Young and empowered: a story of a teenage mother in Rwanda
19 and pregnant Nyiranzavugimana Florence, despondent from her family and community’s rejection, found a source of much-needed hope and safety net through communication.
Imbuto Foundation, supported by Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), conducts regular parent-adolescent communication (PAC) forums that bring together first-time young mothers and their parents. The dialogues are centered on how to give better support to teenage mothers. Additionally, the Foundation carries out conversations to prevent gender-based violence and subsequent unintended pregnancies, and explores options for sustainable sources of income for the young mothers.
Vulnerability at a crucial time
Teenage pregnancy increases the vulnerability of adolescent girls and young women, trapping them into a cycle of poverty. Teenage mothers face financial challenges as they do not have any jobs and not equipped to handle parental responsibilities.
Most often teenage mothers have financial constraints as they are unemployed and burdened with premature responsibilities of child-rearing at an early age. This is what happened to Nyiranzavugimana. At 19, she found herself pregnant, and was immediately rejected by her parents and family.
With the Imbuto Foundation, she participated in training sessions that helped her to reconnect with her parents and get the moral support she desperately needed.
After regular attendance, Nyiranzavugimana said, “My takeaway from the training was that what happened to us should not put an end to our dreams. I reunited with my parents and continued to attend PAC regular meetings with them.”
These forums contribute to restoring teen mothers’ hope and resilience. The high quality of family communication between young mothers and their parents is a supportive resource that helps the young women get back on their feet after an unplanned pregnancy.
It is Wednesday morning, a sunny day in Karongi, and Nyiranzavugimana under a yellow umbrella that provided some shade, was busy running her mobile money service.
Every day, with her two-year old son in tow, Nyiranzavugimana heads to her usual spot and runs her small business, which has become a source of income and pride for her and her family.
“I have a a small business and earning a little money to feed my lovely boy. I am glad that with this job I am able to take care of myself, my child and even my parents,” she added.
To start up her business, Nyiranzavugimana saved money from the transportation fee from the training she attended. “I had the opportunity to participate in a four-day training by Imbuto Foundation where we were given a small allowance. I saved the money instead. Afterward my parents supported me with some additional money, and I immediately started a small business selling bananas and avocados.”
A few months later, her business grew and Nyiranzavugimana’s dreams went beyond selling bananas and avocados.
After she saved more money, she wanted to try new business opportunities and after a bit of research, she shifted to providing mobile money services, which was more profitable.
Today, Nyiranzavugimana is an agent of a telecommunication company where she provides mobile money services in Bwishyura town. She said she no longer relies on her parents or others, and she can provide for her and her child’s needs.
Nyiranzavugimana is also walking tall and more confident with each day especially with a more mature perspective and knowledge about sexual and reproductive health.
In her own words she is proud of her bodily autonomy and her informed choices when it comes to sex, “I can choose what to do and when to do it.”
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UNFPA – East and Southern Africa.