SALEIYAN: Why I launched a day care centre for teen mothers 

 

On March 6, A Pack A Month, a Community Based Organisation (CBO) that has been providing sanitary pads to needy adolescent girls in Kajiado, launched a unique day care centre. 

Under its founder Ms. Jackline Saleiyan, also known as Jackie Wa Pads, the CBO launched Adolescent Mothers Babies Daycare and Adolescent Mothers Empowerment Centre in Ngong town, Kajiado county. 

The centre is aimed providing care for babies whose mothers are teens. The goal is to ensure the teen mothers, each morning, they bring their children to the day care, and then proceed to school. The centre was launched two days to the International Women’s Day. 

Adolescent Mothers Day Care

Africa Solutions Media Hub had a chance to interview Ms. Seleiyan on what inspired this unique day care. 

Briefly tell us about yourself?

I am a Kenyan youth leader, mother and activist for menstrual hygiene, rights of children, adolescent girls and young women and peace.

Today you have launched a unique day care, a centre for adolescent mothers.  Why this shelter? 

The A Pack A Month Adolescent Mothers Babies Daycare and Adolescent Mothers Empowerment Centre is a shelter that will house the babies as their young mothers go out to better their lives for example going to school. Most of these young mothers are victims of sexual gender based violence. Most of them are victims of defilement with some having been subjected to child marriage. Over time, I have seen many of them struggling with babies during the day because they want to go back to school but they have nowhere to leave these babies. This inspired me to establish this centre. 

Explain more on this issue you are raising of teen mothers and their education 

I have seen teen mothers struggling during the day on where to take their babies. 

Unavailability of child care makes returning to and focusing on education a challenge for these teen mothers. A lack of resources for covering the costs related to commercial child care or unavailability of family members to provide child care are both issues that result in dropping out of school.

Re-integration of teenage mothers into Kenyan schools has been a contentious issue in the past few years, even with the implementation of the current Constitution. Was this a factor to you starting this initiative?

I started this initiative because I was concerned that there were many reported cases of teenage pregnancy but no report of teenage mothers who have successfully returned to school. In December 2022 Kajiado North reported 1500 cases of teenage pregnancy, as at now only 168 i.e. 11.2% have gone back to school.  So the question was why aren’t the 88.8% back to school yet? This is despite there being the re-entry of teenage mothers into school policies of 1994 and 2022

 

Where do these girls mostly come from? 

SGBV survivors who are adolescent mothers from the informal settlement of Enchoro-emuny, Ngong as a whole aged 10 – 22 who have the desire and opportunity to go back to school but cannot due to the expensive nature of daycares versus harsh economic times.

Do you reach the GBV survivors in order to enroll them in your programmes?

The approach we use is to reach out to them but also some do reach out to us through the various stakeholders hosted in Kajiado County. A referral path is also used for the survivors. 

What specific activities will be happening in this shelter?

There shall be baby care of the adolescent mother baby; training on positive parenting and life skills like computer training, basic first aid, cooking, soap making, mat making, beading; peer to peer mentor-ship; capacity building; library and homework space; temporary transit SGBV rescue; counselling; feeding programme and sanitary towels distribution.

There are also entertainment sessions where the girls get to watch life changing inspirational movies, and play board games. 

Please share a typical day in the shelter? 

The caregiver opens the daycare at 6.00 am as she prepares to receive the babies from their mothers. As at 6.15 am the mothers already have started streaming in to drop the babies and the other caregiver is already preparing some porridge for breakfast. 

 

When the mothers leave, the children are assessed for diaper change, feeding or bathing on a need to need basis. The babies are taken through play and light learning sessions where they are taught numbers, simple prayers, alphabets and basic life skills like handwashing and potty training. For the infants, all is done for them. At 10.00 am they have a snack and at 1.00 pm they have lunch followed by an afternoon nap. At 4.00pm they have another snack and preparation for pick up begins. Depending on the distance of the school to the centre, the mothers pick the babies one by one. Some will do homework at the centre since their homes may have single rooms with multiple people sharing the home. The centre closes at 6.30 pm after cleaning in readiness for another day. 

Adolescent Mothers Empowerment Centre

Adolescent Mothers Empowerment Centre

Do you open during the weekends? 

Yes we do but on Saturday from 2.00 pm. The mothers come in and help in general cleaning and do 2 hours of mentorship on various topics including self-awareness and respect; positive parenting, first aid skills etc.  

What is the process of admitting girls in this shelter?

Admission is on a need to need basis, some girls are referred by the Kajiado Teenage Pregnancy Intervention committee where we sit, some come as referral from the are Chiefs office or Nyumba Kumi and some just walk in here on their own. 

In each of the above, a file is opened and details of the girls and that of the baby are recorded.  We also do home situation analysis and medical analysis of both mother and child. Referral paths are followed to ascertain how genuine the case is and how needy the young mother could be. A report is prepared on the same. The report determines acceptability or rejection of the case at hand. So far no one has been rejected. 

How are you partnering with other stakeholders in this journey?

We work as a team through the Kajiado North Teenage Pregnancy Intervention committee which houses National Government Administration officers, Kenya Police Service, Ministry of Health Ministry of Education; Directorate of Children services; Ngong Business community and numerous Civil Society Organizations within the Kajiado North Sub- county and the county as a whole. 

Many GBV survivors struggle with re-integrating back to their families. How do you ensure a smooth transition to their families? 

Apart from helping them secure justice through the relevant authorities, we have partnered with several organization that help in counselling and conflict resolution aiding in reconciliation. We also actively create awareness on rights of children, adolescent girls and young women so that the families and society as a whole understands why action is taken against an abuser and why it is important to support the girl. 

Jackline Saleiyan

Jackline Saleiyan

This year’s International Women’s Day theme centres around Investing in Women. How is A Pack A Month driving this agenda?

We are ensuring the adolescent mothers do not miss an opportunity to continue with their education by availing quality child care. In Kenya’s informal settlements, teen mothers are less likely to finish high school or university, less likely to be employed, and more likely to face food insecurity compared with women who become mothers after adolescence. Research has shown that when teen mothers are able to finish their education, it can cushion them and their children against negative long-term outcomes. And this is our endeavour. 

What are your final thoughts?

I am grateful to God and all our supporters who have worked together with A PACK A MONTH for the best interest of these two generations of children. It is not something that one can take up alone. However, it is a journey where we cannot walk alone. We are calling on corporates, CSOs, individuals, religious institutions to walk with us and help in food, beddings, furniture, toys, formula milk, lighting, water reservoirs, interior design, human resource and baby clothes donations to keep the centre running. 

We are ready to form partnerships and have successfully implemented projects with Media Focus on Africa, Kenya Alliance for the Advancement of Children Rights: She Leads Program; The Priceless Project and County and National Government hence strong credibility.

Jackline Saleiyan is a YALI Cohort 52 alumni who seats at the Kenya Alliance for the Advancement of Children Rights board. She is  a Global Peace Foundation The President’s Fellowship fellow; NCIC-UNDP peace champion and seat in the Kajiado North Sub-county Teenage Pregnancy Intervention committee

 

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