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Life as a teenage girl

Improving nutrition of girls and mothers through photographs

In mid-July 2018, Christian Aid, alongside our partner the Transmara Rural Development Programme, trained seven pregnant teenage girls and six teenage mums in basic photography.

These girls are involved in a project that aims to improve nutrition amongst teenagers in Narok, Kenya.

Ivine Chepkorir, one of the participants of the Picture Power training, practises her skills

Ivine Chepkorir, one of the participants of the Picture Power training, practises her skills

Photo: Paula Plaza

What is Picture Power

Since 2016, Christian Aid has been developing Picture Power, a methodology which allows participants in communities where we work to document the impact of our work as well as the challenges they face.

Over a week, participants are trained in basic photography to help them develop visual literacy and the technical skills to take a photo that tells a story.

The participants do not receive any instructions about what images they should capture. They chose and decide what to photograph.

Once they have taken their photos, each participants chooses their favourite shots and tells the story behind each one. All of their work is then shown at community exhibition.

The photos are the channel used by the participants to communicate the issues affecting them. The exhibition provides a space for dialogue about the issues raised.

The girls’ stories reveal some of the challenges they face

Humiliation

‘This is my grandmother, my father’s mother. When I gave birth to my baby my parents sent me away, but my grandmother hosted me.'

This is my grandmother, my father’s mother. When I gave birth to my baby my parents sent me away, but my grandmother hosted me. I no longer live with her. My parents forgave me after I gave birth and I now live with them

Naomi Chepngetich Terer

Lack of nutritious foods

‘They had this meat at my neighbour’s house, if I had money I could have bought beef and eaten it with my brothers and sisters at home, like other people do.’

They had this meat at my neighbour’s house, if I had money I could have bought beef and eaten it with my brothers and sisters at home, like other people do

Faith Chepkoech

No income

‘This photo shows a lady who was forced out and isolated and didn’t have any resources so she decided to make ropes to sell so she is able to feed the baby. I don’t get enough food, so I sell rope so I can feed myself.’

This photo shows a lady who was forced out and isolated and didn’t have any resources so she decided to make ropes to sell so she is able to feed the baby. I don’t get enough food, so I sell rope so I can feed myself

Joan Chepngetich

Powerlessness

‘My brother bought this land and gave it to my mum. The field has maize and sweet potatoes. I feel like planting, but I’m not allowed to. My mother is willing to give me some land, but my brother prevents it because he says I should go and live with the father of my baby.’

My brother bought this land and gave it to my mum. The field has maize and sweet potatoes. I feel like planting, but I’m not allowed to. My mother is willing to give me some land, but my brother prevents it because he says I should go and live with the father of my baby

Ivine Chepkorir

No schooling

‘This is a photo of a girl wearing her school uniform. It reminds me when I was in school. I have a child so I can’t continue my education, but the father of my child is able to go to school.’

This is a photo of a girl wearing her school uniform. It reminds me when I was in school. I have a child so I can’t continue my education, but the father of my child is able to go to school

Picoty Chepngetich

Poor diets

‘This is a family meal, a mix of maize and beans, sometimes I feel like cooking them and frying them nicely, but I can’t afford oil and other things to make it nice. This is very hard for a baby to chew, so my baby can’t eat it.’

This is a family meal, a mix of maize and beans, sometimes I feel like cooking them and frying them nicely, but I can’t afford oil and other things to make it nice. This is very hard for a baby to chew, so my baby can’t eat it

Faith Chebet

Exploitation

‘I took this photo because it reminded me of the money my boyfriend used to get me to sleep with him.’

I took this photo because it reminded me of the money my boyfriend used to get me to sleep with him

Mercy Cherono

The girls presented their photos at a community-wide exhibition attended by 600 people including well respected and influential people in the community such as teachers, priests and chiefs.

A teacher described some of the photos as ‘very disturbing’.

Having highlighted some of their issues, the community as a whole made commitments to improve the situation of teenage mums and pregnant girls.

Some of the commitments made by community leaders included:

  1. Involve boys to help prevent pregnancies
  2. Foster greater communication between parents and children and for parents to try to meet the needs of their children
  3. Educate the community about the law which punishes sex with under age girls
  4. The provision of vocational training for the girls, to provide alternative sources of income

Find out more about our Communications for Development work, which helps people tell their own stories in their own way and the impact of the Picture Power project in Nigeria