Twenty teen mothers in the Tandang Sora community in Philippines were given a new glimmer of hope to support themselves and their families, as well as empower other young mothers like them, through the Adolescent Mothers Community Empowerment Programme conducted by RYTHM Foundation. The programme was aimed at equipping the young mothers with basic knowledge on reproductive rights, reproductive health, and family planning, as well as acquiring basic skills on running a small livelihood venture in the comfort of their homes. The 10-session training programme was spread over a course of three months from 21 October to 30 December 2017. In the programme, the young mothers were taught to keep a close watch on themselves and other members of their community for possible cases of gender-based violence and were encouraged to get help when necessary. They were also given knowledge on pregnancy complications and how best to take care of oneself during pregnancy. During the sessions, the young mothers acknowledged that teenage pregnancy leads to lost opportunities in school and work, discrimination, abortion, and self-pity. They were also given the opportunity to ask and seek clarifications on how HIV is transmitted, debunking the common notion that the virus can live outside the human body. Additionally, the participants of the programme were taught several useful ways of earning extra income from home, such as preparing no-bake-desserts, creating handicrafts and were also given some basic financial management education. A young mother who joined the programme, Jo (not real name) said the training turned out to be a pleasant surprise, as she joined simply to learn about family planning, but gained good insights from the livelihood topics that came close to the vocational course she reluctantly had to abandon due to financial difficulties. “I can also use the peer education and reproductive rights knowledge for sharing with other teen mothers like me in the community,” she added.
Santhi Periasamy, Head of RYTHM Foundation, delivered an inspiring guest lecture at Malaysia’s INTI International College Subang, highlighting the transformative power of sustained philanthropy on communities.
RYTHM Foundation has wrapped up its first Community Adoption Programme in Sabah, marking a significant step towards empowering several indigenous Dusun communities.