Becoming pregnant at the age of 14 was never in Tecla’s plans, but due to naivety and peer pressure, it happened.
Tecla grew up in a small mining town in Zimbabwe called Kadoma. Her parents separated when she was three years old, so her grandparents took care of her. By the time she was in Grade 5, she was an orphan.
“My father passed away in 2002 and my mother followed two years later,” she told The Weight She Carries. “As fate would have it, my grandmother collapsed in 2006 and died.”
Tecla’s uncle and grandfather took on the responsibility of raising her, but it proved to be a difficult time.
“Without a mother figure to guide me, l was easily swayed into miscellaneous behaviour by a friend who taught me about pornography and sex,” she said.
Tecla further explained how, at the age of 14, she would sneak her boyfriend into the house at night.
“My first experience with sex excited me and so when l missed my period l tried to find out what the symptoms of pregnancy were and how l could [get rid of the pregnancy],” she said. “I attempted to abort [the baby] but it did not work. As time went on, l felt movements and that is when l told my friend that l was pregnant and accepted the situation as it was.”
After accepting the pregnancy, she looked forward to starting a new life with her new family. Although her relatives were hurt, she did not care because to her, she was escaping her troublesome grandfather and uncle – or so she thought.
soon struck when she and her boyfriend moved from place to place because no one
would take them in. Life became so difficult until they decided to go to Harare,
Zimbabwe’s capital, to her boyfriend’s sister.
“Our situation forced us to go to Harare in search of a better life, but all we met was rejection. The train ride back was a bad experience because l had to sit at the station for hours with no warm blankets or food. My boyfriend would wander and come back after a couple of hours,” she said. “When we eventually got back to Kadoma, we went to a relative’s house and just stayed with their kids who had been left there. Life was very difficult at the time. We had to [scrounge] for food until a Good Samaritan took care of me until l gave birth. It was an old lady who used to sell goods by her little corner.”
Tecla gave birth on the 27th of July 2009 to a baby boy. She had to rely on donations from other mothers in the ward because all she had was a loaf of bread and a bottle of water. The child’s father never bought the baby anything after his birth, she said.
“When l went back home the situation was still the same. l recall one time when he left for days after he got paid, only to return with used condoms in his pocket,” she said. “I was deeply pained but because l have always been a soft person, he beat me and accused me of all sorts of things and my family would in turn call me a nagging wife. l just cried and kept quiet.”
Tecla began collecting scrap metal to survive, making no more than ZW$4. In September 2013, her son’s father was fired from work and returned to Kadoma, taking all his belongings with him. He left nothing for them except ZW$0.50 “to buy the baby some snacks.” He didn’t return, so Tecla decided to strike out on her own and returned to school.
“The process was tough but l persevered. Lots of tears were shed, but l never gave up until l completed my ordinary level [high school] in 2018,” she said. “Discouragements l got from family pained me but l refused to back down because l knew l could do it.”
Tecla offers three pieces of advice to women:
- Add value to your life by finding something to do, be it education or business; do not rely on a man.
- Do not stay in abusive relationships because they subsequently affect the children.
- Surrender your life to God. That is what got me through my situation.
Tecla explained that her son’s father has tried to reach out to her by telling her how much he loves her, yet he does not mention their child, so she has blocked all communication with him. She is currently job-hunting so she can further her studies.