Teenage pregnancy in spotlight

Emthonjeni Counselling and Training organisation executive director, Nomfundo Eland-Mwanda, shares with the girls the aim of the event.

In the face of an alarming rate of pregnancy among girls, Emthonjeni Counselling and Training, a non-profit organisation, held an informative event at Makhaza sports hall in Khayelitsha on Saturday September 16.

Various stakeholders, netball teams from the northern zone and community leaders attended to share their experiences about making wise life choices.

Sinoyolo Myazolo, who was among the key speakers, shared how she got pregnant at an early age and the challenges she faced during her pregnancy.

The 22-year-old mother of one said she got pregnant while she was doing her Grade 12 in 2020 and when she informed her then boyfriend he ran away from her.

Her ex-boyfriend has not played any part in her child’s life and did not support her when she was pregnant, even though they were attending the same school.

“Now we do talk about it but when it comes to supporting the child financially he does not play any part and we fight a lot about that,” she said.

‘’Young girls, please do not engage in unsafe sexual intercourse. Please condomise and never make the same mistake that I did. Being a parent is not easy especially when the father of the child fails to play his role.

“I’m raising my child alone without the help of the father even though it took both of us to make the child. Stay at school and make wise life choices,” she said.

Emthonjeni Counselling and Training organisation executive director, Nomfundo Eland-Mwanda, said there was an alarming increase of unplanned pregnancies in girls and young women between the ages of 12 and 19 and over 4 000 young girls have fallen pregnant since the beginning of the year.

She said others had had abortions and as an organisation they felt the urge to have such conversations with the girls.

Ms Eland-Mwanda believes that young girls are not assertive enough to say no to sex.

She said she understands this because she did not plan her first sexual encounter and was tricked into having sex.

Through this programme they wanted to make a difference, impacting on the lives of young girls who are already in sport.

“A child that is 12 years old cannot be impregnated and we need to track who is behind the pregnancy.

“We must also talk to the boy child because a girl cannot make herself pregnant. When a girl child is pregnant her dreams are shattered and education is affected while the boy child continues with his life as if nothing had happened.

“In many cases, a boy child runs away from the responsibility of taking care of their child. We want a girl child to be far from an environment that would make her pregnant by being involved in sport and in other activities.

“We also want those who experience such things to share their stories with others so that they can learn,” she said.

The organisation was established 13 years ago and it used to focus on HIV and Aids but over the years they spread their wings and touch on issues such as depression, mental health, drugs, gender-base violence and teenage pregnancy.

Talking about challenges, Ms Eland-Mwanda highlighted a lack of support from parents as one of the reasons that at times propels young girls to make uninformed life choices.

But she said that in many black families parents are not bold enough to speak candidly about teenage pregnancy with their children.

She said they are hoping that they will have parenting workshops so that they could empower parents and also inform them that parenting in these modern days has changed.

Today’s children are inquisitive and ask tough questions and as parents you cannot dismiss them but one needs to create a platform where they can talk, she said.

Community Listener For Breaking Beliefs representative, Oyama Eland said she wanted to talk about mental health because she feels that there are no spaces that allow young people to talk about it.

She said even in our homes our parents do not understand mental health issues and when you raise that you are not well you are judged as if you are a weak person who cannot face challenges head-on.

Some of the young girls who attended the programme.