Liz Mnengwah, Head of Programmes for our partner Glad’s House Kenya, talked to us about the struggles young mothers face living on the streets of Mombasa.
For a girl to be living on the streets of Mombasa for three years and not become pregnant is a miracle. We meet many young women on the streets, aged 17 or 18, and they tell us how they’ve been on the streets for over ten years. Many of them have one or two children. They will speak so positively about their children and about how they want them to go to school and have an education.
But where do they start from? We’ll ask them, “how are you going to start?” And, normally, the conversation ends there.
They themselves have no education. They’ve been arrested, they’ve been beaten, they’ve been raped and they’ve experienced trauma. They might have gone to different centres with their children, but experienced abuse there or found that they don’t have the right support, and ended up back to the streets.
Facing trauma, and with children to look after, these women’s lives are complicated and very difficult. They begin to feel they can no longer look after their children. So some of the mothers we meet on the streets will give their children away. They want the best for them, but cannot provide for them. It’s this that hurts and traumatises them the most. But they can’t bare seeing their children suffering or going through the same suffering they went through.
Rachel, who has four children, became homeless aged 11
Rachel fled home to escaper her violent stepfather. She ended up homeless. While living on the streets, she’s faced abuse and exploitation.
Now 24 years old, Rachel has had four children. But despite her love for them, and wanting to raise them herself, she has been forced to put them into Children’s Homes as there are no opportunities for her to be housed and supported together.
Rachel is desperate to build a life away from the streets of Mombasa where she can raise her children. She wants to become self-sufficient and be a positive role model to them.
Thankfully, thanks to support like yours, she’s now enrolled in Glad’s House Kenya’s Girls Outreach programme. Through the programme, she can access counselling to help overcome trauma. She can access healthy food, education, and work with the team to develop a long-term plan to get the support that’s right for her.
The new Centre will provide a safe space to empower girls and young women on the streets
We’re crowdfunding to get Glad’s House Kenya’s new support centre open in May. The centre will be a safe space, providing counselling, education, medical care and more to children and young people on the streets. Will you please help us raise £7,000 by the end of March?
This International Women’s Day, you can make a difference to hundreds of girls like Rachel. Your donation could ensure they get the support they need and don’t have to make the heart-breaking choice of giving their children away.
Head of Programmes at Glads House Kenya