According to the most recent Demographic Health Survey (DHS), in Rwanda 5% of girls aged 15-19 have begun childbearing: 4% of them have given birth and 1% are pregnant with their first child. The percentage increases significantly with age: from less than 1% of those aged 15 to 15% of those aged 19.
Teen mothers are a very vulnerable group in Rwanda: they are strongly stigmatized in their communities and they are often rejected by their families. They drop out of school and they are likely to experience mental health issues due to isolation and discrimination. Most of the time, their children’s fathers run away and do not take any responsibility in raising the child. Teen mothers have to quickly learn how to become a parent, with no support and while they are still children themselves. All their previous long-term aspirations and dreams they used to have about their future are shattered. They get trapped in having to satisfy the basic needs of their children on a daily basis.
RWAMREC has been supporting teen mothers in Huye since 2019, with funding from USAID first (through the Twiceceka program), and currently with the support of the International Organisation of Francophonie (OIF).
Since 2019, a group of 60 teen and single young mothers has received different training sessions, including gender, sexual reproductive health and rights and- more recently, financial literacy, economic empowerment and entrepreneurship. The girls have created saving groups and some of them have started income generating activities. They have regained self-confidence and the hope for the future that they had previously lost. They can now think big again, for themselves and their children!