opinionBy Nozindonga Mkhaliphi
I am a young girl from Timbutini in Manzini. I grew up without either of my parents. They both passed away when I was very young. My elder sister and brother were looking after us, andlife was very tough.
When I was in Third Form, I had some difficulties paying for bus fare and toiletries. My sister was in her first year at college and my brother was not working. We did not have any money.
I had a relationship with a young man who was at the University of Swaziland. He promised to buy me toiletries and give me some pocket money. He kept his promise, and I was happy. We kept our relationship to ourselves until I fell pregnant and that was the worst nightmare ever.
I never thought of getting pregnant and I did not want a baby. I was not ready to be a mother. I told him about the pregnancy and he immediately changed his tune. I became so depressed. I thought of aborting but I did not have any money and abortion is illegal in Swaziland. It was not long before my elder sister noticed my stomach bump and I had no option but to tell her. My sister was so angry but then she finally forgave me.
I had to drop out of school after writing my exams because I was heavily pregnant. When I gave birth, I went to the father's parent's home to show them our child. They accepted my child. I am sad that our relationship did not last because of the pregnancy. Having a child is a lot to handle as well; I was alone with a crying baby all the time. I had no one to advise me on how to look after a baby. I had to learn it all by myself.
When the baby was a year old, life was very tough. I desperately wanted to go back to school. I had no way to pay my school fees though. I heard that I could get help from the Forum for African Women Educationalists Swaziland Chapter (FAWESWA). I went there and told them about my nightmare. They offered me counseling at first and the following year, they paid my school fees. I was so happy and I promised to take good care of myself.
When I was at school, my face was full of joy and my body changed. I was alive again. The father of my child saw how happy I was and proposed. Wow!
I was confused because I had feelings for him before, but he broke my heart anyway. He begged me to marry him, and said that it was he and I, destined to be together. I forgot the promises I had made to myself, and I gave him a second chance. Three months later I got pregnant again. That happened in the third term, and I had to hide my stomach until I finished the year.
I completed that year, but I still had one more year until I could graduate from high school. I was so ashamed of myself. My fiancé left me and I had no one again. I then went back to FAWESWA to tell them what I had done. They were good parents, which means that I was punished, and I accepted my punishment. They suspended me for a year and they promised to pay my school fees when they are satisfied that I am grown up.
Girls: do not be misled by men who promise cash and cell phones. Poverty is here, but we can make it on our own without being misled by men. Be strong and be educated to get out of poverty.
* Not her real name
This story is part of the "I" Stories series produced by the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service for the Sixteen Days of Activism on Gender Violence.