Ivanna Waweru is a 21 year-old mother one. Ivanna is a student, currently pursuing a degree in Counselling Psychology. She is also a blogger, creative writer and a budding ladyprenuer.
Recently, Ivanna founded a young mom’s initiative called Weza Dada Foundation which is all about empowering her fellow young moms. I had coffee with this bubbly young lady, and this is her story.
“My motherhood journey has not been a walk in the park as I got pregnant when I was 18 years old. It was a tough situation since it was an unplanned pregnancy and right from the beginning, I had to pull myself together since I soon realized I was going to be a single mom. I had to be strong.
When I was seven months pregnant, I enrolled for a diploma course in Counseling Psychology. This happened because my mom insisted that she was only going to support my baby and I as long as I went back to school. I am absolutely grateful for having the support of my mom – I know other teen moms haven’t been as lucky.
My graduation was such an emotional time for me; my baby and my diploma are literally twins! Now I’m pursuing my degree, and I have to balance my studies and being a mom to my little boy. It certainly hasn’t been a walk in the park, but as time goes by it gets easier and I acquire better coping skills.
What Inspired you to start Weza Dada?
While my mom caters for my financial needs well enough, I started feeling the need to do something to earn some money as I grow towards becoming financially independent. I have started small businesses since my son was born –some have not succeeded while others are still ongoing.
Also, at some point I realized that my emotional challenges were still stressing me very much. Young motherhood can be tough, and many times I would feel alone, overwhelmed and just too tired! Sometimes I hated myself and I honestly wasn’t fully functioning. There were moments when I didn’t want to meet friends and just I felt so unworthy.
As I was going through this, I thought of the young moms out there who didn’t have the kind of financial support that I had, and were also having to deal with the kind of emotional stress that I was going through. I started feeling the need to reach out to them.
It also happened that my studies in Counselling Psychology had ignited a passion in me for working with people. In fact, when I undertook my academic research at Kenyatta National Hospital where I focused on the topic of challenges faced by young mothers, I especially developed an intense soft spot for young mothers, because I could empathize.
This experience fueled my decision to start an initiative which I hoped would work towards assisting young mothers –giving them hope and helping them improve their lives.
So I started connecting with young moms through social media; on WhatsApp and Facebook and with time, I took these interactions offline to where we’ve been able to meet up physically. That’s the story behind Weza Dada’s beginning.
Weza Dada’s Activities
So far, we have had three successful meetings: at Uhuru park and two at Le 63 Lounge at Uhuru Gardens. During these events, we’ve had different speakers share their experiences whilst encouraging us. They speakers were Thitu Kariba, a wellness and fitness coach who spoke about ‘Young moms taking control of their lives’, and Wairimu Kiragu, a life coach who spoke on ‘Courage and authentic living’.
During our third meet up, we trained young moms on making shaggy and pompom mats, because we want to encourage them to engage in their own income-generating activities in a bid to be financially independent.
Through my interaction with young moms, I’ve come to realize that many young moms’ problems are compounded when they have to rely on other people for their subsistence. But when they are able to go to school, get employment or run their own businesses, they are able to better support themselves and their children. In the coming months, I hope to have more business empowerment opportunities for young moms while at the same time encouraging them to advance their education.
Also Read: Conversations with Young Moms -Amira Africa
We also continue to have our discussions on our online platforms where we encourage, share and learn from one another.
What have been Your Notable Sucesses?
We have reached over 200 young mothers in Kenya through our social media platforms and events. We have also had young mothers reconcile their lives and have a better outlook about life.
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