From society’s bad example to role model
A sudden surge in reported teen pregnancies has got many people worrying. What next? Well, WANJIRU MUCHOKI, who got pregnant at 16 and went ahead to pursue her dreams shares why all is not lost.
At a tender age of 16 years, Wanjiru Muroki discovered she was expectant. The man responsible was the same age as hers.
He was a youth chairman at her church, her first love whom they had just dated for a year.
“Up to date, I still fear church men. It was a promising relationship. He was the first man I slept with,” she narrates
She didn’t let her parents know immediately. She went straight to her principal’s office and told her the situation, pleading with her to give her a chance to complete her studies.
When schools closed for August holidays in 2012, it was time to head home. Her tummy was now visible and she couldn’t hide it any more.
Though disappointed, her family was supportive. Wanjiru would, however, experience stigma from church and the society who felt she was too young to bear such a burden.
“The stigma was bad. It wasn’t like I was waiting for people to applaud me, but this was too much.
Everyone starts treating you like you are a failure and you’ve hit the rock bottom of life. Some mothers even told their daughters not to befriend me.
Being a first born, the stigma affected my siblings too as they kept on hearing their sister being used as a bad example by people everywhere,” she recalls.
Delivery room to exam room
She was lucky that her son, Isaac Merlin Muroki was born on October 31, 2012, just before her final Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exams.
She left the hospital two days later to take her biology practical paper examination.
Her son was accepted in the family and the man who was responsible tried his best to visit his son whenever he got a chance to.
But they called the relationship off when he wanted to take care of his child under his roof.
Nonetheless, Wanjiru desired to pursue her dreams. “My son is now seven years old.
When I looked at him every single day, I knew I had to be strong and pursue my dreams and goals.
I’m glad that I graduated with a second class honours degree upper division in Education and I have just enrolled for my master’s degree.
Apart from pursuing my education, socially I have made strides as well,” she says.
Her bubbly, outgoing personality together with her past experience made her opt to pursue a career in education.
She opted to concentrate on CRE and history to assist young people make sober choices when it comes to matters their sexuality.
She didn’t have conversations on sex with her parents and now Wanjiru is glad that she is able to shape the future of young children.
“I was naive. I applied the little biology I had studied and thought since I was on my safe days, I would be safe from getting pregnant.
It was two days after my periods and as luck would have it, I was wrong. This was my first sexual experience.
As a result, I felt education was the place I would fit in so I would have conversations with teenagers.
The ideas and the thoughts these young boys and girls have are intriguing. The thought that I am helping shape their future in one way or another keeps me motivated,” she says.
“We have a topic that touches on sex. They open up and share things that you thought were petty or not important.
I find it easy because they know about sex— it’s us the parents and teachers who think they don’t,” she adds.
And though her son is still young, she has begun teaching him on matters sex step by step, with the first lesson being respecting women.
The teacher advises parents to encourage and not scold their daughters when they become pregnant.
“Teenagers go through a lot. When I watch teenage pregnancy cases soar, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, I weep. I am crushed completely.
Most, especially because of the responsibilities and expectations that come with teenage motherhood. One is confused— this is a child forced to raise another child.
You don’t know what will become of your future and that of your baby. They also face rejection from family and friends.
Parents, this is not the time to scold your daughter. Instead, shower them with love since their world has crumbled. Support them where necessary,” she says in conclusion.