As we mark mother’s day this May, LinkmeUg is focusing on student mothers. Do you know what happens to the girls who decide not to abort their pregnancies? Their stories differ, some are thrown out of home, many dropout of school, while others never hear from their boyfriends again. Meet Sharifah Nalusiba Lule who got pregnant in her 2nd year and at just 20 was forced to move into her boyfriend’s hostel room.
LinkmeUg: Was your pregnancy planned or it just happened?
Sharifah: I didn’t plan to get pregnant, I was just having fun. I found out I was pregnant from a clinic near my hostel. I was totally crashed because my mum is a single mother of 6 and a very strict one at that. What was I going to tell her?
LinkmeUg: What was your next move?
Sharifah: I decided to abort out of fear of my mum. My boyfriend – Isma knew I was pregnant but I didn’t tell him about my plan. So with half of my tuition, I scheduled an appointment with the doctor nearby. However, when I got to the clinic, I waited for him in vain; he never showed up.
That was when I decided to tell Isma about my plan. Surprisingly, he showed up with a video about what abortion does to the baby. What I saw horrified me. The video showed babies being cut to threads, piece by piece; sometimes the head was crashed…God I couldn’t do this to my child. I decided to keep the baby and I never regretted my decision ever.
LinkmeUg: How did your mother react?
Sharifah: When she found out I was pregnant, she was devastated and cried day and night. She told me I had disappointed her and that she didn’t want to see me again. So I moved out of home and joined by boyfriend in his hostel. But her always words cut through me and to date I can’t forgive myself for making her cry. My sisters though were very supportive and kept my mother and I informed about the other. They told me she prayed for me always.
LinkmeUg: Was Isma understanding and supportive?
Sharifah: Yes, he was so loving and kind. There were 2 other boys in his room so we had to move. He looked for a single room and we moved in as roommates. I looked for a teaching job that gave us 80,000 a month and we forged our way forward.
LinkmeUg: Did you get any help from his family?
Sharifah: It is at this point that I was sure he loved me. After leaving home, I never talked to my mum for a long time and definitely couldn’t ask for tuition from her. So Isma and I agreed to find ways of paying half my tuition and he would ask his parents to pay the other half. They were concerned that I was pregnant but he assured them that it was his pregnancy.
To prove that he was serious, he moved his luggage back home and gave them an ultimatum. It was either they paid half of my tuition or he dropped out of school and used his own tuition to educate me. [Sharifah sighs] The parents complied.
LinkmeUg: How did the pregnancy change your life?
Sharifah: I lost my ‘girlhood’ I jumped from daughter to ‘wife.’ Things were hard, I was too young to be a mother, I didn’t know what to do. I felt like I didn’t fit in, my age mates were young and having fun and there I was having backache and swollen feet.
LinkmeUg: Tell us about labour.
Sharifah: While in hostel, I had a friend who had a child in her room. She helped me a lot. She was with me in the labour suit. I didn’t even know I was in labour until I went to hospital for a routine check.
Unexpectedly, my mother came to hospital after delivery. I was so terrified of her that I ran out of the room and left the baby behind; she is that tough. But later, she helped me calm down, hugged me and said I would be okay.
LinkmeUg: Your experience as a student mother
Sharifah: That was the hardest bit. I didn’t know what to do with a child; I was still a child myself. While my friends were going to school, I was breast feeding, waking up to change diapers, having trouble with maids; God! It was crazy. Sometimes I went with the maid to campus and she sat out with the baby as I attended class.
LinkmeUg: A baby is expensive, how did you handle that?
Sharifah: I had to stop teaching because I was overwhelmed. Isma got odd jobs at building sites because the nature of his course [B.Sc Industrial Chemistry] couldn’t let him get part time jobs. We saved as much as we could from the odd jobs until we had 50,000/= which we used to start a boutique. A friend of his run it and would give us some profit which helped run our little home.
LinkmeUg: How did your families support you?
Sharifah: Isma was an only child so our child was received with so much joy. They took up the responsibility of meeting all her needs. My mum too supported us the best she could.
LinkmeUg: When did the situation at home ease up for you to have normal school?
Sharifah: It didn’t, there is a time my girl fell so ill that I missed 5 examinations which resulted into a dead year. During that year, we put ourselves to order, Isma got a paying job and we made our relationship official with a wedding ceremony we could afford. I later went back to school and graduated 2 years after my friends had left campus.
LinkmeUg: Why do you think your boyfriend was so supportive?
Sharifah: I really don’t know if I was just lucky or because he was an only child, or because he feared the effects of an abortion. Incidentally he is very prudent, religious and he loved me very much. I guess there are many reasons. I would have been a mess without his support; I thank God Isma stood by me.
LinkmeUg: Looking at your experience, what do u advice girls in school?
Sharifah: Having a child in school is a no no no. You lose so much. Our parents are right, I love my daughter so much but I lost what I can never regain. However if it happens, I don’t advise you to abort, go with it and try to figure life out.
LinkmeUg: 10 Years down the road, how is life?
Sharifah: My campus boyfriend is my husband now. We braved the tough life and we have 4 more children. We assumed responsibility so early in life, became parents when we were not ready but life goes on. We rose up to the challenge and planned for our family. Today, we are in the hardware market.
LinkmeUg – Online media for youth
Happy Mother’s day to all student mothers.