by Janet W.
|Janet was part of Ndoto’s first class of students in 2010|
Many girls, even some of my friends, got married at an early age. This was probably going to be my destiny, too. I was born in the Obunga slums and was raised by my grandmother because my mother was unable to care for me. I was blessed to be able to go to school, but when I was 16 years old and in my first year of high school I became pregnant, and all my dreams shattered. As a pregnant teenager it was assumed that this would the end of school. I did not have any choice but to become a young mother. I gave birth to a baby boy and reality set in.
Four months after delivery I decided to go back to school. My grandmother was very supportive and found a nanny to take care of my son. However, she was a very old woman and I had to prepare everything for her due to her age. In the evening I would pick him up and wash his clothes. This was my life, and it was not easy.
After a few weeks I looked for Allison, whom my grandmother had known from church, and pleaded with her for sponsorship. She listened to my story and gave me a chance as part of the first class of students at Ndoto. That was the moment – in my sophomore year – that I first saw light in my life.
|Janet graduated from college in 2015|
I must say that Ndoto played a major role in my life financially, spiritually, and psychologically. This was my motivation to work hard, and I passed my final high school exams. I wanted to be a doctor but my grades did not allow me to go to a major university, so I decided to be a nurse. Ndoto covered the college fees and books that I could never afford.
After 4 years in Kenya Medical Training College, I graduated as a nurse. I slowly progressed from volunteering, to one job, to another, as opportunities came along. Currently I am working for a nonprofit organization that is taking care of HIV infected people. I work specifically to help women not transmit HIV to their unborn and nursing babies. I also work with HIV positive teenagers to help them have a healthy life.
Last year I applied for a scholarship from the Swedish government to study Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights at Lund University and I was among the 30 chosen applicants out of over 5000 from Africa and Asia. I studied the challenge of teenage pregnancy in Sweden for a month and then traveled to Cambodia where I passed the exams. I’m still working on the project to see teenage pregnancy reduced where I work.
|Janet (center) leaving for Sweden. Her grandmother is to her right, and (L-R) Michael, Tobias, and Fred from the Ndoto staff saw her off.|
Currently I am also a student at the University of Nairobi studying Sociology and Psychology. I believe this will help me understand the people I work with. So, I’m working in the day and studying in the evenings and weekends. It is not an easy journey since jobs in Kenya are not well paying, but I hope for a better future after my further studies.
|Janet is a nurse and lifelong learner today|
I have a heart for the Obunga slums where I grew up, so I spend some free time talking to teenagers about how to overcome the challenges in the slum. I encourage those who are teenage mothers to press on by going back to school to have a better future.
If I made it, they can also make it.
“I’m strong because I’m fearless. I’m fearless because I’m confident. I’m confident because I am capable of doing what is required of me and what inspires me. My knowledge, my talents, my strengths are all practiced, and practice makes me better. Better at being myself, better at being kind to all, and better at helping others become strong.”- Erica & Jonathan Catherman