Happy Mother’s Day – Maybe.

Today is Mother’s Day! A happy day for some, but not for all mothers in Uganda. Why?  A large number of these mothers are teenagers – around my age. I am 17 years old.

Uganda has the 14th highest rate of teenage pregnancies in the world. The country records 114.85 births per year per 1000 women aged between 15 and 19 years old.[1] Internationally, the number of teen pregnancies has diminished over the last 20 years. [2] However, 25% of female teenagers in Uganda will become pregnant before the age of 19.[3]

Why is this an issue?  Teenage pregnancies have a negative impact on both the mothers and the babies.

Causes of teenage pregnancies

One of the predominant causes of teenage pregnancies is that girls get married off before the age of 19. Young girls are seen as a source of quick wealth by some. Therefore, parents arrange for them to get married young, instead of putting them through the education system.[4]

It is sadly all too common for teenagers, some as young as 13, to fall pregnant as a result of sexual abuse. In vulnerable families, the perceived value of marrying off a girl child evaporates in the equatorial air. She and her future child become two more mouths to feed with the same paltry resources. These child mothers and their young ones invariably end up homeless and penniless. Not only are they rejected by family – they are shunned by society. They are victims of abuse but are treated as the guilty party.

There is also a lack of education and knowledge regarding the reproductive cycle and a lack of access to adequate forms of contraception. This is particularly true in rural areas because they are “less educated and have limited access to sexual health services than their urban counterparts.”[5]

Teenage pregnancies are also linked to poverty. Teenagers from poor backgrounds (41%) are more likely to get pregnant than teenagers from wealthier backgrounds (17%).[6]

Consequences of teenage pregnancies

Care for teenage pregnancies

The consequences of these early pregnancies are that these young mothers are absent from school during the pregnancy. They don’t necessarily go back to school once they have given birth. They are therefore out of the education loop. Since they are out of school, they cannot get a decent education. This perpetuates the poverty circle.

Teenage pregnancies also cause health issues. Giving birth at a young age is dangerous because a girl’s body is not yet fully formed.[7]

To help with this issue, organisations such as Remnant generation, the Youth For Christ Crisis Pregnancy Care Centre and FAMMI (Feed A Million Mouth International) through the 1000 day concept in nutrition provide support where they can.

Remnant generation is a non-profit organization that works to help prevent sexual abuse, child marriage and teenage pregnancy in Uganda. They reach out to teenage mothers and encourage them to seek health support for themselves and their unborn babies.[8]

Youth for Christ Crisis Pregnancy Care Centre is called Mirembe House. It offers pregnant girls a place to sleep.[9] These teenage moms need a place to sleep as they are often kicked out from their homes and do not have a place to lay their heads.

FAMMI is a social enterprise that aims at feeding the most vulnerable in Uganda. Nutrition scientists affirm that a child’s mental development is determined in the first 1000 days of a child’s life – from conception up to the age of 2 1/2 years old. Good nutrition during this crucial period is one of the key elements for survival, growth, optimal development and lifelong health.[10] FAMMI provides a pre-cooked, high protein, corn soy blend porridge.[11]

How Can You Help?

You can go to FAMMI’s E-shop and purchase “Buy Breakfast” to feed the teenage mothers and their children. Buy Breakfast is the opportunity for you to provide high nutrition meals. Just one serving of the delicious porridge provided by FAMMI has all the nutrients  that these child-mothers  need for a day – in a single serving.  FAMMI works in collaboration with Remnant Generation and the Youth for Christ Uganda Pregnancy Crisis Centre to support the teen mothers in their care.

About The Author

Katrina Montgomery is a 17-year-old student at the London school of Journalism. She will be entering her final year of high school in September.

She has always had a vivid interest in people and loves to learn about them whatever their background may be. 

Katrina wants to share positive messages and prove that sky’s the limit when you are passionate and hard working. She started interviewing women she admires when she was 14 years old. A year later, she started her blog in order to share those stories with the world.

The blog www.fromkatrina.com does not only share women’s stories but also things that are of interest to her. She aspires to be a successful journalist and tv-presenter.

About Remnant Generation

The Remnant Generation was started in 2011 and was registered as Not for Profit, Non-Government Organization in 2015 under Non-Government Organization Act of the Laws of Uganda. The Remnant Generation has championed the actions to create safe spaces for teenage pregnant mothers among families, communities and the princess shelter. Teenage pregnant mother’s safe spaces are intended to expand their life opportunities and a key strategy for their Protection, Restoration, Empowerment and Transformation. In five years of its existence, the Remnant Generation has grown to be an organization with large profile of transforming teenage pregnancies into stories of hope and inspiration. At the same time the Remnant Generation has become a national point of contact to offer care, support, protection and transformation to teenage pregnant mothers. Currently, it is an active member of Children at Risk Action Network (CRANE) and affiliated to Association for Life of Africa (AFLA).

About Youth for Christ Pregnancy Crisis Centre

The Youth for Christ Crisis Pregnancy Care Centre in Uganda started in 1992. Mrs. Vivian Kityo, who was the Director of Youth for Christ in Uganda, started the Crisis Pregnancy Centre as she saw a great need for girls to have a place to live. In the back of the cramped Youth for Christ offices was a small structure that allowed three girls at a time to have a place to sleep. Still, weekly she turned girls with no place to go away as there simply wasn’t enough room. She talked of one day being able to build “Mirembe House” – a centre that would house up to 20 girls at once.

About Feed a Million Mouths International

Feed A Million Mouths International (FAMMI) aims to feed one million vulnerable people in Uganda within 3 years. FAMMI is incorporated as a company limited by guarantee, allowing it to operate as a Social Enterprise. FAMMI blends, packages and commercialises fortified foods for individuals and At Risk Communities in Uganda.

FAMMI is motivated by the fact that the quality of nutrition, in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, largely determines what quality of future that child will have. Inadequate nutrition during this crucial period, both for the pregnant mother and her baby, can have a permanent effect on the child’s cognitive and physical development.

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