The ebola crisis has left a legacy that has affected more than just the health system. During the epidemic, schools were shut, leaving young people with little guidance. A spate of teenage pregnancies occurred and many schools wouldn’t allow girls to continue their education whilst pregnant.
Zainab Boima, 18, and her son Abubecka, 8 months, are pupils at the Teenage Mother’s School. This FINE Salone (Fambul Initiative Network for Equality Sierra Leone) project is an informal school for young mums to continue their basic education whilst pregnant. They can even bring their newborns with them.
My life went backwards
“I come from a poor background. There was no money to support me so I couldn’t always go to school. My mother asked me to move away to the village because they didn’t have enough money to support me.
There I became pregnant, and I had to come back to town to live with my aunt.
I realised that I was pregnant because I had learnt about the menstrual chart in school. After one month, I saw the signs and talked to my elder sister and she said I was pregnant.
I was terrified. I wanted to do an abortion but my sister told me that I could die so I decided to keep it.
The father's family refused to support the child. I thought my life would stay small; that I wouldn’t have anything good. Sometimes I feel like it’s gone backwards a bit.
The Opportunity To Learn
I heard of the school for the teenage mothers and thank God for it. The programme has given me an opportunity to have an education.
It has given me a chance. I really like the teaching and the teacher. I like social studies and integrated science.
Now I want to be a nurse. My sister has encouraged me all the way.
I have changed now that I’m a mother. I used to only think of myself.
Now I have a child, I have to think about what the child wants. It can be difficult to study with a child. If she cries at night, it’s hard.
Backbone for my baby
Sometimes I think about the time that has been wasted. I think about what my life would be like if my child wasn’t here.
The way things are going in Sierra Leone, education is the key out of it all. Without it, you just stay back and I don’t want to stay back. If I don’t learn now, how can I support my child?
I want to be the backbone for her, so that she doesn’t fall into the same trap.”
Over five years since world leaders created the Sustainable Development Goals, with attention now focused squarely on the global pandemic, you'd be forgiven for wondering: does anyone still care about the SDGs?