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Tatu Raphael is 17 years old and was born in Kibondo in Kigoma region on the 6th January 2004. She lives in a family of 6 children, 2 girls and 4 boys. she lives with her mother in a two-room renting house after their father left and travelled to a nearby district of kasulu in a village called kisogwe. “I heard that got married again to the other woman and ever since 2018, I have never heard of him again”.

Her family depends mostly on her, such as providing them with food and other necessities. she has two young brothers and two twins aged 13 and 14 years who are still at primary level (class 5 and 6) and their last born will soon join the nursery classes. She also takes care of her ill mother who got paralyzed (whole left part of the body) since 2019.

She has faced different challenges in life but the most difficult ones that she could remember is when she got pregnant when she was at the age of 16. Another challenges that disturbs her the most, is taking of her sick mother, by helping her with body sanitation, taking care of her family in general and still taking care of her child at this young age.

“In the beginning of 2016, I got into a relation with a boyfriend who happens to be the father of my child. We have had unprotected sexual intercourse, but I never realized that one day I would get pregnant. When I had realized of my body changes, I confronted him and shared this news to him, but unexpectedly, he refused of being the father. Since then, I never received calls from him and I heard that he disappeared to kahama district in shinyanga region and left me without no support.” She was left all alone, and the small help she could receive was from the partners relatives who adequately came to visit her. She was chased out of the house to go and search for the responsible person of her pregnancy after her mother found out.

Therefore, she moved to a near village of Nyarihoba, to her grandmother to seek pasture.  While at her grandmother’s house, she found out that her mother was sick and that almost broke her heart, after a month when she was forced out of their home. One side of her body could not function any more. So, she decided to move back to their house to be there for her and her family as well. She was pardoned for her mistakes and mostly, she was the one who provided her with delivery kits during her delivery.

“Sincerely, I have got any help except of courage from my mother and only close friends. But I remember sometimes back, a few relatives who had sympathy, sent us some basic needs such as sugar, food and some amount of money to survive.”

she heard of an organization searching for teenage mothers from a woman her our area, who was searching for teenage mothers who got pregnant at a young age, and since she was one of them, she visited the offices of Ekama Development Foundation (EDF) in Kibondo district.

After she was enrolled at EDF, she was able to join the teenage mother’s group in January,2021. “At EDF, we were taught different issues concerning the sexual and reproductive health rights and gender-based violence of course. But the most lessons that I enjoyed, were: family planning, how to accept my child and better ways to rear a child without violence and ways to abstain from sexual activities and the knowledge o STIs and HIV”. Through the teenage mother’s club, “I have benefited the most. For instance, before I joined the club, I was not well informed of my body, especially my sexual rights, but after I joined the club, I am confident to rule my body and know where to seek refuge once violated. With this knowledge, I have been able to share it to some of my neighbors on the benefit of EDF and some promised to join too. Apart from EDF, I had never joined any club.”

Apart from that, she has started her own small business of selling vegetables at the village market on Wednesday and Saturday (market days), and the remaining goods, she sells them from at a small home shop or to customers from where she lives. From that she has been able to collect profit and save some amount of money in a safe box at home for taking care of her family and child. With the knowledge she has received from EDF, she is now capable to speak to her mother on her sexual rights and protect her young siblings by sharing a helpful knowledge to according to their understanding because some are soon to become adults. With the small business she owns, she is able to; save money for her child’s school fees and necessary items (like food, clothes, milk), pay bills for treatment of her sick mother and some provide needs to her siblings.  Although, she faces challenges from her business, such as: some of the items like tomatoes and other fresh groceries gets rotten after two or three days if there is bad weather and she has no place to store them. She considers this to be a loss because of having a small capital.

She has dreams of opening her own grocery store and sell other items too. But mostly, she works hard enough to be able to at least construct her own house for her family. She is determined wishes her dreams come true, but for now, she needs support with enough capital to start her dream business and pay the house rent for a year, that would be a miracle to her. THANK YOU.