Speak out project’s training help teen-mothers to restore their lost dignity and hope after being pregnant. ISHIMWE tells us exciting story of her regaining lost dignity
ISHIMWE is 23 years old, got pregnant when she was in senior three. She lives with her mother only because her father died some days ago. Her mother used to provide her with all basic needs when she was still a student, but she had never talked to her about Sexual Reproductive Health.
“I had a boyfriend at 17 years-old, he had sex with me. When I told him that I was pregnant, he threatened me and abandoned me. I was so desperate and confused on how I would tell my mother about it. I decided to be quiet but refused to go back to school. Later, my mother realized that I was pregnant. She asked me the person who impregnated me and I told him the truth, but the boy had already escaped,” ISHIMWE narrated.
“Although my mother gave me all the support, she avoided talking to me. We were only two people in the house, but nobody could talk to each other. I used to cry all day and night and wondering what I could do. I gave birth and raised my baby with the support from my mother.
Later, when my baby was two years old, I went to study at vocational school where I learned how to knit, but I was remorseful of my disappointing my mother,” ISHIMWE rued.
ISHIMWE further confided how community members used to call her a prostitute and useless girl, therefore because of that stigma, she preferred to stay at home locked down.
When she went to study how to knit clothes, she felt somehow occupied but she was still sad and feeling alone. “I was so happy to be enrolled among the teen mothers supported through Speak Out project. In this project, we were trained on diverse forms of violence and the reporting channels, but I liked the psycho-social support of this project.
We were told that we still have value, we need to love ourselves and try all we can to go back to school. We were told that giving birth at an early age is not the end of our life, all we must do is struggling to rehabilitate ourselves through sharing our stories and encouraging each other by forming self-help group.
Through our self-help group we discuss on self-acceptance. We are encouraged to live within the means of our parents and avoid living in high life standards, which can lead us into getting other pregnancies,” She said.
To be able to sustain themselves and their children, teen mothers were coached on saving through voluntary saving and lending associations where they save from Frw500F - Frw1000.(about. $1) per month. From the savings, teen mothers borrow money to solve their problems without begging their parents.
“Although I reported the man who impregnated me to he police, I did it very late when he had already escaped. So, I urge fellow girls to report gender based violence cases to authorities immediately just in case, for the perpetrator to be punished.
I have also learnt that if I had gone immediately to Isange one Stop Center, they would have helped me to prevent the pregnancy, but I did not have that information about their services,” ISHIMWE revealed, adding that she has gained self-confidence spirit thanks to sharing ideas with her colleagues in the group and that now she can talk boldly in public. Assumpta, a Project Officer in Speak Out is my role model. I like her because she is confident but also associates well with others.”
Speak Out Project is implemented by ActionAid Rwanda in partnership with Faith Victory Association and Rwanda Girl Guides Association, with funding from the UK Aid.The club facilitator is a teacher who voluntarily delivers sessions on GBV and SRHR in school clubs. School clubs are made of girls and boys.