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The life of a teen mother

 
A 13-year-old mother in Tanzania shares her life with the world on Pinterest.
By Robyn Addinall
Article originally in Parent24
Finding out that your 13-year-old daughter is pregnant can be devastating for a family. In a country like Tanzania, where there is very little access to sex education or contraceptives, teenage mothers are a normal occurrence. It's not always promiscuous or 'naughty' behaviour that gets these young girls pregnant. According to AMREF, cultural practices in Mtwara, such as initiations which children must take part in, encourage young girls to have sex for money. The shocking truth is that while 60% of young people have had sex before the age of 18, contraceptive use is only 6%.

Making a change

A brave young woman by the name of Sihiba Yusufu is working with AMREF to make people aware of the situation that she, and so many like her, are in. By using a camera phone that has been provided for her by AMREF, Sihiba takes photos of her life in her village and posts them to Pinterest where she hopes to "help other girls keep their childhood".

Sihiba posts photos of her child, her chores such as fetching firewood and even of the new top she's wearing that day. She posts the photos as and when she can and captions them in her native language of Swihili. The AMREF team then translates her captions into English.

An inspiration

I'm inspired by Sihiba. Yes, she fell pregnant after sleeping with an older man for money. No, it's not ideal and her situation isn't perfect. But she knows that she can make a difference to the many other young women are going through what she is by sharing her story. Sihiba had this to say on being a teenager mother: "Being a mother at this age is tough – I can’t take care of myself and my baby, even getting basic things like clothes and food is difficult. People think I’m an adult just because I’ve had a baby. It’s a miserable life. I think it’s important that young people get information, to help them avoid what happened to me."

She's intelligent, she's brave and despite her circumstances she almost always has a smile on her face.

If you want to help, take a look at Sihiba's Pinterest and visit the AMREF website.

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