As a child growing up in Kiambu, life held promise for Njeri, not her real me, was doing well at school and on completing her primary level, gained a pass for secondary school. But her education ended when she discovered her parents could not afford the fees. She was devastated. “I wanted to continue with school but couldn’t, so I stayed at home for a whole year,” she says. “I felt bad about this but I had no choice.” In return for her keep, she helped with the housework, but she felt her stepmother was abusive towards her and this prompted her to make alternative plans. “I could not even get food. After a year, I met a man and we ended in a relationship,” Njeri says. “I didn’t like staying at home and not going to school, so the relationship was the next best thing. This man was my ‘rescue’.” Although the relationship wasn’t considered as no girl was expected to be in a relationship at such an early age, especially with an older man. She dropped out of school and received a negative response whenever she raised her plights of access to family planning services and related sexual reproductive health information. “So we never used any form of protection,” she says. “One month after the relationship, I was pregnant. When I told him, he said it couldn’t be his and he left me without saying goodbye.”
His reaction devastated her, but worse was to come. Having a child to support without an income proved difficult for Njeri. “I’m seeing my life going down because my child is another burden,” she says. With this determination in mind, she joined the ‘Small sisters in Kiambu, which offers sexual reproductive health information, guidance, and psychosocial support. She now envisions a brighter future for herself.
“The main thing I’ve got since I joined is confidence. I used to look at the floor when people talked to me. Through the exercises, I have been able to mix with anyone and network.” Armed with this confidence and her newly gained knowledge of sexual and reproductive health, Njeri now reaches out to other youngsters who find themselves in her position. “I have been helping to educate other girls. I teach them about family planning, how to use condoms, and about other methods of contraception,” she says. She also encourages them to visit the health centers to access services. With the support of the big sisters, Njeri can see a new beginning for herself. “I’m happy to be in this project. My dream is to have skills in something and be able to depend on myself. Now, I feel like my dreams will be met,” she says.