In Zambia, close to one-third of teenage girls have given birth to a child or been pregnant. Less than half will re-enroll in school after giving birth. Stigma in communities often isolates young mothers from their families and peers, and increased vulnerability to poverty, HIV/AIDS, early marriage and abuse further restricts their ability to achieve their rights.
Lubuto takes a multigenerational approach to meeting the needs and promoting the rights of out-of-school young mothers. The Family Literacy program serves teenage mothers and their children together, offering foundational English language and literacy instruction for mothers and early childhood literacy programming for children aged 0-8. At the Mumuni Library, the Communities for Change program promotes the empowerment of mothers through a Family Makerspace, where instruction in income-generating skills including agriculture, sewing, technology, and the arts increases their economic independence and ability to support their children.
Yet for many young mothers, the most powerful benefit of visiting the libraries and participating in programs is finding--often for the first time--a space where they are welcomed without stigma and supported by their peers. “They are encouraged that they have a future. They now have that hope which was stolen,” says Natasha, age 22, describing the impact of Lubuto Libraries on the lives of her friends. “Here is a girl who gets pregnant at grade nine [and] all hope gone. Then someone just mushrooms from somewhere and tells them you can still go back to school even if you have a child. Hey, that’s amazing.”