Every mum is remarkable. It takes great resilience, strength and sometimes a lot of patience to bring up a child, but the reward is always worth it (or, so my mum tells me!).
For some mums, the arrival of a child comes too soon. Still considered children themselves, for teen mums their journey into motherhood is even more challenging. While their peers are still studying at school, playing with dolls or hanging out with their friends, girls who become mums at a young age are sometimes left to navigate this new and frightening stage of life on their own.
Meet Nicole, Jennifer and Cindy, three teenage mums who’ve gained experience and determination beyond their years.
Nicole was 13-years-old when she first became pregnant. “My partner left me when he realised I was expecting a baby. It was a tough time since both my parents had died and my grandmother was the only one looking after me. I didn’t have anyone to turn to,” Nicole recalls.
Even though she was young, Nicole started taking temporary jobs in order to feed her son Manasés. She worked as a cleaner, sold makeup in the local market, and even dressed up as a clown to entertain children at private birthday parties.
Three years later, Nicole discovered she was once again pregnant. “When I found out I was pregnant with my second child, I considered an abortion and even putting an end to my own life. If it wasn’t for God’s intervention in that crucial time, my daughter Adaza and I would not be here,” says Nicole.
With tears rolling down her face, Nicole explains, “Somehow I changed my perspective and decided to go to church. That day I realised how mistaken I was, and I asked the Lord to forgive me for my attempt to end my life. God’s answer was as great as my challenges; He will never give up on me or let me stumble.”
Nicole carried her pregnancy to full term and gave birth to her daughter Adaza, meaning light.
Five months after giving birth, Nicole and Adaza were enrolled in the Child Survival Programme. “Through the Child Survival project I have learnt how to feed my children according to their age. I did not know about this before, and I wish I could have when my son Manasés was born. Also, I have learnt to develop Adaza’s fine and gross motor skills by practising with her the exercises the project staff taught me,” says Nicole.
As a teen mum lacking in experience Nicole has embraced every project lesson with great enthusiasm. She is no longer afraid of what lies ahead.
Fourteen-year-old Jennifer was in her third year of secondary school when she discovered she was pregnant.
Living with her mum and four younger siblings, the family’s home was crowded and in a poor condition. Seeing their situation, a neighbour introduced Jennifer to a Child Survival project run though the local church. Jennifer was accepted and began attending the project’s activities, including prenatal check-ups.
“When I was four months pregnant I went to the health centre because for one month I had a non-stop cough,” recalls Jennifer. At the health centre Jennifer was diagnosed with tuberculosis and began a six-month course of treatment. Each day, Jennifer and her mum faithfully walked to the health centre with a glass to receive and take her medicine.
Jennifer saw the same the doctor at the Child Survival project and health centre, meaning she received quick treatment at the right time. Her condition was also carefully monitored by project staff who were concerned about the risk to her unborn baby. Thankfully the treatment was effective and Jennifer gave birth to a beautiful, healthy girl called Jafa.
“This is beautiful! There is so much love for my baby and me, more than expected. I am very happy and glad to be supported and that I matter to them.
“When the tutors found out I had tuberculosis, they closely followed up with me to make sure I was taking the treatment faithfully. Thank God I feel good now and my baby is fine.
“I could not have imagined all that I´m receiving through the programme. I knew about general things like help with food, medical check-ups, and spiritual support, but I’m getting more than that. I was not expecting so much support,” says Jennifer.
For 14-year-old Cindy her biggest fear didn’t come from childbirth or motherhood. She feared the abortion her family had planned for her.
Leaving her home, family and friends behind, Cindy faced an uncertain and lonely future.
Thankfully Cindy had the support of Compassion’s Child Survival Programme. While she was still pregnant she was registered into a Child Survival project. Here she was provided with skilled prenatal, childbirth and post-natal care.
Cindy was able to carry her baby to full term and gave birth to a beautiful daughter.
My daughter is the happiness of my home. At the project, they give us food. There are times when they bring fruits and fish and meat. When she needed vitamins they gave them to me right away.
Cindy also has a support network so she never feels alone.
“When I have a problem, I go to my group and I can share with them, and we pray together. I go to church and I’m learning more how to take care of my girl. The Child Survival project for me is like a big family because it’s where we all meet and we have our kids and we are all there together. When we have activities in the project, we laugh, we pray, we are together. We do fun activities. We have fun, and I never had that with my own family.”
Born to thrive
Not physically ready to bear children, teen mums are often the most vulnerable mothers. Without the intervention of the Child Survival Programme, Nicole, Jennifer and Cindy’s futures would’ve been far more uncertain. For girls of the same age, childbirth is the leading cause of death, claiming the lives of tens of thousands of adolescents each year.* But Nicole, Jennifer, Cindy haven’t just survived. They’ve transformed into confident young mums, who are gaining experience every day, thanks to your generous support.
Find out more about the difference you can make.
Our Child Survival Programme
*United Nations Population Fund