CARICOM First Ladies meet with Sophia teen mothers- encourage them to continue their education
GINA, GUYANA, Thursday, February 16, 2017
Teenaged mothers of the Sophia community were elated as First Lady Sandra Granger, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) First Ladies and other dignitaries visited the Sophia Health centre which was the first to implement the Adolescent Antenatal Support Group initiative.
Mrs. Granger was accompanied by Belizean First Lady, Kim Simplis-Barrow, Trinidad and Tobago First Lady, Reema Carmona, Haitian First Lady, Martine Moise, Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence, Director of Regional Health Services Dr. Kay Shako and Representative of Gilead Sciences Incorporated, Dr. Donna Christensen.
Mrs. Granger told the young ladies in attendance that all the CARICOM First Ladies have the common interest of empowering young mothers. “We do share a common humanity, the fact that we are here, these First Ladies are interested to know what is going on here in Sophia with you, and the progress that you are making; it should tell you how important we believe you are to the development of our country and how important you are as people.”
Mrs. Granger added that the support group, in which she has vested interest, prepares teenaged mothers to be strong and empowered individuals. She also emphasised to the mothers that they should not consider repeat pregnancies in this stage of their life, but rather focus on being educated.
Dr. Krystle Fraser of the Sophia Health Centre explained that the Ministry of Public Heath recognised the need to establish such a support group at the centre. The support group offers psychosocial and social support to teenaged mothers however, the initiative is not to support teenage pregnancy, but assist the mothers who might not be in a financial position to take care of their needs.
Expectant mothers testified to some of the benefits that are enjoyed being part of this support group. Deanna Andrews, Stacy Ann George and Natania Boucher all said that the support group has motivated them to build their self – esteem, prepare for motherhood and encourage them to further their secondary and even tertiary education.
The Ministry of Public Health’s Adolescent Health Department in partnership with the Ministry of Education launched the Adolescent Antenatal Support group in 2016. Such groups are linked to family clinics where mothers are placed on a contraceptive.
The CARICOM First Ladies, as well as the minister, spent time with some of the mothers interacting, and listened to facilitators of the support group and their experiences working with the girls thus far.
Mrs Granger pointed out that the Ministry of Public Health will roll-out more projects like these in aid of reaching more young women across the country.
The Ministry of Education’s School Health, Nutrition and HIV/AIDS department and the School’s welfare department also work along with the Ministry of Public Health on the school re-integration programme, since most of the girls are currently school drop outs as a result of their pregnancy.
By: Delicia Haynes