When she was impregnated at the age of 17 while she was in senior three in ordinary level, Shadia Icyimpaye hailing from Rwamagana District, feared that she would not live up to her potential. Impregnated at such young age, she said, the kid is now 3 years old and the father of the kid has never given her any support, “He refuted all claims that he impregnated me. He has married another girl. It hurt me a lot because when the incidence happened, the family didn’t feel well about it. I was facing stigma from all sides. I immediately dropped out of school. It was a bad life to give birth at such an age without any job to help me cater for my kid,” she narrated. However, the teen mother who is currently 21 years old is now optimistic about the future as she looks to create a job from tailoring skills. “I have got the support to learn tailoring and I am ready to create my own job in the coming months after graduation. I have realized that tailoring is a potential vocation on the job market,” she said. The teen mother is part of 40 teen mothers pursuing tailoring Kigabiro Sector as a way of getting income generating sources that could help them to cater for their children. She said that with hope to get toolkits after graduation, they plan to open workshops and work in groups to be able to tap into opportunities availed by Made-In-Rwanda policy. “As government continues to promote locally produced garments, we see it as an opportunity to create jobs with tailoring skills. Today, though I am still learning, I can tailor different garments such as trousers, dresses, skirts, shirts among others,” she said. Besides acquiring TVET skills, we have got counseling and how we can adapt ourselves in the community despite being victims of defilement, she added. “Even though the father of the kid has never provided me with any support, I am optimistic about a bright future. I have got moral and physical support. It will be my remarkable achievement when I am able to generate income and pay school fees for my kid,” she said. Josee Mushimiyimana was impregnated when she was in senior six of secondary school and the father of her child fled. “It is a hurdle to start motherhood at such a young age. With tailoring as a source of income I will raise my child despite being alone without his father. Through counseling, I have love for my kid. The tailoring skills will help me to escape men who lure adolescent girls into sexual intercourse,” she said. Today, she is able to tailor men and women’s clothes including dresses, skirts, shorts, trousers, shirts, school uniforms, face masks among others. Marie Clarisse Mfurayabo, the Founder of MFURA Foundation that is catering for the teen mothers in Rwamagana district said that counseling teen mothers and teaching TVET is a way of avoiding further unwanted and teen pregnancies. “When teen mothers remain in loneliness, their lives worsen. They need support to improve their lives,” she said. “After joining the programme, the teen mothers can now manage to handle stigma, they can speak publicly. Each of them has set up goals and ways to achieve them. After graduating they will also get toolkits to start their own businesses,” she said. Teen pregnancy rate The teen mothers in Rwamagana District are among thousands of teenagers who were impregnated over the past five years and facing many consequences, including dropping out of school across the country. At least 17,849 teenagers were impregnated across the country in 2016, 17, 337 teenagers were impregnated in 2017 while 19, 832 teenagers were impregnated in 2018 — and from January to August 2019 alone, 15, 656 teenagers were impregnated. Activists say the numbers could have surged following the Covid-19 pandemic impact that left many girls vulnerable. In Rwamagana District, 300 teenagers were impregnated from July 2019 to June 2020, of whom 150 teenagers were impregnated during the pandemic. The recent Rwanda Demographic and Health Survey, sixth of its kind, shows that reproductive health education and teen pregnancies are still an issue among the youth. The survey published by the Rwanda National Institute of Statistics (NISR) found that the rate of teenage pregnancies and births in Rwanda is at 5.2 per cent, having decreased from 7.3 per cent in 2014 to 2015. The teen mothers are appealing for support in terms of small income generating businesses, such as rearing and farming as well as learning Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), among other things.