Written with insights from Rosenell Nyakinyua, CFK Africa Funzo Project Officer
“My first day back to school after giving birth was filled with excitement, hope, and also nerves – more so than all of the other years,” shared Kadzo* a young mother currently enrolled in CFK Africa’s Funzo project. “It was a challenge to get to this moment and the significance was not lost on me as I set out my clothes the night before with anticipation.”
Funzo supports teenage mothers in realizing their right to education. The project currently focuses on Kilifi County, which has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancies in Kenya. Kadzo became pregnant when she was 15 years old. “My mother was not very pleased, and society judged me,” she said.
Kadzo grew up in a single-parent household. “In addition to being a teenage mom, coming from a poor family and a single-parent household made enrolling in secondary school an uphill challenge given the school fees and caring for my child.” Her father passed away when she was young, leaving her mother as the sole provider for her family’s needs. “Life has never been the same. We now live in a rented space where my mother runs her grocery store business.”
Piloted in Kibera in 2018 and now active in Kilifi County, the Funzo project uses a four-pronged approach implementing targeted interventions for teenage mothers, their parents, the community, and key stakeholders (e.g., schools, health facilities, and the government). Participants are supported with school fees, monthly safe spaces sessions, and counseling.
The Power of Possibility
Kadzo’s family recognized the great possibilities the Funzo program presented. “In March of 2023, my mother heard of CFK Africa’s Funzo project. She did not waste any time and sought more information. Soon after, the Funzo Project Officer visited our home for a vulnerability assessment. Fortunately, I was successful in enrolling in the program.”
“I consider myself lucky as sometimes in school I see my peers being sent home for unpaid school fees and I know for a fact that I would be among them. My mother has been so supportive as she has remained with my young one as I pursue my education.”
Empowerment through Safe Spaces
All participants gather together in monthly safe space sessions to learn new skills, practice public speaking, and gain a sense of belonging, validation, and empowerment.. “I am grateful that the Funzo project provides mentorship sessions – they give us hope to keep on pushing,” said Kadzo. “I have learned about sexual and reproductive health like family planning, proper breastfeeding and its benefits, hygiene as a teenage mother, menstrual health management, HIV/AIDS, and STI prevention and causes. I now respect myself and my body as a teenage mother.”
“My friends and I in the program have a saying that ‘our parent’s hearts had been broken after we got pregnant, but we now have a golden opportunity to pick up the pieces.’ I am thankful for this opportunity. I am picking up the pieces and look forward to a brighter future for myself and my child.”
More than 400 teenage mothers have re-enrolled in school and memorandums of understanding have been established with local schools on the treatment and acceptance of teenage mothers in class. Support CFK Africa’s work to improves health, wellness and educational outcomes for teenage mothers in Kenyan informal settlements.