top of page

#ChildNotBride: 15 Year-Old Clementine’s Journey Into Motherhood By Becca Afolayan

I wonder how one draws the line in this field of work?  I remembered yelling repeatedly to Jackie yesterday about her father’s wife Clementine. A bride younger than Jackie. How old is Jackie you might wonder? Well, she clocked 17 years sometimes in March. She just completed her JSCE awaiting her results before furthering her education.

Jackie has received help from our team too many times she has also being our community helper in practice.

One of our major partnering organization even invited her for a one-week Health education training which she enjoyed so much. Her father gave consent without thinking twice cos he wants her to study, get the right kind of exposure so she won’t be like the majority of girls within their community.So back to Clementine she is just 15 years of age, she has been pregnant twice, unfortunately, she lost her first child before we came into to the picture. We were one of her greatest companions during her second pregnancy.

Her husband (Jackie’s father) also one of the strongest advocates for the work we do in the Sogunro community brought her in earlier this year. He stated that she needs quality care though he never mentioned clearly that she was his bride.

Clementine can’t even communicate in any other language but Egun. It was while getting her health history with the help of an interpreter that we found out she has lost a baby before.  We took her in, paid close attention to her. Each member of the team (clinical &non clinical) wondered who found her old enough to be his bride. We ignored the reservations and focused more on saving her and her unborn child this time around.

Clementine was very punctual and kept all her appointments each time we were in the community. She had different scares from skin reaction to malaria but we were there all the way. One of our volunteers had to take her to a primary health center at some point. We, however, found out that Jackie’s father is also her husband when an older member of the team just needed to make a follow-up visit because of her complaints. Well, we were shocked but more grateful that he was willing to take our recommendation to ensure that Clementine is well catered to.

Our lead Doctor on seeing her on the 7th of September emphasized the need for her to have a pelvic scan because of her age and size. He insisted it is done as soon as possible because she was close to term. A message we passed on to her father through our community volunteer and Jackie.

Fast forward to our last visit on the 5th of October, surprised that she hadn’t delivered she still waited patiently to be seen. This time we knew it was really really I kept on yelling to Jackie please don’t take chances please take her to a primary health center this week.

She must not have this baby at home. It was my nursery rhymes to Jackie infact a lullaby except it wasn’t her bedtime.  I received a call on the 6th of October at about 7;18 am from Jackie saying Clementine was in labor I asked for how long she said since about 5 am. Where is she now I asked she said the primary health center was not opened so they rushed her to another clinic run by French people. She assured me it was a place with skilled health worker. Well, I had no option but to believe her and trust her judgment. I offered up a prayer to God please let her deliver safely, please give the medical personnel the wisdom to proceed please no loss of her life or her unborn child dear God. Some minutes later Jackie called again that Clementine was speaking rudely, calling Jackie’s Father’s name cos he had to go get something. Jackie sounded confused and annoyed at the same time. This time I assured her not to get angry but to stand by Clementine’s side to comfort her, hold her hands rub her back. She is a girl I said who is in pain the strongest pain a woman has to endure except she is not a woman she is a child, she is a girl who is now a mother. I told Jackie to remember you are older than her just support her. That’s all she needs.i assured her that I am praying with her and trusting God that she will be safe in childbirth and both won’t be lost.

She called back at 8:01 am that she just delivered infact she asked “can you hear the baby’s voice’ I exclaimed yes. I went on bended knees in gratitude to God that none was lost. We did not lose two children the same day a mother was born. We did not lose either child on this day.

I got another call from Jackie at 12:05 on the postpartum progress and another at 2: 30 from Jackie’s dad that Clementine had a baby boy he expressed his gratitude for all Alabiamo has been to them and prayed for us explaining his excitement.

This story just needed to be told.if you were able to read this up till now I hope this gets you thinking a lot of questions and issues around this. This is just one of the many stories of real-life issues and people’s daily lives some are not written, some are not told. They exist they are real.


bottom of page