Fighting for Education in the Face of Adversity: The Struggles Facing a Teen Mother in Ghana – Abigail’s story

We all have dreams – dreams of all the places we’ll go, the things we’ll do – but sometimes life tests us to strengthen these dreams and to fight to make them a reality.

When Abigail found out she was pregnant as a teenager, she felt her dreams start to slip away from her. She was scared and felt broken to the point of giving up. But Abigail was not weak. She found a well of determination and perseverance deep inside her and began fighting to make those dreams that felt so tenuous a reality.

Abigail is an 18 year-old student in form 3. She has lived with her grandmother since she was 3 years-old, and is the child of divorced parents who do not live in her town. Her mother sells fish in Accra, and her father is a driver.

When Abigail was 17, she became involved with Foster, a local bus conductor. In the following months, a tenant in her house noticed changes in her body and reported them to Abigail’s grandmother. Abigail’s grandmother took her to the hospital, where their suspicions were confirmed. Abigail was pregnant.

Abigail was deeply shaken. She was unsure about what her future would look like now that she was having a child. However, her own shock was nothing compared to that of her boyfriend. When she informed Arhin of the child, he asked her to have an abortion and said he was not ready to be a father.

Abigail was devastated. She felt naïve to have thought that Arhin loved her and would do anything for her. His blunt words shattered her and she ran home in tears.

When Abigail’s mother heard of the pregnancy, she was furious. She rushed back to the village from Accra, where she was selling her fish, and vented her anger on Abigail. She yelled in anger and disappointment and, when she was done, swore to Abigail that she would never take care of her again.

Still, as a final act before leaving Abigail once more for the city, Abigail’s mother called Arhin and argued with him to take responsibility for the baby. When Arhin still would not agree, she threatened to get him arrested, and then he finally gave in. In time, his parents began to support Abigail and the baby financially.

Abigail’s became increasingly shy around her friends in school as her body grew with the pregnancy. She made the difficult decision to stop going to school. It was a very difficult moment in Abigail’s life. Her family and community shared with her their disappointment, and tried to convince her to abort the baby, but fear of losing her life stopped Abigail from ending her pregnancy.

At this stage of her pregnancy, Abigail was crying all the time. People openly judged her on a daily basis, and did not hide it from her. It was her grandmother who got her through the hard time, comforting and encouraging her when Abigail felt hopeless. The sadness was only worsened by all the wonderful moments Abigail knew she was missing in school and how little she now saw her friends.

But, Abigail was not alone. Abigail had been a member of the child rights club at her school, and the club patron and many of the members visited her regularly. They encouraged her to stay strong, and urged her to return to school after the birth. Abigail loved these visits, but was still skeptical about continuing her education. She thought it would be impossible to go back to school.

In time, Abigail’s thoughts turned to her dream of becoming a nurse. As the goal became stronger in her mind, she knew she could only accomplish her dream if she went back to school. One day, Abigail went to her grandmother and declared her intention to return to school. Her grandmother was ecstatic. When Abigail’s mother heard of her decision, she, too, was delighted. Abigail’s mother was so pleased that she decided to start supporting Abigail as well, and this support, along with the encouragement and assistance Abigail received from her grandmother, club patron and club members, made her eager to return to school and further her education.

When the baby was born, Abigail’s grandmother decided to care for the baby so that Abigail could return to school as soon as possible, but the change was still not without difficulty. Abigail found the schoolwork and being away from her child overwhelming, but with the support of her friends and child rights club patron, she slowly overcame her challenges.

“I count myself blessed to have had good people around me who encouraged me to return to school and pursue my dream of being a nurse.”