Thursday, October 29, 2020

An Inspiring Story of a Binti Shuja

By Duke Momanyi,
Communications Associate
Gold Star Kenya 

At only 14 years Belinda had started dating her boyfriend who at the time was a boda boda rider. “He approached me and told me he loved me and he could do anything for and I believed him. I was so naïve then.” In no time both were actively engaging in unsafe sex. What never downed on her was that she could get pregnant until she missed her periods.

She started experiencing fatigue, aches and pains coupled with nausea. Initially she thought she was sick but after visiting dispensary and test run, it was confirmed she was indeed pregnant.

Use of contraceptives and family planning at the time was all news to her. Even if she had knowledge of it, it is perceived by many as a reserve only for people who are married.

She confronted her then boyfriend and informed him of her predicament but he never wanted to listen to any of her story. He vanished into thin air.

Belinda was forced to drop out of school where she was attending in Baringo County to nurse her pregnancy. Dreams of her ever-finishing school were shuttered because soon she could be a mother and it could be an uphill task to juggle between school and parenthood.

Her parents were so upset with her and at some point, she contemplated suicide. “Everyone rejected me at home, no one wanted to talk to me. I was so depressed. I even wanted to take away my life to end my misery, she reminisces.

One of the afya Uzazi program peer mentors met her. She played a key role in counselling her and eventually linked her to a health facility where she could get the needed maternal and child health services.

She gave birth and was able to return to school and continue with her education where she sat for her KCSE examination in 2018.

Belinda was enrolled to a Binti Shujaa Model that seeks to reduce early marriages, teen pregnancies and school drop outs in Baringo and Nakuru counties.

Today Belinda is 19, and since joining the Binti Shujaa model she has remained vocal in promoting sexual reproductive health and rights among the teenager in her area. She together with others has managed to rally adolescent girls to seek essential services needed for pregnant and post-partum adolescent girls.

Many girls especially from marginalized communities are susceptible to early pregnancies, marriages, sexual exploitation and gender-based violence.

These cases are often attributed to lack of access to information about sexual and reproductive health and rights. High levels of poverty only worsen the situation as many adolescent girls do not afford their essential hygiene needs.

Through support from USAID, Goldstar Kenya has been working with County governments of Nakuru and Baringo to reduce teen pregnancy and keep the children in school. They are engaging the communities to increase uptake of antenatal care (ANC), skilled birth attendance (SBA), postnatal care (PNC) and post-partum family planning (PPFP) services among adolescent girls living in Baringo and Nakuru Counties.

They are also supporting raising public awareness regarding sexual and procreative health, peer education gender equality and girls’ rights.

Belinda and other peer mentors have received training about their reproductive health and rights through USAID supported Afya uzazi program. They are now instrumental in their community as they teach others.