“Teenage Pregnancy has robbed a lot of my friends of the opportunity to pursue their education,” 21 year-old Hanna Dorwee remarked as she looked out the window in a downpour of rain in Kakata, Margibi County. Dorwee is a senior high student at the government-run Lango Lippaye High School in Kakata.
Dorwee has seen at least six of her childhood friends denied an opportunity to continue their education as a result of being turned into teenage mothers.
“Growing up, I had some lovely and smart friends with whom I would walk to school every morning,” Dorwee recalled.
“We shared jokes and dreamed of being progressive women. Unfortunately, six of those friends are no longer in school; they got pregnant and had to trade education for early motherhood.”
“My friends are now baby mothers with no time for school as they have to look for food for their kids as well as look after them every day.
“They are missing out on education because they are now single parents, trying to find food for themselves and their kids,” she mentioned with teary eyes.
It is such a situation that the Ministry of Health in partnership with USAID, UNFPA, and WHO is trying to reverse.
They are undertaking a national campaign to promote safe practices in a bid to stem the tide of maternal and new born mortality.
Dorwee, attending the launch of the campaign in Kakata, was full of praise for the efforts. “This is something we the youth have been wanting to see for a long time. This will go a long way in helping us stay in school,” she noted.
The campaign is mainly promoting family planning and the use of condoms to avoid teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Liberia’s Maternal and New Born Health Ambassador Miatta Fahnbulleh has been on the road with a team of local musical artists to promote the safe-sex campaign.
‘Aunty Miatta’, as she is affectionately called, says “It hurts that out children are dying while giving birth. Every day, four women, mainly girls between the ages of 15 and 19 die in child birth. This is troubling.
“This is why we are here in Margibi and will be going to other communities in Liberia to talk to you, the students and young people to use condoms to avoid unwanted pregnancy and to prevent sexually transmitted diseases,” she explains.
“If we do not take this seriously we may lose our future doctors, nurses, teachers and lawyers to maternal mortality. Our future agriculturists and scientists may drop out of school because of unwanted pregnancies.
“Maternal mortality is a threat to this generation and it must be tackled head-on,” Madam Fahnbulleh stressed.
Some Liberian musicians are using their vocal skills to support the safe-sex campaign. Eric Gezo or ‘Hard Head Boy’, the Soul Fresh duo of JB and Shinning Man, as well as Marvelous and K-Zee are all part of the initiative.
“We see this as a moral and national obligation to save our society from teenage pregnancy and prevent maternal mortality and sexually transmitted infections,” the musicians emphasized.
The campaign has been to Kakata and Harbel in Margibi County and will be going out to Buchanan in Grand Bassa County and communities in Montserrado County, such as Sara Barclay in Virginia; Gabriel Kpolleh High School in New Georgia; and at the E.J. Goodridge School in Bardnersville in the coming weeks.