The rate of teenage pregnancy remains unacceptably high in most developing countries. In Rwanda, studies show a rapid increase over the past two decades despite the political achievements of women’s empowerment, and efforts to curtail child sexual abuse. Recent studies found that socioeconomic status of teens’ households were significantly linked to teenage pregnancy. The increase in teenage pregnancy rates in Rwanda in recent years is worrisome. The National Institute of Statistic of Rwanda (NISR) has published the figures showing that teenage pregnancy increased from 5.7% in 2008 to 7.2% in 2015. According to NISR studies, 78,000 babies were born to teen mothers in the last four years, approximately 23,544 babies were born to teen mothers in 2020, and an increase of 3.7% in 2020 due to Covid-19.
Good News international supports the most vulnerable 54 teen mothers aged from 14 to 18 years old, and their children (108 people). From their own testimonies, we selected the important points to focus on as discussed above in the effects and risks of teenage pregnancy:
1. Health Insurance
Most of the teen mothers are rejected by their families so their families could no longer pay health insurance for the mother and the child. For that reason, in this program we plan to provide health insurance to those vulnerable teen mothers and their children for a period of 5 years.
2. Food Support
Almost all the children born from teen mothers suffer from malnutrition diseases. Not only the children, but also the mothers because of the lack of support. They eat insufficient and unhealthy foods. With this program, Good News International has the following plans:
Ø Providing healthy food for the mothers within the first 6 months after giving birth
Ø Providing healthy food for the children as they develop
Ø Providing milk to those children who cannot be breastfed by their mothers because of different reasons
Ø Working with experienced nutritionists from public health centers to train these mothers how to take care of their babies, how to prepare a healthy food for them and for the babies, and the best ways to breastfeed children
Ø Giving basic training to these mothers on how to cultivate food from their gardens, especially those who lives in rural area.
After getting pregnant, these young ladies become much traumatized. They are in a situation that is very difficult for them. Their families treat them differently. Some are abandoned and chased away from the families. Some are allowed to stay home but are asked to support themselves in everything including food. Some are given everything by their families but asked to never go out and meet other people for the reason of hiding what happened. All these frustrations make the young mothers very traumatized which has a big impact to their psychological lives and the lives of their children.
With this program, Good News International is planning the following activities to address this issue:
Ø Conducting several home visits for the reason of reuniting the family and the young mothers
Ø Bringing the mothers together for 2 days every trimester in order to share life experiences and give each other testimonies of their journey. This will help them to be open and release their hearts from that burden.
Ø Offering individual counseling sessions for those who have significant psychological challenges
Ø Working with the psychologists from public health centers to give proper guidance to these young mothers