By Michael Oliech Okunson (@MikeOkunson)
Eighteen year old Evelyn Atieno and seventeen year old Jacinta Auma from Seme are not just your ordinary sisters. They have a unique story.
Apart from sharing a bloodline, they share something much bigger in common.
They got pregnant on the same day!!
In 2013, Evelyn and Jacinta were just normal teenage girls on their last year of primary school looking forward to graduating to secondary school.
Their dream did come true. They got admission into Form One.
The fairy tale ends here.
Secondary school suddenly seemed like a whole new world. There were certain things that the big girls did that seemed cooler and mature. Girls had boyfriends. Having a boyfriend seemed like the best thing that could ever happen to a young girl.
Evelyne and Jacinta would soon get into this elite group.
They would, as expected of them, engage in unprotected sexual activities.
They had no information on sexuality and on just what healthy relationship entails.
They had no idea of the magic called contraceptives either. Nor of course what they were for.
Pregnancy was not something that ever crossed mind. It would cross their paths soon.
Shockingly, as true sisters that they were, they got pregnant on the same day.
They would only realize a month later. That would be the end of life as they knew it.
They had to drop out of school. They couldn’t just handle the ridicule and the shame.
But the biggest hurdle was how their harsh and proud charcoal selling father would take the news. It seemed just better to die than wait for him to take a panga and cut them into pieces.
They would escape his wrath, thanks to their mum who stood by them and calmed the old man down.
The pregnancy hasn’t been without challenges. Jacinta particularly has had a rough time. Five months into her pregnancy, Jacinta had to prematurely deliver. Apparently her anatomy wasn’t ready physically to withstand the demands of pregnancy.
She had to undergo emergency caesarian section.
Her baby would not survive. It died almost immediately. It was one of the most devastating moments of her life.
But that wasn’t the end of her pain.
She developed chronic headache and now has to take painkillers regularly.
The local health care workers assure her the headaches will disappear after some time.
Her sister is now eighth months pregnant and is likely to conceive next month.
But teenage pregnancy in Seme is not just restricted to Mzee Ojwang’s homestead.
Twenty of their friends have gotten pregnant and dropped out of school.
The sisters believe that sexuality education would go a long way in reversing this alarming trend.
Their story doesn’t end here though.
They are determined to rise up after their fall and rejoin high school next year.
Thy want to grow up and realize their dream job of becoming teachers in the community.
Their mother is really a strong woman and has been their pillar for support for them. She has sacrificed a lot and assures me her daughters will go back to school and inspire other teenagers who have dropped out of school due to early pregnancy.
We continue to call upon government to Implement and fully fund, quality, evidence-based comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) programs that provide accurate information on human sexuality, gender equality, human rights, relationships, and sexual and reproductive health for both in- and out-of-school youth that is relevant to each specific age group. Wherever possible, make in-school CSE programs intra-curricular and examinable.
(Position Paper on Inclusion of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in the POST 2015 Agenda)
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