Teenage pregnancy in Namibia is a topic no one can remain apathetic about. It remains a worrisome topic. There have been several discussions in which teenage pregnancies were highlighted and proposed solutions are at best a varied assortment of ideas.
And while the country can’t seem to settle on the agreed solutions, an increase in the teen pregnancy statistics are observed. But we seemingly forget to engage the teenagers who are involved are rarely offered a platform to speak about their experience of being a student mother still trying to balance school, a boyfriend who vanished as soon as the pregnancy was disclosed and a nursing infant.
It is obvious that pregnancy occurs as a result of unprotected sexual intercourse.
This publication sought to lift the lid on this apparent mystery and we spoke to a few teenage mothers from Ella Du Plessis High School on their journey to motherhood. The golden thread throughout the story addresses the phenomenon of the missing father. Only in a limited number of cases is the father present.
*Names have been altered to protect the identity of the student mothers.
Starting of the discussion was a very bright and outspoken twenty year old, *Anna who fell pregnant when she was sixteen. Anna who is no longer in touch with her daughters father sat down as she explained how he promised her the world, marriage and happiness before he found out that she was expecting.
That bubble lasted only for a short while and upon her disclosure, the father of her now three year old daughter promptly denied responsibility. This was clearly because he did not want to face the reality of fatherhood and its accompanying challenges and responsibilities and he bluntly stated that he must have an abortion. He was seemingly more concerned about what society would say.
Heart broken and left with nothing but broken promises, Anna decided to oppose the father of her daughters’ suggestion to abort and decided to keep the baby. That decision signalled the beginning of her struggles.
“He left me and I never heard from him for the duration of my pregnancy, my family turned their back on me and my father chased me out of the house. So I moved in with a friend, it was very difficult for me because I felt all alone and I did not know who to confide in. It got to a point that on the day I gave birth I went to the hospital on my own and gave birth on my own with no one by my side” she laments.
After giving birth Anna had to give up her dream of returning to school for about two years because she had to look after her daughter as there was no one else who would do to it for her.
“I then decided that I could not sit at home anymore and watch my life go to waste, so I returned to school in 2017. This was the best thing I could have ever done for myself and my daughter. She motivates me, and I am doing my best to try and finish school so that I can create a better life for her”.
If there was anything that Anna would have done differently, it would have been waiting to find a guy who was matured enough, but stated that despite everything she has been through she does not regret having her daughter.
“I love the father of my child but I do not see a future with him”. The classroom got silent upon *Sarah’s utterance of these words. At a mere 19 year old Sarah who admits to remaining sexually active with the father of her child shares how she met her baby’s father during the school holiday.
And of course everything was great until she discovered that she was pregnant. Surprisingly he accepted the pregnancy but it came with conditions. Conditions he used as an excuse to constantly cheat on her with girls who were much older than her, girls who were enrolled in university which made her feel inferior.
“Nothing has changed even after I gave birth, he still cheats on me and at times with my friends which hurts me a lot. At times I tell myself to walk away but that just proves to be difficult because I do not want it to seem like I have lost him to his other girlfriends” she said.
Sarah further explained that the love she has for him has gotten so bad that she still continues to sleep with him, noting that she does so because she is on family planning.
Sadly for Sarah she is yet to have that adult voice that tells her that in some cases family planning can fail and that she can find her self pregnant once again if she does not chose to put herself first by letting the father of her child go. She however still has dreams of finishing school in order to better provide for her child.
19 year old *Emily currently has no idea where the father of her daughter is. Teary eyed she remembers when she found out she was pregnant, the idea of having an abortion came to mind because this was something her elder sister had done and she considered it for a fleeting moment.
“When I found out I was pregnant, I told the father of my child that I did not want to keep the baby. Things however changed and I ended up keep the pregnancy, my mother was supportive and she got me through it all. My kids’ father however left town and I am yet to hear from him” she noted.
During Emily’s pregnancy she met another guy who was quite supportive of her and he took on the responsibility of looking after her and her now one year old daughter. She highlighted that the new guy that she has been seeing for three years now has become her saving grace because he encourages her to do better in school.
“I look at this guy differently because it’s been three years and we have not yet slept together which I feel is good. I am happy that I am finally over my baby’s father because I know that there is a better world waiting for me out there” said Emily.
Twenty year old *Lucia, who is a new mother after having given birth last month revealed that she was still in an on and off relationship with the father of her child.
Lucia who is neighbours with her baby’s father occasionally still sees him but described her pregnancy journey having been rather difficult when it came to school.
“I am very hyper active and used to be an LRC. I had many people speak badly about me behind my back which was hurtful but I still had to push myself to come to school. I faced so many challenges during my pregnancy and there are many others that I still face now.
Coming to school every morning I always find myself exhausted every morning because I have to stay up late at night to put my baby to sleep. Coming to school tired means that I’ll find it difficult to concentrate in class and get my school work done” she noted.
This however is not the case for her child father who is now a third year student in University. In what she terms as unfair, she notes that she is now left with the difficulties of having to look after a new born, make sure she is actively present in school among other things – unlike the father of her child.
If it’s one thing that these young females have learned, it is the importance of putting their education before anything else. A few still continue to struggle with truly loving themselves, and tend to search love from the father of their kids, and others have now come to terms with the reality of being single mothers.
Life skills teacher, Delphia Jimmy has been a teacher at the school for five years, and pleased to announce that this year alone she has only encountered one pregnancy on the school premises. This she notes is an indication that the youngsters are now better aware of consequences that come with falling pregnant at a young age.
“Pregnancy rates have dropped drastically here, the previous years I would usually sit with about 10 pregnant girls in a year but this year I have one sat down with one. This is the case because I run a boys and a girls club here that is very active, it plays a very important role when it comes to teenage pregnancies.
Most of the time I will keep these kids very busy after school. Occasionally I have invited NGOs to come and speak to these children and I have established a camp that raises awareness around teenage pregnancies and HIV/AIDs” said Jimmy. Jimmy urged other school teachers to start these sorts of classes with their students.
“There are a few schools that have already started and they have told me that it has really helped the students thus far. For those that have not started yet, I think its high time that they do because teaching on these issues during one period on class is not enough” concluded Jimmy.