In 2021, Kenya saw the deaths of pregnant women increase by 300 per cent compared with 2020. Many of these pregnancies come from sexual assaults.
Bruce Allen with FMI says this mostly represents girls aged 10 to 19. “Sometimes, these young girls don’t even understand what’s happening to their bodies, in terms of menstruation. COVID-19 has played havoc with the lifestyles of Kenyans in recent years. A lot of families relied on school for their kids’ reproduction education.”
In the late 1960s, Kenya became the first sub-Saharan African country to introduce a family planning program. But Allen says, “Over the last decade and a half, the government shifted its funding from family planning to focusing on the HIV epidemic. Because Kenya was exceptionally hard hit with HIV and AIDS.”
The major cities have some health clinics, but rural areas often lack these resources. Plus, being pregnant comes with a lot of stigma for young girls, so they often do not tell their families. Abortion is not legal in Kenya, and many girls try to induce one themselves, often suffering serious injury or death.
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Allen says local churches try to pick up the slack and save lives. “They’re not getting an education from home, and they’re not getting it through the schools. Our churches want to provide it in a Christ-honoring environment. They’re saying, ‘We have to make our youth groups areas where it is safe to have these discussions.’”
“They want the kids to feel like they can open up and talk transparently, candidly, with competent church leaders.”
But these programs are expensive for rural Kenya churches. Through FMI, you can support healthcare and education in Jesus’ name.
Additionally, churches come around young girls who survive their pregnancies. Allen says, “What’s education going to look like when a 12 or 13-year-old girl now has to take care of an infant? Will the church provide tutors so the young parent can still finish their school? There’s a lot of opportunities for all types of ministry to go on.”
This story was originally appeared at Mission Network News and is republished here with permission.