young mothers have started small businesses and no doubt will have successful and empowered women.