According Save the Children, Liberia has the 3rd highest rate of teenage pregnancies in the world. More than one of six girls between the age of 15 and 19 years has born a child already every year. At the same time one of seven babies dies within the first year of life. Often the girls grew up with war- traumatized single mothers. Sexual enlightenment is not part of the teaching curriculum of schools in Liberia. Secondary schools charge fees and are so not possible for poor people. Without perspective but with the responsibility for a child many teenage mothers are utterly vulnerable and easily get dependend from men who offer them to take care of the mother and the baby. Sooner or later the teenagers get pregnant again and also left behind by their former partners. Here develops a circuit of poverty and dependency in which they are left behind multiple: by the fathers, the school system and church.
As soon as a young girl gets pregnant she is supposed to leave school. This should deter other young girls from getting pregnant. What actually happens is that young mothers in most cases are not able to go back to school because the fathers of the child abandons her as soon as the baby is born and costs incurre. The women cannot effort the school fees and/ or do not have anyone who takes care of the baby.
The team of the Tohdé Resource Centre believes strongly that this circuit can be interrupted!
The girls are supported in achieving a high school degree so they can find a job. This is the basis for the girls to be able to take care of themselves and their baby. But also for young girls who are so far not pregnant education is, what preserves them to get pregnant soon. The higher the grade of education of a woman in Liberia is, the later she gets pregnant with her first child. (Statistics of Liberia 2007)
The TRC invites teenage mothers to be part of long lasting and stabile self- supportive groups. The first two groups (one in sinkor and one in Brewersville) where established in may 2012 in cooperation with Patricia Hofmann from the University of applied science Fulda (Germany) who is also the Coordinator for Liberia of our sponsor ARAGUA.de
27 pregnant women and young mothers between 15 and 23 meet weekly in the resource Center. 35 pregnant teenagers and mothers beween 13- 23 meet weekly in the Cinema in Brewersville.
During the meetings the mothers talk about their issues. For examplehow they can manage to go back to school though they have a child. Or how they can manage to establish a small business to be able to take care for themselves and their baby. In the rural group for example we found 4 mothers who managed to finish high school with a child. Those women described their stories of sucsess and so became concrete role models for the other mothers.
The Resource Center initiates the Goups and accompanies the first meetingsduring which the groups give themselves a structure. As soon as the group has founded a long lasting cooperation and democratic leadership they are visited by Pauline and a staff member monthly. Sometimes togehther with mothers from other groups or other succsessful mothers from the professional live with the aim to connect the different groups with each other and to give the grous new impacts from while to while.