In the heart of Siaya County is 19-year-old Jennifer Odhiambo, a single mother of one child trying to chase her dreams. Jennifer is a Form Four student at Ramunde Mixed Secondary School, East Ugenya Ward. She recently went back to school after taking a one-and-a-half-year break to give birth and raise her now 2-year-old daughter. She had no knowledge on family planning methods or where to get such services around her, otherwise, she believes that she would not have fallen pregnant that early.
It was when she was recruited to attend the Faya project Life Skills Education sessions this year that she gained in-depth knowledge on contraceptives and how they work. Her peer educator, Fridah Oluoch, took her and her mates through the topic on Teenage Pregnancy from the project’s ‘Together into the Future’ toolkit, where they uncovered the causes, risks and the prevention methods.
Her first reaction about contraceptives was positive having gone through challenges of single motherhood such as stigma from her family and the community, and lack of finances. ‘From the moment I realised I was pregnant to now, my life has never been the same. Things have been tough. It took a while before my parents could accept me and my child. Up to now, I still do not know where my child’s father is’, she said.
Jennifer decided to use family planning without delay when she learnt about the different methods. ‘Of all the methods we were taught about, I chose the Implant. I knew that it would prevent me from getting another child for at least five years. By this time, I will be closer to achieving my dream of becoming a doctor’. She acknowledges the moral support she received from Fridah, right from the time she approached her after the class to the time she was referred to Urenga Health Centre for the service. ‘The nurse who assisted me at the facility was very friendly. She even told me that incase my body reacts to the Implant like is the case with some women sometimes, I should not hesitate to go back for it to be removed. She also reminded me that the Implant will not protect me from Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) such as HIV, so I still need to take care of myself’, she added.
So far, Jennifer has not had any side effects resulting from the Implant and is sure that she made the right choice. ‘I had my own fears about my method of choice but so far my body has not reacted. In fact, I can barely feel the Implant in my arm’. Her message to fellow adolescents is that unwanted pregnancies will interfere with their path to success and therefore they should do everything in their power to remain focused. ‘I would like to urge my peers not to engage in early sex because apart from interfering with your education, you expose yourself to STIs and unwanted pregnancies. If you must, please use a condom or take up a long-term family planning method’, she concludes.
The Faya project is a two-year Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) investment targeting 15-19-year olds in Siaya, Homa Bay, Kilifi and Mombasa Counties in Kenya. The project seeks to increase access to quality adolescent sexual reproductive health education to grow demand for health choices and services. It applies an integrated approach that combines sexuality education delivery that is youth-approved through different channels (Edu-sports, Print-Comic, Religious and Digital) to get the most reach and assess which combination leads to higher impact.