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Young, beautiful, intelligent and naïve!

I would like to share my story with you, as to how I messed up in my youth. I got pregnant at the age of 16 and I was in Form 3 (Grade 10) and close to writing my final exams.

I was duped into having sex with my boyfriend and I ended up pregnant, this was my first time, in the process I was promised marriage. Had I known what or know now, I would have opened a case of date rape, but at the time even reporting rape was a humoungous task. He then denied partenity and I was left to raise the baby alone with my family's help. He never once hepled or contributed to help raise our child, he never even said one word to his son his entire life until he passed away late last year.

I went back to School a year later, two years later I passed my Matric and wanted to study Medicine. I tried unsuccessfully to get a bursary to study, but failed. I tried to get a job, I failed. I only managed to get a job six years later and by then I had a second child. Also, during that time, I had gone back to Night School to try and improve my chance of getting accepted into Medical School and being financed, my mother lost her job and I was forced to abandon my dream and focus on helping the family out. By the time my mother found work again, I was heavily committed financially.

I got engaged, lost my husband again, he was shot dead. After some years, things started to look promising and I went back again to School in 2010 and again tragedy struck. I had to drop out again.

I survived all these obstacles because I remained positive and focused, not for once did I lose focus, but the gist of the maatter was, I had removed my foot on the pedal, by allowing a boy who clearly had no ambitions in life to take advantage of me. Yound girls in my community are subjected to the same fate, unplanned pregnancies, being dubbed mainly by Nigerians, Mozambicans and Zimbabwen's(no offence) and some of the are lured into prostitution and drugs. Most of this happens due to lack of funding. Media plays a role as well into misleading our young girls and women.

Some of the programmes they watch on Television, encourages them to think it's a great life, their vision become blurred between fiction and reality. This is mainly caused by a lack of mentors, lack of funds, death of parents due to HIV/Aids and lack of funding to further studies. Also the fact that the Government has introduced Child Maintance grant even for girls as young as 16 contributes. I often organise workshops in our Church in the community and talk to these young girls and caution them about the dangers they are facing and exposing themselves to. Some are in Tertiary but others have fallen along the wayside, hence I am starting an NPO to assist these young girls in terms of going back to School to further their education, and I am hoping to include the boys as well, but my focus is more on girls, as they are the ones left with babies in their arms and their future and livelihood destroyed.

My family was impacted by my actions in that, I could have been in a better position to provide for them. Had I focused on education and avoided being involved with boys to that level, I had already mentioned. The lack of funds to further my education even after I had overcome my hurdle, didn't make matters easier. It took a long time for us to be at a level that we could call tolerable or comfortable(although not exactly).

I basically survived by doing odd course, though they were not so much close to what I had had in mind, they helped to keep me focused ond concerned about helping others. At work, while I was still employed, I was sent for a Peer Educator course.
For girls in my community, the availability of mentors, funding and guidance, could bring a noticeable change in their lives. I have a few that I have assisted in terms of registration fees, from my own pocket, but that is not enough, as they are struggling in terms of accomodation, pocket money and transport. Some were fortunate to stay as Residents in their respective Schools, but others were not so fortunate.

There are Government sponsored funds(NASFAS) but these are not easy to access and this causes a lot of dropouts and these girls become targets of drug dealers and pimps. If ever I become successful in raising funding, I hope to help as many girls as possible.

This story was written for World Pulse’s Girls Transform the World Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring girls greater access to education which will transform their lives, their families, and communities. The Girls Transform Campaign elicits insightful content from young women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as women, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
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Comments

lydiagcallano's picture

Simply admirable!

Loreta, I am awed by your courage and determination to hurdle each of your challenges. You are a good example for girls and women who are in dire straits due to unwanted pregnancy, poverty or other problems. Thank you for speaking out candidly. I am humbled by your own humility.

Ma. Lydia G. Callano
Iloilo, Philippines
+63 33 3158137 or 5138830

loretta's picture

My pleasure.

I am humbled by your compliment. I have learnt to share personal experiences with others to help them learn from someone who has experienced, lived and triumphed over the odds.

There is life beyond some hardship if one is still alive.

Thank you, God bless you.

Loretta.

A successful woman is one who can build a firm foundation with the bricks others throw at her. Author Unkown.

Maya Norton's picture

Loretta

I admire your courage in sharing your personal journey, Loretta. Glad you found WorldPulse.

Best of lucking in furthering yourself and your children,

~ Maya

loretta's picture

Thanks Maya

God bless you for your blessings and good wishes.

Love

Loretta.

A successful woman is one who can build a firm foundation with the bricks others throw at her. Author Unkown.

Maya Norton's picture

And to you. :) ~ Maya

And to you. :)

~ Maya

Stacey Rozen's picture

Loretta, your bravery in

Loretta, your bravery in telling us your story is so vital. I know so many young teen girls in our country that are now mothers and dropping out of school. They need to hear your story. Keep sharing it in any way you can.

Creatively,
Stacey

loretta's picture

Thank you Stacey.

I will tell it and of other young girls, I appreciate that you see any relevance in my story. That was the objective.

I had been quite busy, I could have already posted other stories.

Very grateful, thanks again.

Loretta.

Loretta.

A successful woman is one who can build a firm foundation with the bricks others throw at her. Author Unkown.

Aminah's picture

You strength is commendable

Getting pregnant at 16 and raising a child without even the presence of the father are just totally challenging situations.
I am so sorry it happened the way it did. But I guess we can't cry over spilled milk.

I am so happy to know that you never gave up. You tried and tried until you succeeded. That's the spirit that keeps us women going.

Wish you all the best in your endeavors to educate young girls before they fall prey to careless men.

All the best.
Aminah

Salaam
Aminah

loretta's picture

Soothing words.

Thank you my friend, what happened back then almost broke my spirit, being young, ambitious and to be let down that way, was really painful. I swore to myself that he(boyfriend) would never see me grovel at his feet or see me broken, because I strongly believe that's exactly what men want women to become; broken.

I told my story to educate girls out there, that, it's not something new, but what has been happening all along, so they should be careful and stay focused and reap the rewards.

Mine came Aminah, my revenge to be exact, he never amounted to anything. He died alone and lonely. Not that I am laughing, I am way too decent for that, but in truth, he got his just rewards, he wanted to remain a boy for ever, irresponsible. And that's exactly how things turned out.

Thank you for your encouragement, God bless you my friend.

Loretta.

Loretta.

A successful woman is one who can build a firm foundation with the bricks others throw at her. Author Unkown.

Greengirl's picture

Dear Loretta

I am touched by your story and inspired by the fact that you stayed determined to get an education in spite of all the odds that confronted you. It's nice also to know that you are paving way for younger girls to get it right. I wish you the very best and pray that you achieve your vision. Keep up the good work!

Greengirl.

loretta's picture

Thank you

Thank you my friend for your response, women have an unquenchable spirit, a fire in their bellies and a will to survive.

I will try and work hard in making sure that girls get their education.

Thanks again, have a lovely day.

Loretta.

Loretta.

A successful woman is one who can build a firm foundation with the bricks others throw at her. Author Unkown.

Nadz's picture

You are so brave

I am amazed by your story Loretta, you must be proud of yourself, you are a survivor.

Life is just for living

loretta's picture

I tried!

It wasn't easy back then, but I have survived.

Thank you sister.

Loretta.

A successful woman is one who can build a firm foundation with the bricks others throw at her. Author Unkown.

wizamamat's picture

Standing tall above obstacles

Loretta
This is a very touching and inspiring story. Thank you for sharing your personal experience, by putting yourself out there, you have touched me in a positive way. I am glad that you did not let your past limit you, you are a brave and
strong woman. I hope every South African girl that you inspire learn to stand tall above obstacles.

loretta's picture

Thank you very, very much.

I am honoured by your encouragement, not only in South Africa, if I can help it. But the world over, much there a smarter girls out there, some smarter than I was back there, some really need us, need to hear our stories that boys/men will always be cruel and insensitive.

Keep well, lotsa love.

Loretta.

A successful woman is one who can build a firm foundation with the bricks others throw at her. Author Unkown.

hemrajan's picture

your indomitable spirit

Dear Loretta

I admire your spirit and continued determination to move forward despite all the hurdles that life has placed in front of you. It is amazing that you went back to school a year after giving birth!
Despite all the disappointments you have faced, you have continued to push yourself to move forward.
Not only that, you are trying to find ways to help others to prevent them from facing the same struggles that you have.

I wish you continued strength and determination in your journey!

Asha

Carpe Diem

loretta's picture

thank you Asha

That is called determination, an unquenchable spirit. It was not easy being a mother, a child and a student. It took it's toll on me, but being strong psychologically helped me.

I love people and sometimes I feel like, I could transfer some of my strength to my children, young girls, abused women and those who simply give up. Unfortunately I can't but I can be there for them if they allow me and willing to hold my hand.

Thanks for your kind words. God bless you.

Loretta.

A successful woman is one who can build a firm foundation with the bricks others throw at her. Author Unkown.

j3ssm3ss's picture

Great title!!

I think you hit the nail on the head with your title Loretta... at that age we are so vulnerable. Naivety and innocence should be a gift and part of growing up, not a trap to ensnare us with responsibility beyond our years. Your journey sounds like a very difficult one but I'm so inspired by your tenacity and positive outlook. Reading all the assignments on world pulse, yours among them, just makes me realise how much our attitude has to do with our successes and failures, whatever our situation. I think it's amazing that you are drawing on all these experiences to help other girls in similar situations.
I thought this article bore a lot of similarities, maybe you can share your experiences and advise each other...

http://worldpulse.com/node/68930

I hope everything goes well with your projects and you manage to find funding in future. Keep going and keep writing Loretta!

loretta's picture

Hope is an eternal spring!

That is what I always treasured in my heart, HOPE. That no matter what I will thriumph.

I used to keep a journal, where I wrote every emotion I felt and months later, I would go back to the first entries and re-visit my pain and my vision and that somehow got me going. I stopped writing in the late 90's. I told myself that I had to let go of this crutch and draw from inner strength.

Thank you very much. I hope you get to read my response to the other story.

Loretta.

A successful woman is one who can build a firm foundation with the bricks others throw at her. Author Unkown.

j3ssm3ss's picture

Diary

Loretta I know exactly what you mean about the diary thing I kept trying for years to keep one, but in the end reading back over negativities gives me no pleasure - Looking to the future is much better :) Good luck with the next assignment I'll take a look if I can!

loretta's picture

Sure :)

Once you get started, it's difficult to stop. Looking back, it's about retracing your steps abd checking against your progress. For me it was therapeutic.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Loretta.

A successful woman is one who can build a firm foundation with the bricks others throw at her. Author Unkown.

edelgros's picture

Loretta, The title of this

Loretta,

The title of this piece is perfect. I admire your resilience and how hard you have worked to overcome these barriers. I think it's important to remember, though, not to blame the victim and not to be so hard on yourself. You're right that these young girls should avoid such situations and should focus more on their schooling to help with the long term, but don't forget that so many of those things are because of pressures from society, not just individual bad decisions. Keep empowering girls the way you are and teach them that they're not bad people, they aren't stupid or naive, but that they, like you, can work to overcome the pressures and barriers society puts in front of them.

Liz

loretta's picture

Thank you Liz

Yes, that was just a corner I had to turn, slippery as it was.

The lesson should start from Peer pressure, which I am imparting always, Media and Society. The mindset that needs to be dealt with is that of both young girls and boys. In reality boys are the ones who are under pressure, to prove their manhood, by having a number of trophies(girls) under their belts to brag about.

What they don't realise is that they are taking a lot more that virginity from a girl, way, way much more. And the victims are left with more than enough to deal with.

Thanks for your response.

Loretta.

A successful woman is one who can build a firm foundation with the bricks others throw at her. Author Unkown.

jacquesato's picture

You're setting an example

Dear Loretta:
I think you've had a very difficult journey. It's very easy to make mistakes when you're young and don't have proper guidance or role models. It's great you're trying to help girls to find themselves and become independent and strong women. I wish you all the best :))
Regards,

Jacqueline

loretta's picture

Thank you Jacqueline.

I am really trying my best and I hope I succeed, nothing would make me more happier and successful.

Thanks again, God bless you. :)

Loretta.

A successful woman is one who can build a firm foundation with the bricks others throw at her. Author Unkown.

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