Smart Mothers Foundation (SMF) is one of the numerious Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) operating in southern Nigeria, Akwa Ibom State to be precise. The NGO sets out to fight and help eradicate teenage pregnancy as well as restore victims to our castigating society through its sensitization programmes and outreach. Founder and coordinator of SMF, Sifon Udo, revealed her drive for establishing the foundation, "Our engagement with Teen mothers started in late 2017 when we noticed the leading trend of young teen girls who made it a competition to get pregnant in the rural communities. "Ultimately, my drive for this developmental path came from my personal story. Growing up in an environment where topics related to sex is considered a taboo. "This incidence informed my drive to tackle teenage pregnancy by teaching sex education to teenagers, and empowering teen mothers to face their new life path with hope." She said. For an NGO that started a year ago, its growth is quite significant as it has reached 1356 teenagers and 59 teen mothers. Speaking of the growth, the founder said, "We have reached 15% of our target in 2018 although our initial target was 35%. However, due to limited funds we were unable to reach our expected target. "We have achieved measurable impact through the different initiatives we've launched for teenagers and teen mothers. Today, 15% of our teen mothers are undergoing skill programs in hair making. They have been reformed, restored and reintegrated back into the society.” Udo listed the challenges of the foundation, she said, "Our challenges like many other organizations are enormous but critical issues are; Barrier in communication, most times it is difficult to communicate effectively with the teen mothers mostly because of their level of understanding; difficulty accessing public schools for sex education outreaches due to the beliefs we hold about sex; getting sex education to be incorporated into school’s curriculum; funding. "All our outreaches are impactful but the most outstanding of them was the Mbiaso medical outreach where we taught 629 teenagers and provided medical relief materials such as baby diapers, baby wipes, toilet rolls, mosquito nets to 123 teen mothers and carried out HIV tests and blood pressure checks. We were also able to launch our Teen mother’s network through this outreach too. "Our major preventive measure is our sex education sensitization in schools and communities." She explained. SMF coordinator concluded by relating the plans for 2019, "in 2019 we will focus on identifying and connecting with more teenagers and teen mothers also driving capacity development for teen mothers in our network and teenagers in our iSOLVE Nation."
By: Anne Clement Bassey