I met Lucy earlier this year in the course of my work. Eventually we organized for a motivation talk and my friend Catherine accompanied me.
While we interacted with these young women, or rather girls, many thoughts went through my head which I kept pondering about and posing some questions to the others as we did our best to have a few words of advice to these girls. Looking at the 50 girls, there was nothing peculiar or unique about them. They were looking smart, happy and they were no different from other 12 year olds that I know; except for one thing, the babies crying. I was touched by the courage the faces displayed. We were welcomed by a show of unique talents by the girls. There was acting, dancing, modeling and even a display of acrobats!!! I was so impressed by these as one of the volunteers in the program, Diane kept saying ‘these girls have so much talent and determination but lack the means’. Some of them looked so young that, I wondered if they had experienced the joy of being a protected child so that they can know how to protect their own child. They struggled to listen and scribble some notes, participate as they also attended to the children seeking attention.
We held an interactive motivational session where we shared tips on setting goal and clear vision for life, overcoming obstacles, learning from the past and moving on etc. These were just 50 out of the over 100 young women and girls aged between 12-22 years from Mukuru who are under the Hope for Teenage Mothers’ (HTM) project. They participated quite well displaying leadership skills and esteem they must have gained through the project. Some of the girls later shared their life experiences that left us just amazed and touched. All those who shared had one thing in common, they difficult circumstances that they had faced led them to engaging in unsafe sex ignorantly or as the only means of survival, discovering they are pregnant and dropping out of school. It was not a choice they made but situations that forced the choices on them.
As I quoted to them a phrase from my high school principal that has always spoken to me in different ways ‘there is no platform in life, where you will be able to give excuses as to why you didn’t succeed’ I could not help but add how unfair life can be/seem, yet there is always something at the end when we overcome the struggles.
As the girls from Mukuru start the tough task of being mothers and students, I can only wish them the very best and pray hope that this will be one among many other initiatives for the girls who have dropped out of school. More so I have the hope that more girls do not have to go through the ordeal of unprepared parenthood.