Teenage preganancy is very common in the area, due to poor access to sex education and sexual health rights as well as local cultural issues around contraception, women and sex. AMREF is working with the local community to change this.
‘’I live with my mother and stepfather. I have an older brother who lives in Dar es Salaam and works as a builder.
When I found out I was pregnant [the first time] I didn't tell anyone at first. I didn’t tell my friends as was worried they would laugh at me. I was the only girl my age I knew who was pregnant. The boy who got me pregnant was my boyfriend, Ahmed. We had used condoms for a while but we stopped. He said he didn’t like using them. I said ‘I don’t want to get pregnant’ and he said ‘you won’t get pregnant, I’ll be careful’.
We had been together a short while, my sister introduced us. I told Ahmed I was pregnant and he didn’t believe it, he didn’t believe it was his, even though he was the only boy I had slept with. My mother went to his parents and repeated that it was Ahmed’s baby. They refused to accept this. Ahmed ran away to Dar Es Salaam.
Only when I didn’t have my period did I realise perhaps I might be pregnant. I think before that I was wishing it wasn’t true. I finally told my mother and she took me to a health centre where they confirmed it. My pregnancy wasn’t good – I got very sick and couldn’t eat well.
When it was time for the birth, I told my mother who sat with me until the pains got very bad, and she took me on the back of her bike to the health centre. This was at 4 in the morning and the journey took 2 hours.
Ahmed’s mother sometimes gives me money for soap or flour for cooking, but it is not much. Ahmed contributes nothing. I found out that he had come back to the village and got another girl pregnant. He has seen the child, when he passes by, but it is not often.
I see my friends going to school while I remain here looking after Shanista. I wanted to continue with study, learn English, I did hope to become a teacher.’’
Read more about AMREF's work with young women and girls in Mtwara through our Voice of Youth Sauti ya Vijana project, and watch our Voice of Youth film, featuring Sara and some of the local people AMREF is training to bring better sexual health and education to Mtwara.