"I want to see cost free
methods to all
child bearing women"
My name is Mariatu Monsimah and I am 20 years of age. I now live in Kenjimbomeh Street, Moyamba town, but I grew up in village called Gbongeh situated in the Kongbora chiefdom of Moyamba district.
My struggles started back in 2006 when I sat the National Primary School Examination (NPSE). My grades were good enough to enter Secondary school, but my father, who took care of my school affairs, died and at this time my mother also was seriously sick and hospitalized. These difficulties meant that at that time there was no one who could pay my entrance into secondary school. My mother asked my elder sister, who was married and lived in the Bagruwa chiefdom, to assist me to take care of my school affairs.
These setbacks meant I missed out on one academic year, but after that my sister was able to pay my fees for a short while. When I was sixteen, a man came and promised my mother that he would pay my school fees. As my mother was not able to pay for my schooling, she accepted this man as a son in law. I did not like this man as I knew that he had several sexual partners, and he would always harass me for sex, but there was no way that I could deny having sex with this man as an agreement had been made.
In 2007 I was in JSS One (Junior Secondary School) when I fell pregnant. When the man found out that I was pregnant, he left the village and ran to Guinea. I suffered a lot while I was pregnant because there was no one there to support me. I gave birth in 2008, after which I worked selling firewood, and doing some domestic works for my good neighbors in order to get my daily bread and be able to care for my baby. I managed to also continue at school until JSS three, when I was 19. I was due to write to the basic Education Certificate Examination in 2011, when I fell pregnant again. The father was a man named Alpha Konneh, who was a social development worker who came to my community. After I became pregnant he was transferred to Kenema and never returned, and I have not heard from him since. I gave birth to my second child in June 2012 and after this I really had nothing, and it was a challenge to even get laundry soap to launder the clothes of my baby. I always feel a sense of disappointment when I see friends who I used to study with in school, who have managed to continue with their education as they have not become pregnant.
Challenges I see for women and girls in my community:
- Teenage pregnancy is one of the key challenges faced by young girls. I am a victim of this challenge where men impregnate girls and fail to shoulder the responsibility.
- Lack of parental care and support on education
Opportunities I would like to see for my children:
- Government and NGOs to create skills and training opportunities for young girls/women
What I would like the government to do:
- To create the opportunity for cost free family planning methods to all child bearing women
- Establish technical and vocational training centers for women
-Create an avenue in which women will have access to land for agricultural activities
-To work with micro- finance institution to render financial services to mothers like me
Teenage Pregnancy in Sierra Leone
The teenage pregnancy rates in Sierra Leone are high. In a government health survey it was estimated that 34% of women aged 15-19 have either already had a baby or are pregnant. Studies have shown that when girls who become pregnant at this age, their education is interrupted which often leads to reduced earning potential, poor marital outcomes and reduced health outcomes for surviving children.
Restless Development in Sierra Leone
In Sierra Leone, Restless Development works to help young people access confidential counseling and testing at community clinics and in youth information centres. Between October and December 2011, 1145 young Sierra Leoneans accessed such a service enabling them to make informed decisions about pregnancy and motherhood.