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“I was groomed at 15”: Uwera Sylvie on how she became a child raising another child

Uwera Sylvie was just in senior 2 when she got pregnant and dropped out of school after being groomed and tricked by a man older than her. She was left to become a child raising another child.

In 2020, Uwera Sylvie was just 16 years old when she met a man at a bar near her home who was significantly older than her and groomed her to believe he loved her and wished to consummate their love.

Uwera had recently dropped out of school and was engaged in questionable behavior with her friends such as drinking alcohol and going out till late with nobody knowing their whereabouts.

Uwera Sylvie, now 18 years old regrets dropping out of school

When she met this man, he immediately preyed on her as he could see she would be easily manipulated. He would talk with her for hours on the phone. Her parents knew nothing about that.

“He gave me his phone number and asked me to call him to talk,” she shares. “I called him and we talked for a long time. He later confessed his feelings for me.”

Their relationship took a turn one fateful night when the older man asked her to visit him. He took advantage of the naive girl to get his way.

“He bought me alcohol, then he smoked weed, he also gave me weed and asked me to sleep with him. I was already drunk and I let him do what he wanted” Uwera said, “That’s how it started. He’d come home from work in the evening and call me to go see him and I would go there because I told myself I had nothing left to save.”

Their relationship continued in that sort and Sylvie later found out that she was pregnant. “When I went to see him and I told him I did not have my period for two months, he told me, ‘I think I might have gotten you pregnant.’”

Uwera has a one year old son whom she spends all her time with

The man bought a pregnancy test and the unfolding of this revelation was as swift as it was shocking, culminating in a denial by the child’s father who fled in the face of accountability.

The young girl found herself with the reality of teenage motherhood. “I wondered how a child would raise another child. Children my age did not have children. It seemed unbelievable to me.”

Despite considerable progress in recent years, teen pregnancy remains an African concern, including in Rwanda.

According to the Rwanda Demographic Health Survey, released in 2020, the number of underage pregnancies were 17,337 in 2017, 19,832 in 2018, 23,544 in 2019, 19,701 in 2020. Another report showed that there were 23,000 teenage girls who got pregnant in 2021.

Uwera, who has not returned to school since 2020, wants to pursue her studies again which she finds difficult since she has to be with her son to raise him.

Drawing from her experiences, Uwera’s message to other young girls is poignant; she says, “young girls they should not become parents before time since it comes with a multitude of challenges such as not being able to go to school or have employment opportunities.”

Teen pregnancy limits developmental opportunities. As a result, they are the least educated and according to UNFPA have the highest proportion of unemployment among youth in the region.

Uwera refuses to be defined by her past. She envisions a future where her identity transcends that of just a teen mother.

“What I want for myself and my future is to be a tailor and start tailoring different styles so that I can grow and reach an international level,” she declares, “And they will see how capable I am.”

Let’s all raise awareness against it. Empower your future. Prevent teen pregnancy. Choose wisely today for a brighter tomorrow.

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