The absence of proper parental supervision can be detrimental to a child's life. Mercy is an 18-year-old girl who knows this all too well. She currently lives with her mother and six siblings in Mombasa county in Kenya. However, before she completed her primary school education, she went to live with her father and stepmother. During her stay there Mercy was completely neglected, paving the way for her to be exposed to sexual exploitation when she was 14 years old.
Mercy began engaging in sexual activities in exchange for money as a result of lack of proper attention and supervision and constant pressure from her peers. After completing her primary education, she moved back to her mother´s home, who enrolled her in a rehabilitation project after noticing a change in her behaviour. Mercy´s mother by then was earning a living through selling palm wine-mnazi- with the help of her 35-year-old male business partner. Mercy occasionally assisted her mother with serving customers. Soon, her mother´s business partner began to sexually exploit 17-year-old Mercy in exchange for money. This went on from early 2020 until September of the same year when the girl got pregnant.
She disclosed her pregnancy and the perpetrator´s involvement to her mother. However, the man denied having any association with her. With the help and support from our partner Kesho Kenya, the case was reported to the police. The perpetrator was arrested and arraigned in court for defilement in December 2020. The case is currently ongoing in court. At the time, Mercy faced an emotional battle due to her situation. ¨I felt I had let my mother down because of this pregnancy. I spent days crying when I discovered I was pregnant,¨ she narrated.
Mercy has been attending counselling sessions with the project counsellor. She is doing well based on the psychological assessments conducted so far. She also received medical support and has been going for regular prenatal screenings during her clinic appointments. Additionally, the project supported Mercy´s mother with seed capital to supplement her income which she used to open a food kiosk. Despite her education being put on hold due to her pregnancy, Mercy is hopeful about going back to school.¨I still want to go back to school after the pregnancy. I hope I get to do that. I am grateful for the support offered to my mother and I by Kesho Kenya and TdH-NL.¨
Mercy is grateful for getting a second chance at life. She states, ¨I regret being irresponsible and careless with my life but since hope has been restored, I will go back to school and study twice as hard to prove that second chances do work.¨ Mercy uses her life experience as a lesson to guide and encourage her peers to concentrate on their education. She aspires to become a teacher so that she can be able to guide other children.