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Aminata Kabba

“Having a child at my age was a big mistake. But with contraception, I am empowered to return to school and proceed to college to achieve my dreams.”

Aminata Kabba from Bo District in Sierra Leone was just like every other 15-year-old. With dreams of becoming a nurse she spent her days going to school and hanging out with her friends. But all that changed when she fell pregnant.

Although her boyfriend offers some support through his job as a stonemason, he lives and works several miles away so is not able to help with the day to day reality of raising their child. 

“The major work I do now is to take care of my child, and fetch water to the house. I don’t work. I am only a school dropout due to pregnancy 

“I am not happy that my friends are in school while I am at home nursing a baby. I can no longer play with them because my child is always crying for me to carry her.” 

Sadly Aminata’s fate is far from unusual. In her own close friendship group, two other girls also fell pregnant aged 15 and in 2013 Sierra Leone recorded the 7th highest teenage pregnancy rate in the world, with more than a third of girls having their first baby before the age of 18. 

Outbreak

In 2014, things went from bad to worse as Ebola ravaged the country sending teenage pregnancy rates spiraling by up to 65%. 

The country’s largest family planning organisation, Marie Stopes Sierra Leone, continued working through the outbreak. Active in all of the

country’s 14 districts and providing more than half of all contraception nationwide, it is known locally as “de mammy fo welbodi” or “the mother of health”. 

However, despite regular visits to her village heralded by announcements over a loud speaker, Aminata had never attended any of their sessions.

She explained: 

“Before I became pregnant, I had heard about Marie Stopes but I never thought family planning was for me, so I had very little knowledge about the different kinds of contraception available.”

Turning point

Soon after giving birth, Aminata’s baby fell ill. At the clinic where she was treated she met with health workers from Marie Stopes, who encouraged her to start using contraception and complete her education.  

After hearing all the options, Aminata opted for an intrauterine device (IUD), which protects her from pregnancy for over five years and she urges her friends to do the same. 

 “I was not there for family planning but I was moved by the talks they gave.

“Having a child at my age was a big mistake. But with contraception, I am empowered to return to school and proceed to college to achieve my dreams.”

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