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Surviving teen pregnancy and the death of my child

I was a single mom who became pregnant at 16, who decided to keep my child and give her a better life. Yet I ended up losing her to illness. But that’s only part of my story, because I still have a future, and I want to help other pregnant teens realise they do as well.

I was raised by a single mom and she works on a construction site, which is on and off – one month she’s working and next month she’s not. There are three of us, two boys and me. I’m the oldest, so she had to fight for us, and sometimes there are things that I’d see her do, and I knew that she was doing them because she wanted us to have a better education than she does.

It’s really heartbreaking as a child to see your mother struggle and not be able to help with a lot of things, while at the same time feeling as if your family is not going anywhere further in life together.

I found out I was pregnant around the time when I was preparing to do my CXC subjects. When I was admitted to the hospital, persons kept saying, “Girl you need to throw it away and go back to school.” But my morals and values would not allow me to do such a thing.

I told them, “Yes, I am going to do my CXC with my child!”

I did six subjects. I didn’t get any distinctions, but I did get all six subjects and this was a great achievement for me in spite of what was happening to me. I remember telling the doctor when he said I was too unwell, “I’m going to die in the CXC room, because I must sit my exam as I have already failed my mother in my mind by getting pregnant, therefore I must make up for it!”

This all started after one incident, when my then boyfriend saved me from being attacked. I had gone to an event and it was getting late, it was about 8 pm, but I couldn’t get a taxi. My mother told me on the phone to wait on someone so that I could have company. While walking back to the event, I called my boyfriend to let him know that I didn’t have any company so I needed him to meet with me.

While I was on the way back, I was attacked by a male with a knife and he placed something over my face. While he took my phone, my purse and everything that I had, he tried to pull down my pants and unzip my zipper.

Fortunately, my boyfriend came along and he threw a stone at the attacker. The man turned away and my boyfriend ran after him, and that was how I escaped.

The next day at school I told my friends about it, but I never told my mother, because I was afraid of her reaction. But I thought about it a lot. I was thinking that a lot of males would have ran away and left me alone in that situation, but my boyfriend didn’t, and for that I thought I owed him my life.

So in Grade 10, when we were getting ready to move on to the next semester he asked for my virginity. I told him yes because I was trying to pay him back for what he did for me.

But when I got pregnant, that was when he left and everything started to turn upside down. A year later was when I lost my daughter Kashoni to biliary atresia, which is a disease of the liver. She died a couple of months before I was able to fly her overseas for treatment.

Struggling as a single mother, I wanted to give Kashoni a better life. For me to lose her in the middle of all that hope was heartbreaking. It led me into a state of deep depression. I tried to take my life and to be honest I tried multiple times.

Yet I’m still here. I’m now  22, studying at Sam Sharpe Teachers' College to become a primary school teacher. I want to start my own foundation to help pregnant teens. The fact that I’m still here means I have a purpose, and I just want to help them understand that it is not the end of the world. I want them to understand that we are powerful and that we can make something out of ourselves.

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We met Kashieka, a U-Reporter, at the Governor-General's I Believe Initiative (IBI) National Youth Consultative Conference last week. Our thanks to the I Believe team for inviting us to speak to attendees about U-Report.

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