At 22 years old, I am a single mother from Kenya to a 1-year and 3-month-old son. My life took a drastic turn in 2020 after I finished secondary school and became pregnant. But the father of my child did not accept the responsibility and I found myself seeking help and guidance. That was when I met a folk healer who suggested an abortion. The thought of going through with it was a nightmare, but I felt I had no other options at the time.
After the abortion, I quickly entered into a new relationship, only to become pregnant again. Despite the hardships and challenges, I continued with my education and am now pursuing a diploma in social work and community development. I believe that education is the key to a better future, and I refuse to let my circumstances hold me back.
To support my son and myself, I sell popcorn and I also use the profits to provide sanitary products for young mothers in my community. I also volunteer my time to educate adolescent girls and young mothers about the dangers of teenage pregnancy and the importance of sexual and reproductive health, HIV/AIDS awareness, and more. I want to be a voice for change and make a positive impact in the lives of others.
Growing up, my life was not easy. I was compelled to leave my childhood home due to the fact that my father was not my biological parent, and my mother now supports the family through her work as a hairdresser. With my sister about to start Form 1 and my brother in Form 2, the burden of supporting the family falls on me. I worry about how I will make ends meet, but I am determined to provide a better future for my son and myself.
Despite the difficulties, I am grateful for the support of my mother. She is everything to me and my siblings, and I am thankful for her unwavering love and dedication to our family. I also have hope in God, who I believe will one day provide a way for me to bring change to my home and community.
Through my education and volunteer work, I aim to empower and inspire others to reach their full potential. I want to show young mothers that giving birth does not have to be the end of their lives and that with determination and hard work, they can achieve their goals and provide a better future for themselves and their children.
I also want to raise awareness about the challenges faced by single mothers and the need for more support and resources. Too often, single mothers are stigmatised and discriminated against, and I want to use my voice to advocate for their rights and needs.
In my community, I have faced many challenges, but I have also seen the power of community dialogue and education in bringing about positive change. Through my work, I hope to bring about a more inclusive and supportive community for all, especially for young mothers and their children.
I understand that my journey will not be easy, but I am determined to persevere. I want to be an example to others and show that it is possible to overcome adversity and achieve your dreams, no matter the odds. With my son by my side, I know that I have the strength and support to make a difference in the world.
Lucy Otieno is a peer mentor in Kenya. She is involved in a number of projects supporting young mothers.
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