Zawadi’s Story: Navigating Parenthood and Education

Written by Rosenell Nyakinyua, CFK Africa Funzo Project Officer 

18-year-old Zawadi* is forging a path towards greater economic opportunity, setting an example for her children. One of forty girls participating in CFK Africa’s Funzo project in Kilifi County, Zawadi is engaged in CFK Africa’s network of support and remains dedicated to her studies. 

Photo: Girls participating in CFK Africa’s Funzo Project in Kilifi County.

Raised in a single-parent household, Zawadi experienced personal and financial hardship from a young age. Though she passed her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education exams in 2022, she did not continue to secondary school with the rest of her peers due to challenges at home. She was worried that she would not have the opportunity to attend secondary school since her family could not raise the school fees or obtain the items needed to begin school. 

As she was contemplating a path to secondary school, Zawadi discovered that she was pregnant. Key events during adolescence, like early motherhood, often change the course of the life of a girl. Unlike other girls who would have given up on their dream of education considering these barriers, she was motivated to work hard to support herself and her child. 

Photo: CFK Africa’s Funzo Project Officer with participants.

She heard about CFK Africa’s Funzo project – supporting teenage mothers in continuing their education. Thanks to her determination, Zawadi successfully connected with CFK Africa and received support to enroll in school. In addition to school fee assistance, the Funzo project works to reduce stigmatization around teenage mothers in schools at the administrative and classroom level, creating a supportive environment for young mothers to thrive in their studies.  

Zawadi was thrilled to go back to school. With an expected delivery date in November 2023, she hoped that her birth and maternity leave would align with the long December school holiday, allowing her a few weeks to nurture her young one, then proceeding with her studies while nursing. However, during her last ante-natal clinic appointment, she learned that she had a multiple pregnancy. To avoid health risks, Zawadi successfully delivered triplets three months earlier than expected.  

Photo: A celebration of Funzo girls.

The Funzo project offers holistic and broad-reaching support to ensure that girls like Zawadi can reach their full potential. Providing individualized support after delivery of her three babies, the project linked her with psychosocial counseling at the Matsangoni Health Center and offered home visits by CFK Africa and peer providers to support Zawadi through the post-natal period. She was also linked to CFK Africa’s Economic and Livelihood program for economic strengthening and other services. 

With a whirlwind entry into motherhood, her three babies have been fully weaned and Zawadi rejoined school in January 2024, successfully continuing her education. Our joy will be to see her excel through school as she continues to nurture both herself and her children. 

* Zawadi (not her real name) agreed to be interviewed on her experience. To protect her privacy, her name has been changed. 

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