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Teenage Pregnancies in Africa: Who’s Responsible?

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What first comes to mind when you hear of teenage pregnancies? This question signifies so many things to different people. A typical African parent sees it as a disgrace and a taboo. A majority of the victims in regret and frustration, try to take away the lives of the innocent children growing within them. I would say all of the above opinions are nothing but the reality. However, as a health personnel, the question should be, what’s the real image behind every teenage pregnancy? This may be a difficult question with a biased answer but the truth is, everyone is guilty of every teenager who gets pregnant.

Oh yes! The parents, boys, girls, I and even you reading this, are in one way or the other, responsible for a teenager getting pregnant.

In most countries, a teenager is anyone within the ages of 13-19 years. And teenage pregnancy is when a girl within this age group gets pregnant. In most cases, not only is the teenager’s body not fully developed biologically to accommodate a baby, but she is psychologically not aware of what she is getting into.

Research has proven that the high rates of unsafe abortions are as a result of teenagers trying to get rid of the baby. At worse, she loses her womb. At worst, she loses her life.

Diagnosis of abortion complications in Nigeria. Source: Bankole (Guttmacher)

The downsides of teenage pregnancies

Before we play the blame game of who is responsible for teenage pregnancies, let’s take a good look at some of the disadvantages of teenage pregnancies. It leads to so many teenage girls dropping out of school, lack of money to cater for themselves and children can push them to become commercial sex workers (prostitutes), frustration and bitterness due to their unrealized dreams, are sometimes passed down to these innocent kids. What’s more, some lose their lives in the process of putting to birth and most give birth to underweight children.

Now, who’s really responsible?

We all are in one way or the other, responsible for every teenage girl who gets pregnant. Our African stereotype mindset has a great role to play here. It is good to teach our kids and siblings good morals BUT why do we exclude talks about sexual and reproductive health from these children?

We are in a highly digitalized society where everything is available via the Internet without any age restrictions. If we fail to educate them on what is right, they are exposed to those things outside and sometimes, get carried away and make the wrong choices. We (you and I) have also failed because of some very little acts we overlook; why do we give an unpleasant stare to a teenager coming to purchase a contraceptive (in most cases condoms)? Because we look at them as immoral, this makes many of these teens who are sexually active afraid to come out to buy them for fear of being criticized. So, they prefer to go about the act without protection and the end result is a baby neither of them planned for.

The Integrated Health Organization’s contribution

The Integrated Health Organization has carried out several campaigns in schools and strongly advocates for parents and adults to properly educate teenagers on safe sex practices.

Cynthia Adanze leading an IHO sensitization campaign for the importance of educating teenagers on safe sex practices.

We are a team of dynamic youths with so much interest in preventive health. Educating teenagers especially at home and in schools will go a long way to curb the alarming rates of teenage pregnancies.

Let’s stop pointing accusing fingers when they come to purchase a contraceptive. It is our duty to guide these teens on how to go about life, especially within their teenage days. Rather than reject those who are already pregnant, let us support them. Then, make them understand it’s not the end of life as they can still achieve their dreams.

Teenage pregnancy is unhealthy and isn’t something anyone should encourage.

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Afro Success Stories

African Entrepreneurs creating Jobs and Employment in Their Communities – Olasupo Abideen

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Olasupo Abideen ” My greatest achievement is being a 25yr old employer who employs 35 people and has trained 475 Others” as one of african entrepreneurs.

Meet Olasupo

I am a 25year old one of Nigerian african entrepreneurs, founder/CEO of OPAB Gas with over 6 years of transnational experience leading and working with diverse teams to facilitate youth empowerment, development projects and youth involvement in policy. I am a UNESCO ESD Young Leader, a WEF Global Shaper and a Fellow, Young Africa Leadership Initiative.

Since receiving the $5000 Seed Capital in December 2018, my Company has created employment for thirty-five (35) University undergraduates (through our Work Student and Student Ambassadorship Program), opened ‘four (4) new Gas stores’, and trained ‘four hundred and seventy-five (475) unemployed youth and corps members‘ (through our #Gasprenuer Initiative). As a means of giving back to the community, we have also helped ‘five (5) kids’ return to school through our #StreetToSchool programme for our Community.

My Humble Beginnings

I watched my mother walk long distances to gather firewood and buy coal to cook for my family in my growing up years in my village in south-west Nigeria, where I was raised. It wasn’t peculiar to my mother; this was commonplace for all families. We all knew it wasn’t safe. We knew that if it made them this uncomfortable, there was no way it was safe, but we didn’t know there were alternatives. After all, this is how our grandparents and their parents before them lived.

It bothered me to see my mother’s red eyes, and the wet eyes of other women in our rural community bothered me a lot. Even though I did not know until recently that cooking with firewood is equivalent to smoking 400 cigarettes per hour, and is one of the three causes of mortality among women and children, I knew there had to be something I could do, but I couldn’t figure it out; or better put, I did not have enough education nor access to information to figure it out.

 

My Business Idea

The Idea to start my business came from a need that I identified and solving that problem meant a business opportunity. As a student of chemistry at the University of Ilorin, I was exposed – through volunteering – to MDGs (and subsequently SDGs), and I took a keen interest in clean, renewable energy, that could be used instead of orthodox fuelling options, and one of them was Liquefied Petroleum Gas.

After a long time of advocacy for SDGs, as an undergraduate, my SDGs advocacy and youth development organization, Brain Builders International, signed an agreement with the Kwara State University’s Community Development and Entrepreneurship Centre to train young Nigerians african entrepreneurs on the Sustainable Development Goals, their benefits, and ways toward actualisation.

I noticed that every time I took the 55min trip to Kwara State University to facilitate these training sessions, I would encounter students carrying gas cylinders: either going to fill Gas in Ilorin or coming back from Ilorin after filling Gas. I later learnt that the only cooking gas supplier in the community at that time was exploiting the students by using a manual scale that could be manipulated and also selling at a rip-off price.

 

Solving the Problem

In 2017, I took a soft loan from a friend, added some of my own moneyand after conducting intense market research, filing necessary papers, and satisfying ethical and professional standards, we opened our first OPAB Gas station. The services we offered hinged on three things; convenience, safety, and trust. Students could now focus on academics, as we did not only sell gas at the standard rate, but we also offered pick-up and delivery services. We used safe measures alongside a digital scale to address the issue of trust. Within three months we had broken even.

The TEF Intervention

In 2018, I applied for the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme but was only selected for the GIZ list to be one of the 210 beneficiaries of the training and $5000 funding. The training provided by the foundation on business planning, financial intelligence, scalability, among others could only be likened to a mini MBA.

Immediately after the training myself and my team we started discussing how to dominate the market in which we operate and capture new markets.

With the seed capital, we were able to expand our business.

 

Our Growth and Milestones as one of african entrepreneurs

  • Expansion: We have expanded the business to 6 stations in two townships to target the student populations and made over $25,000 since receiving the seed capital from the foundation.
  • Employment: Staff strength – 2 (in 2017), 35 people (2019).
  • Gas on Wheels: We now own delivery vans and offers delivery services
  • Digitization: We now take orders on the business’ website in both cities where we operate.
  • Introduced Customer Loyalty service
    • Health safety card – to educate users about safety measures.
    • Customer reward: Points reward system.
    • Holiday Promos
  • we also have a few impact initiatives that we run.
  • OPAB Gas has trained 450 Youth Corps members, unemployed youth in Kwara State on the economic merits of the Gas economy and the many opportunities that abound in the sector.
  • In line with the UN SDGs, OPAB student work experience – an internship programme where we train students. During this internship, they work on Sundays for a stipend. They then receive N10,000 for every 1000kg of gas sold.
  • OPAB gas student ambassador scheme – delivery service.

 

The Future

The vision for OPAB Gas has always been to solve energy availability and ease of use for everyone across Nigeria so we are constantly working on ways to reach out to more Nigerians.

Our OPAB telemetry solution will allow people to monitor and manage their gas usage, notify them when it is almost finished, connect them to the nearest gas stations and pay for gas with existing mobile money applications.

 

 

Contact Details

Website: https://opabgas.com

Instagram: @opabgas_

Phone call/WhatsApp: 07068775529.

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