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.