The following story was narrated to TWSC Contributor Kim Mukwa.
My name is Portia* and I am 38 years old. I come from Gokwe, Zimbabwe. Growing up, I have faced quite a number of challenges, one of which was falling pregnant at a young age of 22 out of wedlock. I was childish at the time because when I was around five months pregnant, my aunt, who I was staying with at the time, is the one who noticed that I was pregnant even though I had tried to conceal it.
After being found out, I had no option but to go and stay with the father of the child. I forced my way into his place hoping that time would make him love me. It failed because we were always fighting, and I would even end up [reporting] him to the police at times. I tried to make him love me to no avail.
When I was about seven months pregnant, he plainly told me that the relationship was over. He would take care of his child but refused to be involved with me.
I decided to look for part-time work so that I could take care of my child because at this time, I was not registered at the clinic and the coming baby had no clothes, diapers – literally nothing.
The kindness of strangers
In the process of looking for work, I came across a lady who offered me work to do some cleaning and laundry. When I was done with the chores, she gave me some baby stuff and money. She then [asked] where I was headed, and I told her that I did not have a place to stay since the father of the child had already rejected me.
That’s when she contacted one of her friends and asked if she could accommodate me for one night. Amazingly, she agreed. The following morning, the lady inquired if I had a place to go. When she heard what I had to say, she offered me a place to stay, and in turn, I would help around the house. I was shocked because I did not expect such a thing to happen, especially from [someone] I had never met before. I stayed with the lady, and with the help of her sister, they got me registered at the clinic and bought the baby what it needed.
Later that year in November, I gave birth to a baby girl and informed the father. He was already in Botswana at this point, and he supported his child every month whilst I continued to stay with this lady.
A cold, hard floor
It was after about three years of staying with the lady that I was asked to leave because, truthfully, more family members had come to stay there. At this point, I had no work or money for me to be able to leave the place and be independent.
I informed the father of my child, who sent money, which I used to rent a room. With no mattress, let alone a blanket, I had to use my child’s blanket to sleep on the bare floor.
The nights were very cold. One day, I decided to go to my child’s family and poured out my heart to her grandmother, who made the decision to take the child in while l looked for work.
After a while, I found work as a housekeeper. It was during this time that I met a guy by coincidence who informed me that there was a company hiring merchandisers for their products. I contacted the company and was immediately employed. I couldn’t believe it! I was employed for four years at the company and even transferred to the resort town of Hwange.
It was during my monthly leave that I met a guy who swept me off my feet and promised to marry [me], and that’s how I met my husband, and we have a son together. I am happy and satisfied now.
If there is one thing I promised myself, even during my most difficult time, [it] was not to fall pregnant again if the man had not yet married me. The heartbreak and turmoil I had gone through previously I would not allow myself to go through again. And that’s my advice to other single parents out there. Hold on to hope that everything is going to work out one day. It has not been an easy road, but it did eventually work out.
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