education

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

17-year-old Charity is a lover of sports, especially running, so, one day, she decided to join her school sports team. It was there that she met Jonathan, a former JHS 2 student, and they became fast friends. They began meeting up after school, and soon, to Charity’s joy, Jonathan asked her to be his girlfriend. He showered her with gifts, food and money, and Charity enjoyed every moment of their time together during and after school. She felt incredibly lucky and felt her friends were beginning to get jealous of her boyfriend, who was a senior.

But, in an instant, any envy she felt from her friends was obliterated.

Charity woke up one morning in terrible pain. Her stomach hurt so badly she had to be rushed to the hospital. Her mother was frantic, and, after multiple medical examinations, the doctor finally had an answer for them. Charity was three months pregnant.

Charity was in shock. She hadn’t felt any symptoms or witnessed any of the signs of pregnancy. She was terrified. She didn’t know anything about being a mother. She didn’t know how her classmates and friends would treat her, but she was afraid it would be with judgement.

Through this upsetting time, Charity cried often. Her mother, heavily pregnant at the time, was constantly in tears. Charity is the only girl in her family, having two brothers, and her mother always had high hopes for her. Watching her mother cry only fueled her own tears, as her deep disappointment broke Charity’s heart. Charity was filled with regret. She desperately wished she could go back and change things, but she knew that no amount of tears could change the past.

To Charity’s amazement, her father took the news well. Charity and her mother told him Jonathan was the father, and then went to Jonathan’s house to inform his parents. Jonathan’s parents were also supportive. They agreed to take care of all the medical expenses during her pregnancy and to take care of the baby after the birth.

Charity tried to stay in school but eventually had to drop out because of her condition. Watching her friends go to school every morning was hard, but her mother always gave her a shoulder to cry on and assured her that everything would work out for the best.

It is rare for girls who drop out because of pregnancy to return to school, but Charity refused to be one of those girls. The prospect of returning to school was daunting. Charity feared being teased and people talking about her behind her back, but she had dreams and aspirations and refused to let anything stand in her way.

I have always dreamt of being a caterer because I love to cook and so I wasn’t ready to give up that dream just because I got pregnant at a young age. If people could achieve their dreams I don’t see why I can’t achieve mine.

Right after Charity gave birth she went to her parents and informed them she wanted to return to school. Her parents were pleased, and her mother offered to take care of Charity’s baby while she was in school. And so, two weeks later, with support from her parents, Charity returned to school.

Upon her return, Charity was faced with all the things she had feared. She was teased and pointed at by her classmates, but Charity’s goal was to go to school and complete her education, so she did not let her classmates get to her.

There were days that I was tempted to give up, but one question that I keep asking myself when these thoughts come to mind is ‘give up and do what?’ There is absolutely nothing you can do when you give up but when you persevere and push through the tough moments you will surely make a difference

Although Charity faced difficulties, she received support from her loved ones. Jonathan had completed school the previous year, but when he found out Charity was being bothered he always came to her defense. With time, the teasing died down. Charity’s determination to continue her education showed her classmates that continuing your education, even after becoming a mother, is a challenging but rewarding decision, and came to understand that every child has the right to an education, regardless of circumstance.

I want to encourage every young girl out there to focus and work hard for what they want because the situations we find ourselves in today does not determine who we will be tomorrow, but rather our efforts.

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

Grace took steady steps as she walked from her classroom to the head teacher’s office. While her classmates are playful and girlish as they learn and chat, Grace is more serious, determined. She knows what her education is worth and she is determined not to let anything stop her from succeeding.

Adversity had been a fixture in Grace’s life, but she was determined to never give up. Her determination stemmed from experiencing things most girls never even imagine – at 17, Grace was abused, betrayed and raped, and, at 18, became a teenage mother.

Every day at 4 a.m., Grace woke up to study, feed her 4-month-old son, and get ready for school. Her life was unusual for a JHS 2 girl, but she never let that stop her.


Grace was raised by her mother, a divorcee and petty trader. Their life was plagued by hardships, which eventually forced her mother to migrate to their hometown in the Northern region, leaving Grace to stay with a distant relative her mother believed would be a good guardian. But, unbeknownst to Grace’s mother, her new guardian was anything but kind, and Grace’s mother leaving marked the beginning of years of abuse and struggle.

“Life with my madam was very difficult,” Grace shared, tears clouding her eyes, “my madam barely gave me money for my basic needs in school. She wouldn’t even give me soap to wash my clothes. She never made time to attend PTA meetings and only cared about how I washed and cleaned the house.”

Grace experienced constant emotional abuse from her madam’s husband, who never missed an opportunity to insult Grace and make her feel inferior. Grace thought often about asking him why he was so cruel but was too afraid. When she needed money for things in school, she couldn’t ask her madam or her madam’s husband, so she was often left hungry and unhappy.

Unable to bear this abuse, Grace turned to friends for financial assistance, but those friends were not as kind and welcoming as they seemed.

One day, Grace decided to visit her friend, Rita, who was a teenage mother living with her boyfriend and his two brothers. She spoke of her life with her madam and the abuse she experienced. She shared her need for money to buy books and pay her school dues. Rita promised Grace she would help, but said she couldn’t help right then.

A few months later, Rita called Grace and invited her over to collect some money. Rita welcomed Grace to her home, offering her rice and stew. Grace, ravenous, couldn’t resist, and devoured the food.

After that, her memory is hazy. She woke some time later, her clothes stained with blood and in horrible pain. She couldn’t remember exactly what had happened, but she knew one thing: she had been raped.

Gripped with fear, Grace rushed out of the house and confronted Rita, who admitted that one of the men had slept with her. Grace was furious and scared. She left the house, determined to report the rape to her madam, but, halfway home, had a troubling thought. Her madam had never been kind to her, and Grace had no idea how she would react. Would she believe her? What if her madam called her a bad girl and sent her out of the house? Grace’s madam didn’t give her much, and Grace couldn’t bear the idea of losing what little she had left. So, when Grace returned home, she kept the abuse to herself.

A few months after the incident, Grace began to feel sick and discovered she was pregnant.

She returned to Rita’s house and confronted Salifu, the man who had raped her and threatened to report him to the police. Reluctantly, Salifu took responsibility for the pregnancy.

“When Salifu said he would accept the child, I called my mother and told her about the pregnancy.”

Grace’s mother rushed to her daughter’s side. She suggested they abort the baby, but Grace feared the abortion would kill her. She had learned in school about how dangerous abortions could be when not performed responsibly. “I didn’t want to die,” she said simply.

Grace’s mother couldn’t stay by her side, a family emergency drew her back to the Northern Region, and Grace, wanting to escape the abuse of her madam, accepted when Salifu suggested she move in with his grandmother until Grace gave birth.

Grace hoped this would mark the end of the domestic abuse she experienced, day in, day out, but, in reality, it was only a new chapter. Salifu’s grandmother underfed Grace, who supported her pregnancy through the generosity of her neighbours. In a small stroke of luck, healthcare in her village was free, so she could still go to the clinic for antenatal visits.

Finally, Grace escaped the abuse, returning to live with her mother during her final trimester. But, abuse and neglect, along with her youth, took a toll on her body, and she suffered complications in childbirth.

Grace woke one Monday still feeling sick from the previous day, so she and her mother got in a taxi and went to the hospital. At this point, Grace was so weak the nurses said they needed to do a caesarian section.

Grace didn’t wake for three days. When her baby had been born there were complications. He was safely delivered, but was struggling to breathe and was being kept in the intensive care unit. It took two weeks before mother and son could return home.

It was not an easy transition. Grace’s health was frail, and she still felt occasional pain from the operation. But Grace was determined and informed her parents that she wished to return to school.

“My biggest agony during pregnancy was seeing my mates go to school every morning. I want to work with the fire service someday, and if I don’t complete my education they will not accept me.” Grace said with conviction. She spoke out about her experiences and struggles, and how quitting was not an option.

“Stopping school and staying in the house will not help you or the baby in the future. Only education will help you get out of poverty and other hardships.”

Grace returned to school and became an active member of her Child Rights Club. To this day, she is thankful for the opportunity to be in school once more and is determined not to let the abuse she suffered hinder her from achieving a bright future.

Fighting for Education in the Face of Adversity: the Struggles Facing a Teen Mother in Ghana - Selina's Story

Selina is a girl from a small village in the Central region. The road leading there is in such bad condition it looks abandoned. She is the youngest of five children of a single mother. Her circumstances would seem daunting to most in her situation, but Selina has always been determined to overcome any trials she faces in life, and there has been no shortage of challenges.

At 17, Selina met Michael, a mason from a neighbouring village. Michael and Selina spent time together and began a romantic relationship. Soon after, Selina discovered she was pregnant.

“I never felt sick or any pain in the beginning, I was feeling normal, my mother constantly told me that I was pregnant but I denied because I knew I was fit. I went to the hospital and I was told that I was only sick that’s why I missed my period, I wasn’t told anything about the pregnancy” she said.

In fact, it had been Selina’s mother who had realized she was pregnant. At that point she was far along and had not received any antenatal care.

When Selina’s stomach began to protrude, the embarrassment was too much to take. Selina quit school, spending most of her days at home until she gave birth.

Selina’s mother was not pleased that her daughter was pregnant. She had harboured high hopes for a brighter future for her child, but she decided not to dwell on the past, and adjust to this new future. Selina’s mother took care of her daughter until the baby was delivered.

Unfortunately, the delivery did not go smoothly. All was well when Selina went into labour until she collapsed. Selina was rushed to an operating room where she was forced to undergo a caesarian section. For some time, Selina remained unconscious, before she eventually woke and met her baby for the first time.

This was the beginning of a new phase of life for Selina. She was faced with new challenges from being a new and inexperienced mother, which she met head on. Her boyfriend couldn’t be counted on, his support was sporadic, and Selina received only a little support from her family, so she was largely alone. This was frightening for Selina. She had no job, no source of income, and no idea how she would fend for herself and her baby. Some days she felt like giving up.

But Selina is a strong girl. She drew upon her faith and perseverance and clung to her hope that she could build a better life for herself and her child. She realized how important her education was and decided to go back to school.

This was not an easy decision for Selina. The thought of going back to school brought back memories of the judgement she had received from her classmates and the community at large during her pregnancy. But these fears were nothing compared to her desire to return and complete her education, so Selina informed her mother of her intentions and prepared to continue her schooling.

Selina dreams of becoming an engineer, and would not let her pregnancy or caring for her son prevent her from pursuing that dream. In fact, her son only served to increase her determination, as she drew on her desire to provide a better life for her and her child.

“Life hasn’t been easy with me, but I believe that education will be a stepping stone to achieve this dream of mine.” 


Every child has a dream, but growing up is full of trials and challenges. Teenage pregnancy is rampant in Ghana, especially in rural areas. Many girls who become pregnant as teenagers refuse to return to school. They see teenage pregnancy as something that stops them from achieving their dreams, and give up on the life they had envisioned for themselves.

But Selina wasn’t willing to let her teenage pregnancy stop her from accomplishing anything in life. Now 19, she is more motivated than ever. She is ready to work harder and become an engineer.

Selina has a dream. She dreams of one day being once of the top engineers of our time, and she won’t let anything stop her.