‘Teenage pregnancy cut short dreams of becoming a Pilot’, says Shilole

Friday June 12 2020

 

By The Citizen Reporter

Dar es Salaam. She is famously known as “Shilole” a Tanzanian artist but if tables were to be turned she would probably be known as Zuwena Muhamed a pilot.
As a young girl growing up in Igunga, Tabora, she always dreamed of becoming a pilot, flying big planes. “But all my dreams shattered when I got pregnant at the age of 14, I had to leave school and raise a child while I was still a child as well,” says Shilole.
She says her experience as a teenage mother was not easy, she almost died during my labor because she was too young to give birth and biologically her body was not fully developed enough for motherhood.
 “I am grateful that even as my career changed from a pilot to an artist/ entrepreneur who is now  a multi- award winning influential artist with successful businesses but as a mother, sister and a role model I wouldn’t want any adolescent girl to go through the same experience as I did,” she says.
She is now a sole ambassador and influencer of Kipepeo campaign a platform where inspirational messages are communicated to influence adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) behavioural changes in educating them about early pregnancy and gender-based violence.
“I have used my voice and shared my childhood experience as a teenage mother to over 44,000 students in 91 schools in eight regions that the campaign has successfully reached out.”
The regions where the campaign has gone include Morogoro, Tanga, Arusha, Singida, Dodoma, Iringa, Mbeya and Njombe.
The Kipepeo campaign is an initiated by the Ministry of Health through the National AIDS Control Program (NACP), in partnership with the Benjamin Mkapa foundation and Global Fund under Clouds Media.
“Being one of the ambassadors under this platform I have used the opportunity to share my profile and testimonial stories to adolescents and young people on the effects of early pregnancies.”
She adds: My call to AGYW is to protect their dreams and avoid risky behavior that can destroy their dreams and be open to their parents and guardians.
The Ministry of Health has provided a toll-free number 117 and another 15017-text message and telephone advice about early pregnancy and other issues in particular.
She says the risks of early pregnancies’  is still  high among young girls and she urges parents during this period of COVID-19 to spend time with their adolescent girls to share with them practical skills on the related personal health issues in order to protect their dreams and visions.
“They should also be educated on proper hygienic procedures like the use of hand sanitizers to avoid COVID-19 infections. As an ambassador I still dedicate my time in conveying messages to young people through my social media platforms.”
She says she is eager to continue using her platform in sharing personal experience to prevent early pregnancies among young girls under the Kipepeo project.