The society often looks down upon single mothers. They are treated as scums undeserving of dignity and not expected to have any moral authority.
The online vitriol that has always been targeted at single mothers is an indicator of the society’s perception of being a single mother. People choose to overlook the fact that they did not impregnate themselves. Most of them provide for themselves without relying on anybody else, but they are not spared of the bile. It is difficult being a single mother in Kenya.
It is even more difficult when you are still a student on campus and have to balance your books and being a mother. The fear of such a burden has often led to students procuring abortions in Kenyan universities.
Those who have the courage to carry through with the pregnancy, either prefer to drop out of school and resume studies at a later date or just forget about it altogether.
However, others choose to take the challenge head on. They juggle between books and attending to the baby. From afar, it looks simple. Get a babysitter when attending classes, take over when you are done. However, that is not usually the case as it can become a daunting task that can break a weak spirit. Add that to the hard task of finding a trustworthy babysitter and you have a mountain to climb.
Three mums share with Afromum their experience of being a single mum in campus;
Milly, 23, Biomed, 4th year, Maseno University.
I delivered my baby while in school. It was a very difficult time. Both the baby and the books needed my undivided attention given my course. I, however, chose to prioritize the baby. I chose to be there for him whenever he needed me and to concentrate on providing for him. It made me miss some of my assessment tests. Some of my lecturers were unwilling to give makeup tests for those who had missed the initial test.
The father of the baby was very supportive during the pregnancy but we parted ways after the baby was born. I found out he had been seeing another lady all along and decided to go it alone.This was very difficult because I had to nurse a heartbreak, attend to my baby and still ensure that my school work was not severely affected.
It was, however, not all doom and gloom as my family was very supportive and it made the burden much lighter.
My son is now 2 years old.
Hannah Anyango, 25, Public Relations professional.
‘The sperm donor’ left immediately after I delivered. Up to today, I still don’t know why he ghosted on me and the baby.
Things were extremely difficult as it took my family a while to accept me and my bundle of joy. Even the people I could count on as friends thinned out. Since the school hostels weren’t accommodative of students with babies, I had to rent a room out of school. This only piled on my financial misery.
While I had no trouble getting babysitters, they were often poached by my neighbors. Being a student, I couldn’t flex my financial muscles that much. My neighbors turned me into a housemaid scout of sorts.
Sometimes, I had to choose between class and being with Kay. There are instances when you would be in class and receive a text from the babysitter that something was wrong with the baby. Those were trying moments as I would have to leave class to attend to her. Since the lecturers weren’t interested in your personal troubles, you left as if you were going for a call of nature, never to come back.
Kayleen is now all grown now and is now my source of inspiration. Whatever we go through now, it can’t be worse than what we went through then
Judy, 22, Education student, Chuka University.
Being a mum made me put more effort into everything that I do. It changed me. I learned how to make the most out of limited resources. The experience matured me up.
Before I could get a babysitter, I had many sleepless nights taking care of the baby’s needs and catching up on the class work.
The man responsible bailed out on me late into the pregnancy. At first, he was always there for me. Then poof! he was gone the next moment. After the baby was born, an aunt took care of both of us for a month before I went back to school.
My uncles and cousins were very supportive and were always there when I needed them. They paid hospital bills whenever the baby was sick and also saw to it that the babysitter got paid in time.
The baby is now a year old.
These three represent the many student single moms who have gone through fire and come out smiling. They represent the will of many who have refused to go down without a fight. And they won. Just because you are weighed down and abandoned does not mean you have to give up.