By Shirley Langley and Suzan Khoza.
In Alexandra Township, there are many young girls who have experienced the problem of having babies before they have finished school. I managed to speak one young mother about her life since falling pregnant while still in school.
She said, “Having a baby was a mistake that I can never fix, I had to introduce myself into prostitution so that I could have bread at home to feed me and my baby and my siblings. At that time my mother was working as a domestic servant far away. Sometimes my mother could not get to the taxi rank in the hopes of finding someone that she knew who could bring some money to us. We sometimes managed to get some money but sometimes not.
After having my baby my mother only came home once to see that we were all right. Her boss; a white woman would not allow her to visit us very often. It was difficult to look after my baby alone, after the first year I tried to back to school to finish my grade 11 so that I could go into grade 12. It did not go as I had planned because there was no one to look after my baby while I was at school.
At the age of 16 I tried to apply for a social grant for my child, but I could not get one because they said I had to be eighteen. My aunt then helped me and I got one but it was very little and didn’t help me. I turned to playing cards to try and make more money to pay for food and house. Sometimes I would win and sometimes I didn’t win so we suffer again and mom was earning only R500 a month (roughly $65).
That was when I had to start standing on street corners and get busy with men at Shabeens (bars) and stuff. It depressed me and made me think that there is no life. Later I was not feeling well after working so many nights without sleeping.”
It was then that this young mother learnt that she had contracted HIV AIDS. She started taking the medication the clinic gave her and learnt how to take care of herself. As time went on she was unable to look after herself or her child or her younger brother. So life was not good for her until her mother decided to resign from being a domestic worker and return home to look after her children and grandchildren.
And this is where you come across the challenges of life, not knowing what to do and who to turn to, that you realize the troubles of the world. So we say let’s not just sit around and do nothing about teenage pregnancy. Teenage pregnancy is becoming a serious issue in our community and I think it is because our parents do not talk to us about issues that are affecting us and that is why we are afraid to tell them what is happening in our lives. So lets all get up and do something about teenage pregnancy.
Suzan Khosa was unemployed and volunteering at an aid-based NGO before joining Hillside Digital. She is 25 years old, grew up in rural Limpopo province and finished high school in 2004. Suzan has a fifteen month old baby with whom she lives in a tin shack with her sister and the baby’s father.
Suzan is fiercely committed to learning as much as she can in order to create a better life for herself. Her interest is in editing and directing and she is passionate about making a difference in her community through telling stories about the social role of women and how HIV-Aids affected
Shirley Langley is a 20-years old and lives with her foster family in Alexandra where she was born and raised. She finished high school in 2007 and excelled at sports. Her passion is to be a sports reporter and a video editor and to tell stories on camera which encourage young people to engage in sports as a means of keeping healthy and focused – and as a way of avoiding teenage pregnancy, crime and substance abuse.