The menace of teenage pregnancy does not only kill the future prospects of young women,it also makes life difficult for them. Early pregnancy has a number of adverse effects on girls, from health problems, financial constraints, humiliation and disappointing their parents or guardians as well as having to drop out of school.
Most of the teenage pregnancy victims are often still in school and in most cases are forced to abandon their education. The subsequent lack of education often results in these young mothers not being able to find proper jobs to take care of themselves and their children, hence locking them in the cycle of poverty.
In some situations, the teenage mother decides to continue with her education, although it becomes difficult to juggle between the classroom and caring for the baby. But with the help of their parents these young mothers persist in their quest to complete their matric and eventually overcome adversity.
Some of the learner mothers enrolled at Ella Du Plessis shared their journey and how they dealt with becoming teenage mothers.
One of those was *Maria Thomas who narrated how she felt pregnant at 19.
“It was in January 2016 when I found out that I was pregnant and I had just returned to school because I was improving on my grade10 results. When I found out that I was pregnant I was contemplating whether I should continue with school or drop out. I thought of what my parents and friends would think of me. I had so much on my mind but then I just had to come to school because I have been waiting for so long to continue with my studies.”
Like any other parent, Maria says her parents were also disappointed in her “especially my elder sister who she said was very supportive of her.”
“They[parents] yelled at me but later on they supported me. Although I did not find it difficult, I faced the humiliation of walking around pregnant, the looks, teasing and all. It is embarrassing when you walk around pregnant while dressed in a school uniform. It is really not easy and every time I went to bed I had to think and ask myself questions like how did I let this happen? Or why did I let this happen? Why me? It was not easy,” she said with teary eyes
Another learner, Shanice Garoes said she noticed her pregnancy when soon after writing her grade 10 examinations.
She said “it was a very difficult period for me because I had difficulties telling my parents considering that my mom always saw me as a good girl.” Garoes also said that she somehow didn’t want the baby because her mother and the boyfriend had suggested that she abort the baby. However her elder sister advised her to keep the baby and promised to take care of her.
“I really wanted to keep the baby but since everybody was telling me to do an abortion I thought about it a lot like maybe I should keep the baby or maybe I should just do as they say. I also thought about what my friends would say because I was this popular girl at school and I was headed to grade 11. Nonetheless,things turned out well even though my child’s father is not really involved in my baby’s life. My mother is also very supportive.”
Another teenager *Victoria Wilhelm who was raised by her uncle since the age of three says that her story was very different. “When I fell pregnant I was 17 years old and in grade 10. I noticed the pregnancy in December when it was already three months along. The following year I went back to school to continue with grade 10 without telling my guardians. I was just waiting for them to ask but they didn’t notice anything.
“As time went on I became very moody and my class teacher would ask me why I was gaining weight but I would just brush her off. When I gave birth my guardians told me to go live with my mother as they could no longer support me while I have a child. The baby is now with my mom on the farm,” she says.
*Lydia Mathews, who spent most of her life in the village,says she was a good girl before she moved to Windhoek to continue with her schooling at Jacob Marenga Secondary School. Although she started dating while she was still living the village, it became worse when they both her and the boyfriend moved to Windhoek. Lydia shares that her boyfriend would text her to go to him even during the school hours. So she would only go to school to be marked present and would later bunk school.
“My boyfriend noticed the pregnancy first but I was convinced he was wrong. I did not tell anyone until my step mother noticed when I was six months along. I continued going to school although I couldn’t write my final exams because that was the time that I had to give birth. When I gave birth my aunt promised to take care of the child but later on she also got pregnant. So I had to stay home to take care of my child. I stayed at home for two years before I came back to continue with school,” she narrated.
Care and support
*Justina Kavita tells us how she found out that she was pregnant last year after her August holiday. She says that her pregnancy did not stop her from continuing with school. “When the pregnancy became visible some people advised my mom to keep me home but I thought I was going to become lazy and forget about school. So I continued with school and I gave birth on the 11th of May this year. Although I am still breastfeeding my mom is taking care of the baby,” she said.
*Elizabeth Amunyela(18) says the relationship between herself and the child’s father is strong and that she is grateful for his support. “He encourages me to continue with school. He also felt that the baby would distract my studies so he now lives with the baby and I only get to visit them during the holidays.”
Meanwhile, 21-year-old *Desirie Michael who is currently in grade 12 says “throughout my pregnancy I learnt that God always makes a way.”
“No matter how hard the situation, there is always a positive outcome of any situation because we often ask why me? At times you might feel God has rejected or forsaken you, but rest assured that we will all have to face tests in our lives. God will never let you face something that you will never be unable to overcome,” she said.
“My advice to teenagers is that if you fall pregnant during your teen years, no matter how hard it seems you should never consider abortion because your parents will eventually forgive you, but God will never forgive you if you take someone’s life,” she concluded