I am a woman, I am a mother.
The tenacious Laura Musavi.
By Wendy Otieno, Linking and Learning Amplifier Officer – Kenya
Carolina for Kibera (CFK) exists to empower the community to take lead in finding solutions to their challenges and alleviate poverty. Through the Girls Empowerment Programme, the organisation developed a project known as Funzo, whose focus is to help teenage mothers realise their right to education by encouraging them to re-enrol in school or remain in school even through pregnancy, creating a supportive community culture, and mitigating stigma and discrimination related to teenage pregnancy, which is often the cause of school dropout and other challenges facing teenage mothers. The project has so far awarded 410 young mothers with scholarships to re-enrol in school. Of this number 321 have completed their education with 11 girls getting employment. Below is the story of a young woman who has begun a journey written by her own fate.
I joined CFK in 2018, by then I had dropped out of school and was nursing a seven (7) months old baby. I was in my third year of high school and honestly, I had no hope of completing my studies which was my biggest determination. I was not in a position to afford the basic things for my child such as food, clothing and even diapers. It was a tough phase. All I did was cry myself out; I had given up in life and saw myself at a disadvantage to my community, parents and friends. When CFK recruited me through the Funzo project for teenage mothers, I grasped the opportunity to secure my future. I attended the safe spaces sessions with other teenage mothers, which was led by our mentors who trained us on different capacity strengthening building blocks including counselling, the importance of education, contraceptives, child care, hygiene, and ways of avoiding stress and how to cope with the reality.
Throughout the training sessions, I used to go with my daughter and they were very accommodating, whenever there was a donation, I was lucky enough to receive it. So far, I have received foodstuff, a monthly sanitary towel hygiene pack, and free medical care for my daughter and I. CFK has been my second family. After 3 months in the programme, we were asked to choose what we wanted to do in terms of education, the options were going back to formal school or vocational training institutions which was a very good idea, I opted for the latter and went to St. Charles Lwanga training centre and enrolled for food processing technology, a one year course.
Luckily, I received an attachment placement at a Morning side restaurant for 3 months. Through my hard work and skills, I transitioned into a full-time employee. I am now fully committed to my work and earning a decent living. I am now a person of substance in my family and community. My dream is to own a hotel, provide employment opportunities for the youth within my community who have no means of earning a living and change their lives the way CFK impacted mine.