Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Teenage Pregnancies in Sierra Leone



Health workers in Sierra Leone are battling a teenage pregnancy epidemic and they say it shows no sign of slowing.
After the west African country announced its first Ebola cases in May 2014, schools were closed and movement severely restricted, leaving girls more vulnerable to abuse. During the helter-skelter chaos of the Ebola crisis many teenagers were raped or forced to have sex for money to contribute to household expenses, according to research by children’s charities and UN agencies.
The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has counted more than 18,000 teenage pregnancies, with the number of pregnant girls up by 65 percent in some districts.
But the Ebola outbreak meant that resources and staff were diverted away from maternal health. The result is thousands of girls who will never live to become women, as UNFPA estimates that 40 percent of all maternal deaths occur among those under 18.
A lack of birth control and conservative abortion laws mean that many girls, upon realizing they are pregnant and fearing they will be forced to drop out of school, attempt to abort with drugs or seek out backstreet providers who employ methods such as bicycle spokes to terminate pregnancies.
In fact, Sierra Leone is internationally recognized as the country with the world’s highest maternal mortality rate, at 1,360 deaths per 100,000 live births.
On Wednesday evening, I was in KL’s Brickfields to attend the MIA Toastmasters meeting. I volunteered for the role of Toastmaster-of-the-Evening. 

I also delivered an Advanced speech “Bringing History to Life” from the Storytelling manual – titled “Marilyn”.

The setting was a séance where Marilyn Monroe’s spirit took control over me and then spoke through me. She had wanted to tell her side of the story about JFK and her. And hey, I was voted Best Project Speaker!

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