You will agree that reality sets in when a girl gets a child with an irresponsible boyfriend. This means that if her family is unwilling or unable to look after the child, she must find the means to dress, feed, treat, educate and shelter the new responsibility on her own. It is not enough to say that this is an unfair and painful sacrifice girls around the world pay on a daily basis.
LinkmeUg brings you the story of 25 year old Jessica whose life turned for the worse when her boyfriend abandoned her with their child. Jessica is forced to carry her breastfeeding baby to karaoke bars in Bwaise to earn a living.
LinkmeUg reporter, Cathbert Kigozi, met her at one of the clubs and asked her why a dance club is an option for the child.
How did you join karaoke?
Jessica: I have always had a passion for dancing and I did a lot of it in high school; I used to dance and mime all kinds of music. So during the S.5 holidays , I teamed up with three female friends and we went for karaoke nights in clubs and bars in Bwaise and Kalerwe and danced till dawn; before long we decided to form a karaoke group.
How did your parents react to this, you being a school girl?
Jessica: Their reaction wasn’t bad because I had taken a little load from them; I was able to buy myself books and also provide pocket money to my two siblings. I completed S.6 in 2014 but didn’t continue because there was no money for university or an institution. My friends and I formed a dance group and with time I lost the interest for upgrading.
As a mother of a 2 month old daughter, how do you juggle the 2 roles?
Jessica: It’s really hard but I thank God that I am a strong lady. I move with my kid to any bar I have to perform in. While on stage, my child is backstage sleeping or with a friend. She still breastfeeds and I do this during my breaks.
Isn’t this dangerous?
Jessica: Yes, I know about the noise and the risk of moving with her everywhere I go but once she is a sleep, the noise doesn’t matter.
Are your parents aware and okay with that?
Jessica: Yes they are but they are now aging; I can’t burden them with my child. And as for friends, I have none to trust my daughter with. I would rather toil with her.
How do you deal with the men in the club?
Jessica: I learnt my lesson so am now harsh with them. After my performances, many approach me for my number or to offer me drinks but I keep my head up rather than being gullible.
What other challenges do you face at the clubs?
Jessica: The rude language from people; that used to hurt me initially but not anymore.
How much do you earn from karioke dancing?
Jessica: I don’t earn that much; a good week gives me about 80,000/= and a bad one about 50,000/= it is from this money that I pay rent and look after my child. During the good weeks I also plan for the bad ones.
Is dancing the only way to feed your child?
Jessica: No but it’s what I have at the moment. I can plait hair, work as a waitress, receptionist and all other jobs that a person with my qualification can do. I have always wanted to quit dancing but I have failed to get another job.
What drives you?
Jessica: Many things but most importantly the baby.
Advice to the youth
Jessica: Never give up on studying and always have a plan for when to do the right thing.
If you can find Jessica a better job, call or whatsapp +256702553699
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