Access to contraceptives, an effective tool to fight teenage pregnancy

The Government of Rwanda with support from numerous organisations has been at the forefront of the battle against teenage pregnancy. Their programmes and initiatives mainly focus on protecting young girls against this social ill.

The question is whether access to contraceptives is an effective policy that can work to alleviate the rising teenage pregnancy numbers or not. Based on different researches, the answer is yes, for a number of reasons, which therefore creates an urgent need for policymakers to grant access to contraceptives to teenagers to fight the vice of unwanted pregnancies.

Evidence has indicated that teenagers in this country are sexually active below the age of 15. It is earlier than expected and one of the reasons why legal barriers to contraception should be removed. According to a recent survey, sexual awareness and activities begin at a much younger age.

This is why girls of the ages 13, 14, and 15 are highly reported to have unwanted pregnancies. “At the age of 15, I had my first child, I was threatened by my family after getting pregnant,” one teenage mother narrated while asked why she dropped out of school. 

While age 18 is considered ‘mature’ enough for one to have the right to decide and choose concerning human reproductive health issues, official statistics registered that between 2017 and 2018, under-18 pregnancies increased by about 14 percent, from 17,337 to 19,832. Legal barriers should not be an issue because accessing contraceptives to minors is one way of safeguarding their future.

Under the age of 18, teenagers are already informed about sexual health and reproductive matters and therefore, it makes no sense for them to be taught about it yet not have access to contraceptives. The urgent need to advocate for their rights to access contraceptives should be enforced the same way on sexual reproductive health information and sex education awareness campaigns.

It is still very important that we inform young people about the dangers of indulging in early sexual intercourse; however, it is still up to them to make the decision, which should be the way to go. Restricting contraceptives would hinder the impact on concerns that teenagers have on Reproductive Health, Family Planning, and the prevention of teenage pregnancy.

For minors, the consequences of unwanted pregnancies by far outweigh the impact of contraceptives access. It is because children having other children have far worse effects on their health status including new life responsibilities. This also permeates to the newborn.

Unwanted pregnancies lead to serious health complications at a young age, it also causes great stigma on the affected girl. The concern that giving them access to contraceptives would lead to side effects at a young age should also consider the effect of unwanted pregnancy.

It is a subject that policymakers should approach with openness to ensure that communication is encouraged between adolescents and society. It has also shown that the side effects of contraception are manageable and all the misconceptions about the practice are unproven. Policymakers should take into consideration effective interventions and mechanisms to support and enable adolescents to obtain appropriate contraceptives. Contraceptives should be regulated in the first place. Unlike firearms, alcohol, or voting, contraceptives are personal matters to the individual.

An open discussion should be done between the public and teenagers themselves concerning contraceptives. It will decrease teenage pregnancy rates and statistics thus being the alternative method to avoid problems that are more dangerous for young victims on their education, health- HIV/AIDS, STIs, poverty, and the society as well.

Besides, those who oppose the use of contraceptives for teenagers argue that since their age does not allow sexual intercourse, it would be contrary to the law to provide them with contraceptives. I hope that the policymakers will see what this issue means to the victims, and will consider this feasible solution of allowing access to contraceptives to fight against teenage pregnancies.

The change will only happen when resistance and denial will be left behind, because several cases of victims are worrying, breaking the silence is not enough, also acting on to find the solution.


More initiatives needed to mitigate transgenerational trauma

Healing is a process. In a country like Rwanda which experienced a Genocide in 1994, it is obvious that her population faces many consequences and mostly trauma that comes along with different forms of effects.

This is why Rwandan communities should work collectively by reinforcing considerable initiatives and aspects to enable recovery processes of Transgenerational Trauma among young generations.

Transmission of trauma which is passed out genetically is a crucial challenge that is impacting young people who were born after the genocide yet they even never witnessed horrible situations or they were too young when such events took place.

In particular, bringing together both communities of Genocide perpetrators and survivors is paramount in the fight against the transmission of trauma among the young generation.

The integration of both communities will foster social cohesion amongst their children.

This initiative will be supplemented by the existing efforts by the government of Rwanda to reconcile Rwandans through the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission which is using various homegrown approaches.

They consist of solidarity camps ‘Ingando’ as a civic education that facilitates the smooth reintegration of ex-far soldiers, released prisoners back to their communities inclusively;  ‘Itorero ry’Igihugu’ to instill moral values of integrity, and capacity to deal with one’s problems; ‘Gacaca’ as a traditional Rwandan restorative justice which has been revived to deal with a backlog of genocide cases; Community mediators for conflict resolutions purposes; ‘Umuganda’ as traditional community support to both individual and national cause in the interest of national reconstruction; one cow per poor family ‘Girinka’ as a program that was initiated by President Kagame, aiming to eradicate malnutrition, poverty in line with strengthening social cohesion.

As some of the genocide convicts are completing their prison terms and reintegrating into society, this initiative will contribute to ensuring a happy, harmonized, and trauma-free society.

Also, arts programs can be used in a form of portraying messages and information for therapeutic, educational, and expressive purposes.

Research demonstrates that art is a healing force that can be combined with healthcare facilities that include music, performing arts, dancing, digital art, and design among others by enhancing coping of patient’s level of anxiety, depression thus leading to their healing satisfaction.

According to art therapists, art allows their clients to transcend their emotional pain as a method of creating a narrative through the image of their trauma or loss, thereby releasing the painful memory from its grip in the brain.

Therefore, art therapy is a healing tool due to its source of hope, the creation of a connection, self-exploration, belonging, and joy.

Moreover, free psychological Hub centers for safe spaces and dialogues should be created. This initiative will provide an opportunity for young people to express and share their ideas, ordeals, experiences with their fellow peers in safe environments whereby they never feel prejudiced for being vulnerable.

Additionally, those psychological hub centers would serve as focal points for young generations by providing them with information, guidance, support, and mentorship on mental health subjects and other related matters.

For instance, libraries can be one of these community centers/ hubs by helping them get the information they need because it is more likely that youngsters gather across the neighborhood to consult the place, not only being a place for books or relaxation but also a place that improves their skills on capacity building and knowledge.

Healing initiatives should be established to ensure communities of young people are involved in sustainable solutions to mitigate trauma challenges for the new generation that is more prone to trauma transmitted by their parents.

There is also a need for mental health experts and researchers to play their role in providing solutions and advisory services regarding transgenerational trauma.



Like a mist in the air,

And the wind that blows anywhere,

The clock has no permanent stake,

When time flies away- yet takes no break,

Escaping like slippery water on a hand,

It’s temporary, it fades out- doesn’t stand,

It goes with people like seasonal leaves,

Also, branches that are hard to believe,

But, the Gemini shadows will take off over.


Beating the January Blues

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The month of December happens to be exciting when it approaches. It brings the holiday mood thus fueling you into waiting for the festive season. Once the festive season is over, for many of us the January blues and New Year depression start to set in- the excitement vanishes and it’s now time to face the world with realities of our daily lives.

Well, it might have been fun when partying but now it is eating in hard. Capitalism obliges you to show up at work, the bank account is in negative and you have a whole month to the next payday. Clearly, you are headed for stormy days; it is indeed the suckiest month of the year.

Tales tell no lies, a friend once jokingly said that anyone who is “financially stable” in January is either “stingy or anti-social”, apparently that made a lot of sense with me.

The reasons are that people’s needs double during the period as it is students start school. Also, parents struggle to get their school fees as well as other incentives they go with. Fulfilling these responsibilities comes as a must-priority on the list.

Furthermore, weddings and parties that happen in December leave people drained out of money due to attending, supporting their loved ones. One can say also visits that follow new families, those are plans as well that complement with spending.

I heard another joke that it’s the only month that carries 90 days – the longest month ever. It is due to boredom that keeps impending thus delaying its end. This is beyond being laughable undoubtedly.

By the way, I find it true because this month has also been tough for me, but I kept moving. I tried living with a tight budget; it was hard because I had to forgo some of my lavish moments of high-end outings. I don’t know if it requires learning ‘how to survive January’ but I find it quite personal depending on what works best for a person.

The truth is that some precautions are needed despite being uncalled for. One of the few hints that might be helpful during the darkest month of the year is: Just taking a deep breath, for a moment to inhale and exhale for a second of relief and mindfulness. Sometimes thinking too much about the problem might cause being so far worse, but breathing for a stress release is way better to recharge.

Finding something that keeps you going, here it might be a given hobby that you love. It will help you keep your everyday positive energy for days to pass more quickly, you won’t realize they are even fast.

Managing well your current tight budget, this is the hardest section because it requires sacrifice and patience. Personal financial management is quite tricky when expenses are more than savings but mastering them at the end is magic.

So January being hard, the good part is- it’s temporary. It ends like other months of the year. Let’s persist one more time.


My first time trekking mountain gorillas

It was on a Saturday afternoon when we assembled at the offices of Rwanda Development Board for a briefing before we headed to Musanze District for a marvellous adventure.

We were set to go see mountain gorillas. As someone who loves travelling, this was more of a lifetime trip and it was thrilling. Liveliness was in our buses with a mixture of jokes, chats and of course trying to get to know each other.

I knew that my weekend was going to be spent well.

Upon arrival in Musanze, we were welcomed and accommodated until the next morning when we set off on our journey to explore.

There was that enthusiasm that wakes you up early in the morning, imagining how you are going to climb that thick forest to see these remarkable creatures and all the while glancing at the outstanding mountains wrapped with thick clouds at the peaks.

We woke up at 4 am and started our journey to the National Volcanoes Park.

This was a dream come true because it’s not every day that anyone can afford to see these gorillas.

We went to Kinigi office for instructions and an introduction to our tour guides. They fed us with the background history of numerous gorilla families and after we were dispersed into small groups of eight as we were delegated to separate sites.

I was among the team that visited Igisha family consisting of 34 family members.

Surprisingly, these animals have no borders, you can predict to find them in the North, then locate them in the South. We drove for two hours up to the starting point “Kamuhekunzuzi Trekking Trail” at Nyabihu District-Western Province.

The slope of Kalisimbi was our main focus for it is where we could track them from. Meanwhile, our tour guides kept reminding us of the gorilla trekking rules and regulations.


“Gorillas are huge in size especially silverbacks and black backs, they are generally calm and peaceful except when they are troubled,” they narrated.

“They can also stand straight, throw things, climb bushes and make aggressive charges such as pounding their big chests while barking out powerful hoots or releasing troublesome howls.”

“Submit, be humble, don’t imitate them and don’t come close,” we were warned.

“Don’t run, stand still and don’t stare at them for long, it can be provocative,” the guides instructed.


It took us about thirty minutes to reach the gorillas’ region and boom, the gorillas were in front of us. At first, it was a bit scary because they are giant animals but they were comfortable enjoying our presence.

We were told that their nourishment is made of bamboo trees, they also eat more than 200 types of herbs. We had around one hour of fun as we took photos.

Later on, we were on our way back and it took us about 40 minutes to reach the ending point “Umugano Trail”.

It definitely was a one-of-a-kind type of adventure. There is a zeal that rises after seeing Gorilla face to face and this will stay with me for a long time. And I must say I was satisfied, a lot of expectations were fulfilled, my questions were answered, and I achieved the greatest goal.

Like the English saying “worth every penny” (Akezakarigura in Kinyarwanda), which means that something splendid is worth no matter what. I think a visit to Rwanda’s mountain gorillas is priceless.

Gorillas are more than endangered species, they are intersected in East Africa regions of Rwanda, Uganda, and DRC. Beyond the conservation to improve their safety and wellbeing, they bring in revenue that contributes to the improvement of livelihood in communities around the park.8

What I witnessed is that these animals are unmatched, their magnificence is indescribable. These living things deserve to be preserved at all costs.

I have in the past had a chance to visit numerous tourist destinations of Rwanda such as the Canopy walk in Nyungwe Forest National Park, Bisoke Volcano, a few museums; Campaign Against Genocide Museum, King’s Palace Museum and Ethnographic Museum to relax, examine and discover.

But this one particular voyage was exceptional, this is why urging anyone to go and see, and come and tell is not a bad idea at all.

It is high time that we continue exploring Rwanda’s wonderful tourist attractions instead of always allowing foreigners to tell our stories.


“Children deserve to have a voice too”: says South African Author Manquoba Masondo

The very act of breaking the silence is a catalyst for healing. Child abuse is very complex issues; some of the issues that perpetuate this kind of abuse is it goes unreported.

Manqoba Masondo, a South African published a book called Nasemaphandleni zikhona izimpisi, in his novel he narrates through his characters the importance to speak and act against child abuse, and how it damages victim.

This month we celebrate National Child Abuse Awareness, today we look at what other ways we can encourage kids and family members to speak up. Among African families they is this unspoken culture of allowing children to be abused by uncles and their fathers, and family members turn blind eyes to such acts.

Such act is a torture to the innocent child, who has been molested, raped and robbed an opportunity to be a happy child.

What authors like Manqoba Masondo are doing is to be a voice for the voiceless, to speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves. And they also encourage victims to sometimes do it for ourselves; they have to break the silence and be a voice for the child they once were, the child who had no power and no voice. You are never alone, I encourage you to break the silence if you have been a victim of child abuse. There is help out there.

There has been a recent trend on social media #MeToo. In this trend many women were coming out and stating how they have been victims of sexual violence, and how silence have killed them slowly. Speaking out was a therapy too; many of these women who have never spoken about what happened to them in the past.
You may not be a victim of sexual abuse, but I ask that you be bold enough to stand up for that child, you see who has signs of been sexually violented.

Someone once said ‘children who are to be loved, cherished, cared for and trained to become whom the Father wants them to be, die in silence, hurt and self –hatred.’
I always say when you fail to speak against evil, you are in support of it. If you support evil you are a partner to the perpetrator period! We need to be involved in the process of putting a stop to the abuse of children sexually.

Author Manqoba Masondo says ‘Rape is not normal, we need to continue to engage in such conversations moving forward.’



I was told that I am tomorrow,

A generation lighting candles of Hope,

Garderning roots of compassion amongst us,

Of prosperity and integrity,

Of values and dignity.

Youth of Rwanda this is our calling,

As branches of change that rose from fallen Kings and Queens,

Joining hands to move beyond the horizons of the past.

25years are a passing wind,

May It instill in us Resilience to Unite humankind.

The sunshine to collect people’s broken pieces,

Soothing and Comforting survivors,

Teaching generations and generations a World free of Genocide,

Cause to remember ours is to live.

In Remembrance of those we lost during the genocide perpetrated against Tutsi in 1994.