WINDHOEK - Maria was born in Windhoek 19 years ago and has been staying with her mother and siblings ever since. When I first met Maria three years ago, she was six months pregnant and seriously affected by the new developments.
Today I paid a visit to Maria’s homestead. I wanted to find out how she was coping with her baby after giving birth three years ago. The beautiful bouncing baby immediately caught my attention and quickly I asked the mother if I could hold her. She smiled and helped me put the child on my lap.
As I started playing around with the little one, my mind quickly trickled with the past events of Maria. I was eager to know how her road to recovery was. Taking the clock some years back, still young and looking forward to a brighter future, Maria discovered that she was pregnant before she could finish her Grade 12. Unexpectedly and shocked she suddenly lost her self-esteem and her boyfriend immediately disappeared after hearing the news. “My boyfriend left me after I got pregnant. That week when I told him, he switched off the phone. He was nowhere to be found. I never saw him until today. After I gave birth, I thought he would come to see the baby and give support. But now I guess he is afraid to take the responsibilities of being a father,” narrated Maria.
The embarrassment Maria went through from both her family and friends at school somehow discouraged her to keep the child. “Abortion was the first thing I had decided to do. I started having thoughts of getting rid of the child. I wanted to give up on school as well. It is very hard to be a single teenage mom. I used to have sleepless nights. I struggle to get milk for the baby. I faced some challenges here and there, but I work my way through it with or without my support system (family),” said Maria.
The stigma of being pregnant left Maria stressed and unable to speak to her friends. “I have lost most of my friends. The decision to keep the baby was not welcomed by everyone. After my visit to Regain Trust I thought about it and decided to keep my baby. I just felt that it was an innocent child that did not ask to be here, and I should take responsibility for my life. Today I found more joy again. My son is my motivation and even on my weak days he keeps me on my toes. In whatever I do, I try to do it to the best of my ability because I know I have someone looking up to me,” said Maria.
Maria managed to give birth and kept her child. The only fear her mother had was that Maria would drop out of school since she did not finish Grade 12. “I finished my Grade 12 now and my mother encouraged and motivated me so much, now I am studying to become a paramedic,” she said.
In 2015, the department of statistics and population studies at the University of Namibia reported that the risk of adolescent pregnancy is increasing among the new generation compared with the older generation. Primary school girls as well as secondary school girls show a high increase of adolescent pregnancy but a reduction among their counterparts who are well educated and come from less poverty-stricken families.
The education Sector Policy for the Prevention and Management of Learner Pregnancy states that if a pregnancy does occur, the focus is on supporting the learner mother to complete her education whilst ensuring that the infant’s health, safety and wellness are protected. On the other hand, the learner father is also encouraged to provide a fair share of financial support and to have direct and regular involvement with the infant.
Regain Trust empowers survivors of Gender-Based Violence through psychological therapy sessions, one-on-one and group sessions. The intervention process helps and empowers survivors to open up and speak out about their experiences. Awareness campaigns are done through public dialogues, media campaigns and trainings. The organization advocates for a holistic approach to address GBV. Regain Trust and (FES) Friedrich Ebert Stiftung with co-funding from the European Union are implementing a project that will contribute towards national efforts to address Gender-Based Violence and Learner Pregnancy in the Khomas, Erongo and northern regions. The project titled “Survivors Speak Up!” seeks to increase and enhance the delivery of prevention, psychosocial, health, legal and protection services to reduce the prevalence of GBV & LP.
Look for the upcoming events on our website and Facebook page. If you need help reach out to Regain and call 0817033 203.
2019-05-15 11:37:12 | 10 months ago