Rising from the stigma of teenage motherhood
Bringing children into the world should be a beautiful experience for all parents, but this only happens when it is the right time, the people involved are mature enough to take on the parenting roles and responsibilities and even better when they are financially capable of these responsibilities.
Teenage mothers are neither of the above, but once they are there …they have to face life, and as a 20-year-old single mum Gunilla Imeledede shares, everything changes and there is many adjustments to do, especially mental.
After getting pregnant in 2015 while in Form One at St Augustine Lukhuna High school, Bungoma county, Gunilla was forced to drop out of school.
She would have had an abortion and continued her education, but that was one scary thought.
Her boyfriend was not a student; in fact, he was working, but was unwilling to face the responsibility.
Her father, like any parent was disappointed in her, but what had happened could not be reversed, even if she wanted to.
Angry father, run away lover
“I was 15 years old, so yes, my dad was angry with me and even refused to talk to me for a long time.
He was disappointed. My baby daddy despite that he was already working couldn’t offer any help.
Immediately I told him that I was pregnant, he blocked all communications. I had to reach him through a different number and when I finally got to him, he denied responsibility,” she says.
Despite his rage, her father did not give up on her and encouraged her to go back to school.
And after two years of breastfeeding, she went back to school and joined Form Two.
But she faced a lot of stigma, so she dropped out and and pursued a course in beauty and cosmetology, in line with her passion for modelling.
She also enrolled for a course in baking and pastry and is hoping to soon open her own bakery.
Being a teenage mum is a traumatic experience as she shares. “I have undergone so many challenges: first, the society- people gave me so many awful names.
In fact, all my friends stayed away from me after giving birth. It just wasn’t easy to accept that all this was happening to me.
Even some of my family members badmouthed me every day- no one wanted to accept me or be in a relationship with a young single mother. I was miserable.
I was even scared of going back to school, but my dad and elder sister stood by my side through every challenge I had to face.
My dad used to advise me and still does to date - this encouraged me to go back to school because I wanted to make both him and my son proud,” she shares.
Accepting and moving on
Her hardest struggle was having to accept that her life as a child had been cut short and that she would never be able to get it back and do all things that other teenage girls her age had to experience.
She had become a mother and had to step in the shoes no matter how big they actually were. But once she did, everything started easing up.
And to other teenage girls who find themselves in such circumstances, her advice is to accept what has happened, accept yourself and make the best of where you are.
“If you accept yourself, the mistakes you made, and the reality about yourself at the point where you are... nothing will stand against you. Put God on your doings and all will be well.
I accepted that I am a young single mother, but because I proved the society wrong every time they find something to insult me over, they now respect me.
I haven’t yet started a, bakery, but I plan to do it when I get support. It’s not possible at the moment because I have only my dad to support me and he is also supporting my child through all his needs- so that would be too much to ask,” she intimates.