Vocational training giving young mother second chance to study

Young mothers are benefiting from the Kenya Youth and Empowerment Opportunities Programme.

Esther Awuor (not her real name), a mother to a two-year-old boy studies fashion and design at the vocational training Institute.

We find her breastfeeding in the middle of an ongoing fashion lesson, alongside her colleague Winfred Ogale (not her real name).

Awuor became a total orphan at the age of six. Her mother died when she was four and two years later her dad followed.

She was then taken in by her aged grandmother who could only afford to provide basic needs. Sponsors had to chip in to help settle her school fees.

Later, she qualified for the Constituency Development Funds bursary that allowed her to finish her primary school.

However, when her elder sister turned 18, the funds were withdrawn.

The situation improved when her grandmother started receiving the elderly stipend.

“ The administration was very understanding about my situation, at times when I failed to get the money, I would still go to school,” Awuor said.

However after sitting her national exam at Form 4, Awuor scored a D+ but could not proceed with her studies.

“Before joining Form 4 I became pregnant. My family advised me to keep the baby and proceed with my studies,” she said.

The pregnancy stalled her dream to become a TV news anchor.

“At this point, I knew a lot had to change in my life. I had someone else, my son, who was looking up to me,” Awuor said.

She also could not pick up her KCSE exam certificate due to a fee balance that had accumulated.

“If I had scored a C+ then the Sh37,000 would have been settled by the school but I had underperformed,” she said.

The lack of a KCSE exam certificate made it difficult for Awuor to be enrolled in a university or college.

However, she applied for the Kenya Youth and Empowerment Opportunities Programme, which she secured. She is set to complete her course next month.

Awuor says she accepts her mistake and wishes it would have never happened.

But refuses to keep beating herself about it. She takes the situation as an opportunity to learn and forge ahead.

Being born into a girls- only family and losing her father at a young age, Awuor did not have any masculine figure to look up to. She only recalls being told she looks like her father.

“I have never seen my father but every time I see my son, I see a dad and a brother that I never had,” she said.

Ogale, a mother of a two-year-old was attending to her son whose temperature was high.

She leaves her son in the school daycare when attending classes but checks on him every break time and lunch hour.

The mother has no fears of living the child behind because she says she’s assured the baby is in safe hands.

She says her son changed the meaning of life.

“I became mature, I started seeing things differently and my mind opened up to a lot of things,” she said.

Ogale conceived just after completing secondary school, but financial constraints could not allow her to proceed for higher education.

“I had to pave way for my young brother and sister because we are not well-off,” she said.

Ogale’s mum asked her to cooperate with the father of his son since she could not sustain both of them.

Her mother is a maize vendor back at home in Nyakach.

She then decided to look for a vocational training institute and enrolled for a fashion and design course.

Ogale’s might not have achieved her dream of becoming a teacher but her new interest in fashion and design will soon start paying.

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