Over half of all sexually active adolescent girls in Kenya who want to delay pregnancy have an unmet need for modern contraception.
From Young Mother to Youth Mentor
Sylvian Musau didn’t know about family planning until she became unexpectedly pregnant at age 20. “I never knew how to face my parents because I saw that I was a failure — a disappointment.” For Sylvian, this concern went beyond her family: Adolescent pregnancy is considered shameful to her Jomvu community, one of the settlements in Mombasa county along the Kenyan coast.
Sylvian knew the judgment wouldn’t stop after giving birth. “So, you don’t know what choice to make,” she admits. “Do you abort, do you keep the child? How will you manage? How will you bring that child up?”
Over half of all sexually active adolescent girls in Kenya who want to delay pregnancy have an unmet need for modern contraception. While the national government has committed to reducing teenage pregnancy rates and released an adolescent sexual and reproductive health policy, the coastal region has been slower to make progress.
PAI grantee Kenya Muslim Youth Development Organization (KMYDO) is changing that by engaging with local government and health officials to address the lack of youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services and funding in the region. KMYDO is a national organization that inspires grassroots youth activism, strengthens community leadership and supports the growth of family planning advocacy.
During her pregnancy, Sylvian was connected with KMYDO and its community-based partner, the Pwani Youth Network (PYN). This is when PYN staff members taught her about family planning and women’s empowerment. Now as a new mother, Sylvian shares what she learned with young people in Mombasa county.
With support from PYN and KMYDO, Sylvian is teaching her peers how they can prevent pregnancy and HIV infection using contraceptives such as condoms. She also counsels young girls, connecting them to the nearest health clinic; and hosts family planning dialogues with youth groups and religious institutions in person and on social media.
By bringing her daughter Chelsea to events, Sylvian has shown her community what it means to be a young mother. She hopes that speaking openly about her experience will decrease the stigma she faced and also encourage young people to use family planning to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
Seeing her child growing gives Sylvian the “strength to go out there — speak, work and hustle.” In the future, she sees herself as an ambassador who will impact “not only the subcounty, but the whole of Kenya. Because there’s no greater feeling than helping a person who needs it.”
I never had knowledge about contraceptives. I never had a person to mentor or empower me … [Now,] I do share my story … Because there’s no greater feeling than helping a person who needs it.Sylvian Musau, youth mentor