By Pammy Godoy, Rotary Club of Mandaluyong-Pasig-San Juan, Metro Manila, Philippines
In 2006, I took part in a Group Study Exchange (GSE) to Argentina. It was a unique cultural and vocational exchange opportunity funded by Rotary International which allowed me to travel outside of the Philippines for the first time, learn about Argentinian culture, and interact with Argentinian youth about their issues in relation to relationships, sexuality, and teen pregnancies.
A year later, I joined the Rotary Club of Mandaluyong-Pasig-San Juan, which gave me
a platform to realize my dream of reaching urban poor communities and conducting medical missions and interactive awareness sessions for maternal and child health.
From 2010-2013, with funding support from District 2680, we enabled 100 couples to space or limit the number of their children, trained 24 health workers on family planning counseling, and supported 27 college students to become peer educators and teach other youth how to resist peer pressure and avoid risky behavior.
In 2014, as a way of paying it forward, I decided to write a book about my own story, struggles and lessons learned as a teenage mom at 18. The World Health Organization reports that about 16 million girls aged 15-19 give birth every year. In the United States, the 2013 teen birth rate was 27 births per 1,000 teen girls, and there were 274,641 births to teen girls. The U.S. rates of teen childbearing remain far higher than in other comparable countries. According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, teen childbearing is costing the U.S. taxpayers at least $9.4 billion annually. In the Philippines, 24 babies are delivered by teenage mothers every hour.
I’m hoping that by sharing my hard-learned lessons with teen girls, they may be empowered to make informed decisions about their relationships, sexuality, and future. I believe that doing so is a way of living out Rotary’s motto of Service Above Self and fulfilling my goal of empowering women and girls.
- Connect with Pammy Godoy on Facebook
- Learn more about how Rotary improves access to medical services for mothers and their children