Ewu-Ekiti, Nigeria – According to the United Nations Populations Fund, 20,000 girls under the age of 18 give birth every day in developing countries. Once pregnant the life of these young girls radically changes. Often the young girls are forced out of school, job prospects diminish and as a result they become vulnerable to poverty and exclusion from society. However, for one young girl that would not be the case.
Team members from the Sephamid Bridge Foundation (SBF) recently visited Awe Oluwatoyin a teen mother, now 19 years old living in Ewu-Ekiti. She spoke candidly with SBF about her experiences.
Over a Christmas break Toyin entered into a sexual relationship with a man. Not long after Toyin discovered she was pregnant. The pregnancy drastically changed her life and would place Toyin in positions that would lead to difficult decisions. Early on in the pregnancy Toyin toyed with the idea of aborting the pregnancy, but was warned of the health complications that could lead to death. She made the life changing decision to keep the child.
Toyin parents upon discovery of the pregnancy sent her out of their family home and wanted nothing to do with her. Having lost the support of her parents, she turned to the father of her child. He accepted responsibility, but did not take good care of Toyin, maltreating her throughout the entire pregnancy.
Toyin pregnancy was difficult. She received suboptimal care, sometimes going without food. She said, “nobody was ready to assist me as a result of the pregnancy.” Teen mothers in developing countries often face more extreme obstacles and social adversary than those in the developed countries. Toyin’s life would soon change.
On June 14, 2016, SBF stepped in to fully sponsor Awe in a two year vocational tailoring program in the Ewu-Ekiti community. Teaching Awe a beneficial trade, that will allow her to become independent and support her child.
Toyin stated, “My not going back to school has not ended my aspiration in life. SFB’s plan for me came at the right time. Everything SBF has done has increased my skills and now I am happy, I can design and make wears for people in my community to raise money and take care of my kid.”
There are too many young girls and boys who become parents before they are ready. These young people need education, they need help and they need to know they can still have a bright future.
SBF does just that, they seek to educate young people on sexual education. The Back to School (BSi) program at SBF goes a step further, it seeks out dropout teenage mothers in rural community with the mission of helping them. The teenage mothers are first counseled to help them make informed choices and to choose either to go back to school (where they are provided with formal education) or sign for vocational and entrepreneurship training (to learn tailoring, baking and hairdressing skills etc. start a business and save money). Once they have made their choice SBF covers the educational fees and training cost as the case may be.