Adolescent mothers as a group face a number of unique challenges; they are still developing themselves, while experiencing pregnancy and motherhood. They live in a world that holds different and sometimes conflicting expectations of them. They must balance the changes in their lives, often without guidance and support.
The programme was launched in April 2008, through a collaboration between the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Women Across Differences (WAD).
The one-year pilot project, entitled "Reducing Unplanned Pregnancies Among Adolescent Mothers," hoped to increase the self-confidence of participants by equipping with sexual and reproductive health information, self-development training and vocational skills building, while promoting positive lifestyle choices.
Between 2008 and 2014, we helped more than 300 adolescent and teenage mothers with many returning to school and joining the workforce.
Since 2015, the programme has been funded by Republic Bank (Guyana) Limited. Along with facilitating empowerment sessions, we provide ongoing psychosocial, legal and medical support to our young mothers and their families.
We work together with three health centres in Georgetown and the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation to identify adolescent mothers and refer them. We also visit homes in the communities served by those health centres.
Our sessions give the young mothers the chance to discuss important topics like establishing and maintaining boundaries in relationships, domestic violence, child abuse, and gender socialization.
We also train them in skills like tie -dye, cake decoration, cosmetology and floral arrangement, and give them information on maintaining standards and cost pricing.
We have supported many young mothers to return to school and, on occasion, have assisted financially with the cost of Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) exams.
While our work focuses on working with the adolescent mothers themselves, we also invite partners and parents (primarily mothers) to learn about the activities and discuss their relationships with the adolescent mothers, in order to create a supportive environment for the development of the adolescent mother.
Our young mothers are remaining on family planning, becoming successful entrepreneurs, sharing their stories and advocating for sexual reproductive health across the Caribbean.