A recap on the 2023 Young Mother Program

Dec 20, 2023

Below is a recap and compilation of stories from Help Lesotho’s 2023 Young Mother Support Program. Read on to learn about the impact this program is having in the lives of so many young women and their families.

In many ways, Help Lesotho’s Young Mother Program has the most visible evidence of change of all Help Lesotho programs. Throughout the program, the girls and young women’s bodies undergo significant changes related to pregnancy, breastfeeding, and the post-natal months and years. The way the participants care for their changing bodies is even more remarkable. They carry themselves with more confidence, they no longer feel shame over their bodies, and they see value in caring for their bodies with respect and acceptance. They no longer feel relegated to the sidelines while their children and partners take what ‘they need’ from their bodies.

In the early days of the program, it very rare to see any young mothers smiling. They are cautious, guarded, wounded and grieving. Over time, there is a palpable relaxation in the training room as the young mothers allow themselves to share. Help Lesotho’s Young Mother Program is a comprehensive approach to capacitate adolescent girls and young women with strategies and support to cope with the repercussions of being young mothers. This involves emotional turmoil, dropping out of school, expulsion from family units, lack of support from the father of the child (and their families), stigma and rejection from community members, poverty, stress and livelihood insecurity. The program fosters capacity in the participants to build their personal resilience, learn to make healthy decisions, and support one another through their challenges.

Top 10 Key Impacts

  1.  Improved self-esteem
  2. Increased respect – for oneself and for others
  3. Confidence with expressing feelings and emotions
  4. Improved communication skills
  5. Improved relationships with spouses and family members
  6. Establishment of support groups with other young mothers
  7. Income-generation from the Starter Packs
  8. Better understanding of early childhood development
  9. Improved anger management skills
  10. Increased access to sexual and reproductive health services
young mothers with their small children.

Stories of Hope

Boitumelo with her daughter.

Boitumelo

Boitumelo found herself pregnant at only 16-years-old. Her boyfriend refused to accept his role and left her to face the responsibilities of motherhood alone. Boitumelo is relieved that her family allowed her to stay with them.

Boitumelo joined the Young Mother Program when she was six months pregnant. She had never visited the clinic since becoming pregnant, but was supported to attend prenatal visits thanks to Help Lesotho facilitators. Thankfully she and her baby were healthy then, and continue to be in the postnatal period as well

A vocational school attended one of the program’s monthly training sessions to share various opportunities they had available for young mothers to access education. They decided to enroll Boitumelo in their program at no cost because she was the youngest participant in the program. Over several months she attended classes to learn catering, knitting and sewing. These skills will help her generate an income for her and her baby. Boitumelo shared, “I am grateful every day that Help Lesotho found me. I know I am on the right path now.”

Makutloano

At only 24 years old, Makutloano has endured tremendous loss. She married her husband when she was 18-years-old after finding out she was pregnant. They went on to have three more children. In April 2022, her husband passed away; a loss she thought was unbearable until she had to bury one of her children in January of this year.

Makutloano said, “Had I not been in this program, I would have lost my mind. The pain I have endured is unmeasurable. I felt much supported in this program by the facilitators and other young mothers. The partners and parents training transformed my relationship with my mother-in-law who is very supportive in helping raise my three children.”

She went on to describe that the resources, such as vegetable seeds and the income-generating starter pack she received through the Young Mother Program, have empowered her to regain her independence; “More burden is off my shoulders because I am able to be resourceful; plant crops in the field for selling and consumption. I confidently attest that the Help Lesotho is a safe place to learn, grow and heal”.

Maphethahatso, young mother program participant

Maphethahatso

Maphethahatso is a 24-year-old mother from Berea district. She and her husband are parents to a five-year-old son and are expecting a second baby. Before the training, Maphethahatso used to be shy and feared interacting with other people. The session on self-esteem helped her to re-gain her confidence and as a result she managed to fully participate in the training with her peers. She says she also managed to express her feelings in her family using the communication skills she learned. She feels that her family now has more respect for her because she has good ideas and opinions to share.

Rahaba

Rahaba says that the Young Mother Program arrived just when she needed it most during a difficult period in her life. Her marriage was crumbling due to unresolved conflicts with her husband, and as it ultimately came to an end, the resilience module sparked a transformation within her, inspiring her to pick up the pieces and find a way forward. She said, “the program helped me emotionally because my marriage situation was stressful and I had no one to share with. Also I have been able to have self-actualisation, putting myself and my child before everything else”.

Rahaba, young mother program participant

Makatleho

Makatleho describes herself as rude, harsh and lacking patience before the program, and now describes herself as confident, humble, and respectful. Previously, her relationship with her husband was very strained and they were always fighting. They are now able to politely speak to one another and value what the other has to say.

She went on to say that the program instilled the importance seeking sexual and reproductive health services and taking her daughter for check-ups consistently. She proudly said, “my child has become a radiant child who eats nutritious food. I am now playing and reading books with her regularly to improve her cognitive development and I see so much improvement even at her young age.”

Program Statistics

stats on the young mother program 2023

Investing in the next generation:

Although Help Lesotho’s program is focused on young mothers in their own right, undoubtedly the children of these young women stand to benefit both in the immediate and the long-term. These babies will grow up with mothers who stand up for their rights, who are role models of healthy relationships, who value education, who prioritize healthy decisions, and who see parenting as more of a privilege than a burden.

Although Help Lesotho’s program is focused on young mothers in their own right, undoubtedly the children of these young women stand to benefit both in the immediate and the long-term. These babies will grow up with mothers who stand up for their rights, who are role models of healthy relationships, who value education, who prioritize healthy decisions, and who see parenting as more of a privilege than a burden.