Girl,16, goes to school with her three-month-old baby

BY: By Shirley Asiedu-Addo
She is allowed to breastfeed the baby when the need arises
She is allowed to breastfeed the baby when the need arises

Sometimes situations overwhelm people but the courageous victors don’t give up.

They are able to make the best out of such situations and become exemplary individuals for their families and communities.

With the heart of a lion and determination par excellence, Bertha Egyema Andoh, 16, goes to school with her three-month-old baby in order to realise her dream of becoming a nurse.

Bertha realised she was pregnant at junior high school (JHS) Form Three when she was 15.

Shattered dream
She said she felt her dream of becoming a nurse had been shattered.

She said for weeks she was devastated.

"I could not think straight. I was sad and confused," she said.

But upon advice from family and friends, she said she was able to reorganise herself and resolved to complete her basic education.

She learnt hard and managed to write the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) while pregnant.

A month after giving birth, her results came out.

Bertha passed with aggregate 19 and gained admission to the Mando Senior High School in the Ajumako Enyan Essiam District in the Central Region.

Bertha said although she could have done better she was happy with her grades considering all the challenges she went through with the pregnancy.

Bertha puts her child to sleep during break time

Bertha said she was not ready to let her opportunity of completing senior high school go by and sought help to enable her to prepare for the first year.

So far, she said though the experience had been challenging, it had been good.

She said she took the baby to school sometimes and breastfed her intermittently when it was necessary.

Luckily for Bertha, her aunt works as a cook at the school's kitchen and keeps the baby for her while she attends classes.

She said in spite of the gossip and stigma that came with being a mother in secondary school, she was determined to complete her education.

"I need to do this for myself and my child. Becoming pregnant should not be the end of my life. I am too young to give up on my dreams," she said.

Support need
Bertha said she needed more than her determination to pass through this stage of her life.

She needs support from kind and benevolent organisations, she said.

According to her just six months after her father died, her mother is also saddled with a stroke.

That, she said, had made life more difficult.

"Things have not been easy for me, with a baby to feed and a sick mother. Any support to cushion me is welcome and will go a long way to help me," she said.

She thanked the Ghana Education Service for the re-entry policy that allowed young mothers who were willing to return to school to pursue their education to do so and the management of her school for the support.

Re-entry policy
The re-entry policy allows girls who get pregnant in school to re-enter and continue school to reduce the number of school drop-outs due to adolescent pregnancies.

"The teachers know I have a child and I am allowed to go out and breastfeed the baby when the need arises," she stated.

"I hope to work hard to achieve my aspirations and make a better life for myself and the baby," she added.

Ms Alice Edmund, an aunt of Bertha, said her determination was unparalleled.

"We all thought she would not continue her education but she was resolute about continuing her education and she has been doing quite well with combining school and taking care of the baby," she stated.

She appealed for support for her and the baby.