Shame and stress were feelings that Beth Kimailu, 28, was very familiar with when she fell pregnant in her last year of high school in 2008. She was torn between staying in school and getting an abortion.
“I also had to face my mother who had problems of her own being a single parent,” she explains.
She also faced the danger of losing her high school sponsorship and tried to conceal her baby bump, but was eventually smoked out when she developed medical complications.
It is such despair that inspired her to take up the responsibility of helping students who have dropped out of school because they were pregnant get a second chance in life, while ensuring that girls from various areas of Nyeri County don’t opt for abortion.
“It is a dream that I had since I gave birth to my child a few months after sitting for my KCSE exams but came to life in 2013 when I was pregnant with my second child. I had medical complications that resulted in my uterus rupturing,” she says.
She miscarried as a result of the condition, with her doctor’s verdict being that she would not be able to carry a baby to the full term in future. “This made me ask myself questions of what if I had an abortion and never gave birth to my son, right now I would be childless with no hopes of ever being called a mother,” she explains.
In January 2016, she officially started her campaign, where her mission is not just to keep the girls in school but to ensure that they don’t ever think of having an abortion if they fell pregnant.
A chance meeting with a university student at a local clinic was the final push she needed to start her campaign.
“I remember I was attending one of my check-up appointments at the clinic when out of nowhere this lady from the doctor’s office seemed upset by some news. She came and told me that she had just found out that she was pregnant,” she explains.
The lady was a student at a local college.
“I remember her saying that she couldn’t imagine breaking the news to her parents, who had already invested a lot of money in her,” she adds.
So she took it upon herself to comfort her and followed up on her, eventually helping her face her parents with the news. “I had to advise her for days before arranging for a meeting with her parents and as we speak she is already back in college after giving birth.”
Through her campaign dubbed Tabasamu Kenya, she has rescued nearly 50 girls, many of them from high schools and institutions of higher learning who nearly waved goodbye to education due to pregnancy.
NOT THE END OF EDUCATION
During her campaigns, she visits and talks to parents of the affected girls, trying to convincing them to take their daughters back to school after delivery.
“My message has always been that getting pregnant is not the end of education for a girl,” she says.
Apart from that, she has also been helping both male and female students who are out of school due to lack of school fees. She works in partnership with political leaders to ensure they stay in school.
Beth’s son is now seven years old and she is proud that she had graduated with a bachelor’s degree in human resources from the University of Nairobi.
She currently operates from Nyeri and is available in the rest of the country virtually through social media channels.