Empowering stories from the Teen Mother Project – “It felt like a family” 

The Teen Mother Project is helping young mums in Rwanda overcome adversity and find their independence. Read on to discover how your support is bringing hope back to family.

An unmarried teen mother can face huge discrimination and prejudice. They’re at risk of being rejected by their families, dropping out of school, facing unemployment, or even abandoning their children just to survive.

That’s why we launched the Teen Mother Project in 2021, working with the Rwandan government and local leader to find, counsel and support vulnerable teenage mothers. Thanks to your donations, we’re helping young women on their journey into motherhood, bringing hope, strength and stability back to family.

Will you help us support young children and families in Rwanda? Donate today.

Shalon*, pictured here at 21, received help from our Teen Mother Project to raise her daughter, Doris*, six.
Jean Bizimana/Hope and Homes for Children

How does the Teen Mother Project work? 

The Teen Mother Project supports young women who’ve been rejected by their communities. We help them get back on their feet, into school, and onto a path towards financial independence. This is done across four stages.

  1. Emergency Support First, we ensure teen mothers have safe housing, food and medical support.
  2. Psychological Support Then, we offer therapy, including group counselling and counselling for their relatives.
  3. Professional Support & Life Skills Once they’re ready, we support teen mums to complete high school or finish vocational training in hairdressing, tailoring or mechanics. 
  4. Financial Support Lastly, we help teen mums set up small-scale businesses or complete internships, supporting them to have long-term income.

The Teen Mother Project is headed up by Claudine Murebwayire, one of our social workers in Kigali. As Claudine explains, supporting these young women is a chance to strengthen her community for generations to come:

“They are the future of the country. We have to help them and prepare them.” 

Claudine Murebwayire (right), leader of the Teen Mother Project, believes every young mum deserves the opportunity to pursue her dreams.
Jean Bizimana/Hope and Homes for Children

Shalon* and Nathalie* are two young women who’ve received support from our Teen Mother Project. Thanks to your donations, they found the strength to carry on and start a new chapter. As proud single mothers.

Shalon’s story – overcoming shame and adversity

“Now, when I say that I am a single mother I feel happy. And when I talk to others about it, I feel happy, not alone.”

Shalon is a young single mum from Kigali, Rwanda who was shunned from her family for four years after giving birth to her daughter, Doris*.  Her mum, Viviane*, was also facing discrimination, and didn’t feel able to accept her daughter. As a result, Shalon dropped out of school to raise her baby all alone. She was only 15.  

“When girls like Shalon get pregnant, society expects their families to feel shame,” explains Claudine. “If no one helps them, they could be at risk of abandoning their children on the street.”  

Claudine invited Shalon to our group counselling sessions with other young mums. “It helped me understand I didn’t commit a crime,” says Shalon. “That I’m still a human.”

Viviane also attended parenting workshops and counselling sessions with other parents of teenage mums. Soon after, she agreed to help raise Doris so Shalon could go back to school. 

Now, Doris is six. She’s growing up happily and doing well in school. Shalon’s now studying to become a graphic designer – finally receiving the support she needs to pursue her dreams. As Claudine says:

“You can see a clear transformation for Shalon. She has her feet on the ground, and a vision for the future.”

Thanks to your support, Viviane, Shalon’s mum, was able to raise her granddaughter, Doris, with pride.
Jean Bizimana/Hope and Homes for Children

Nathalie’s story – protecting her child, pursuing her dreams

“Hope and Homes for Children has helped me to heal from my past and focus on my future. Together, we’re starting a new trajectory.”

Nathalie, 18, is a young woman who we’ve been supporting to raise her daughter, Austin*, as a single mum.  

At eight, Nathalie was left to care for her three younger brothers, all alone. She grew up moving between foster families. Then, at fifteen, a man raped her. Seven months later, Nathalie found out she was pregnant.

“I feared going outside,” she remembers. “Two days later, my foster mother told me to wash my clothes and leave.” As a survivor of rape and unmarried pregnant woman, Nathalie was rejected by her community. She gave birth to Austin on her 16th birthday.

“I was so unhappy. My baby reminded me of how I’d been raped. Of how I was stuck in this situation, instead of in school. She never laughed, because I never laughed. She didn’t know how.”  

After discovering her vulnerable situation, community leaders referred Nathalie to our Teen Mother Project.
Richard Munyaneza/Hope and Homes for Children

Nathalie was invited by Claudine to our Teen Mother Project. She started receiving therapy and attending group counselling sessions. “It felt like a family,” Nathalie says. “After the counselling, I rang my mother and asked for help – could she look after my child so I could do the training? Today, she’s been looking after Austin for over a year.”

With help from our team, Nathalie returned to school to study mechanics. She ended up scoring the highest grades in her class. Twice.  Now, at just 18, she’s working in a garage, paying her way and raising Austin, now two, with confidence. 

“The Teen Mother Project gives financial, psychological and professional help to young women like Nathalie,” says Claudine. “That way, we can help keep families together.”

“I’m so happy with the life I’m living now,” says Nathalie proudly. “I’m able to love my daughter again. Together, we’re on a new trajectory.” 

“Hope and Homes for Children has helped me to heal from my past and focus on my future.”

One of few female mechanics in Kigali, Nathalie’s realised her passion in a male-dominated field.
Richard Munyaneza/Hope and Homes for Children

Thank you for supporting the Teen Mother Project

Since 2021, we’ve supported 252 young women through our Teen Mother Project. Young women like Shalon and Nathalie.

Now, our team is working on closing the last remaining orphanages in Rwanda. As of 2024, there are only nine orphanages still running. We urgently need your support to bring the last remaining children out of these orphanages and back to family.

Will you help bring hope back to family in Rwanda? Donate today.

* Names changed to protect identity.