Sarafina children’s home in Kilifi County offers a safe environment for pregnant teenage girls in crisis.
Magdalene Tuva who runs the safe haven says all the girls at the centre in Kilifi South Sub County come from dysfunctional homes and many experience teen pregnancies.
She said most are referred to the care centre by the local department of children services.
During an interview Ms Tuva said many of the victims seeking shelter at the sprawling children home face stigma from the society and rejection from parents, relatives and the man responsible for the pregnancy.
She has blamed cases of sexual abuse of minors and teenage pregnancies on night music at funerals famously known as ‘Disco Matanga’.
She said teen pregnancy is a major problem among adolescents in the region and blamed the phenomenon on night discos and funeral disco matangas.
The philanthropist said teenage pregnancies in Kilifi are rampant and becoming a pandemic and called for concerted effort to confront the societal ills contributing to the phenomena.
Ms Tuva criticised the existence of ‘Disco Matanga’ in the community terming it as the main contributor of early pregnancies and marriages in the region.
She said that Disco matangas had brought more harm than benefit to residents in Kilifi South in particular and the larger Kilifi County in general and wanted the night vigil festivities stopped to curb increasing cases of early pregnancy and dropping out of school.
She said the discos have become avenues of all kind of social evils and are to blame for the rising cases of immorality and sexual abuse among the youth and urged parents to take their responsibilities seriously.
Ms. Tuva said an environment where families view sex as a taboo subject and the society’s conservative cultural reputation parents are often in denial about their children being sexually active.
“Teenage pregnancy is the biggest obstacle to the access of education by the girl child in this county due to widespread poverty,” said Tuva, calling for stiffer punishment against the perpetrators.
She said the ability to talk about their hardships and receive professional counseling in a caring environment makes a big difference in the lives of the young girls who seek refuge.
Among the girls at the centre is an 18 year old girl who sought shelter at the safe haven when she fell pregnant at the age of 15.
She had to deliver at the centre and was allowed to go back to school after undergoing professional counseling offered by resident social workers and others brought in from outside.
Another girl who came in distress is a 16 year old who had endured sexual molestation allegedly perpetuated by her biological father who threatened her of dire consequences and punishment if she ever revealed to anyone about the issue.
She said she had been sexually molested and defiled by her father several times at knife-point before she was rescued and brought to the shelter where she has now resumed school.
The sexual molestation and defilement case between father and daughter is now before the local courts.
Quinter Masakwe who works at the safe shelter said the teenage girls face discrimination and are brought in while traumatised and withdrawn.
She said the sexual and gender-based survivors undergo intensive counseling before they are allowed to continue with their education and reclaim their future.
A Good Samaritan Lydia Wambui is calling on well-wishers to assist the children’s home so that it continues to offer help to girls in distress in a region plagued by teenage pregnancies and early marriages.
[A Good Samaritan Lydia Wambui donating food and other humanitarian reliefs to Sarafina children’s home in Kilifi (Centre) with Sarafina Children’s home proprietor Magdalen Tuva. Photo/Ahmed Omar/April, 04/2022].
The rescue center operator Magdalene Tuva says she is now operating on a shoestring budget and only depending on donations from well-wishers to cater for the young girl’s needs. She is now appealing for donations of food, clothing and in monetary terms which can be channeled through her number 0700931907.