Christine, now 17-years-old, got married when she was 15 and lost her first child just three days after he was born, most likely due to an umbilical cord infection, when she was 16. She is now seven months pregnant and is also taking care of her three-year-old younger sister Mayron.
Rose, 16-years-old, is currently breastfeeding her first child of five months. The father of the baby never came to take his responsibilities, so Rose’s father is the only one who is taking care of her and the baby as Rose’s mother has already passed way.
Christine dropped out of school in secondary two and Rose dropped out at the end of primary six, both due to a lack of financial availability from their families. Christine and Rose live in a very remote and rural area in the tropical highland forest in Cameroon, making their living through farming cocoa. They represent thousands of teenage mothers in Cameroon.
Many girls in the village drop out of school, having sexual relationships with young boys, and becoming pregnant before the age of 18. They start doing chores around the home and take responsibilities as adults. Girls become women too early, missing their childhood and adolescence.
Africa has the world’s highest rate of adolescent pregnancy, a factor that affects the health, education, and earning potential of millions of African girls. 2014. Bakumba, Cameroon.
About the author:
Paolo Patruno (Italy, 1972) is freelance social-documentary photographer and filmmaker. He traveled throughout Africa over the past ten years, documenting global topics, including health care, human rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment. Since 2011 he is working on a long term project called “BIRTH IS A DREAM” which aims to document and raise awareness about maternal health in Africa, now extended to developed/industrialized countries. He has been published by The Huffington Post, VANITY FAIR, Daily Mail, REFINERY29 and others.