I am Catherine Djiemo, growing up was a delight for me as I got the opportunity to change locations due to my dad's job. I was that girl child who gave 150 % to prove myself and valurise my return into the next academic year.
Everything changed when i turned 22 years, third year at University, and pregnant. My Worlds crumbled, the life and family i knew disappeared with the wind. I was "Cut off" from all my relatives. My dad said i brought shame and dishonour to his clan, my mom had no opinion than to follow my dads instructions, my siblins where forbinden from taking contact with: I was on exil never to return.
Suddenly i felt alone, unwanted, unworthy , and not knowing if i had been living a lie for the last 22 years. My mental health was at it's worst as i struggled to reach out to the People i loved; rather i become like a punching bag of sand when all the sterotypes surrounding teenage pregnancy and the cultural implications where robbed on my face.
In my struggle to finding a New purpose and sense of belonging, my then boyfriend (now husband ) family embraced me. I Remember his mom saying " i will have you ,if they donot want you; it will be their loss and my gain ". And so did she but i struggled emotionally for years because of the attachment i had with my dad. I was shattered to pieces and never knew i could recover. Nothing was ever enough to fill that gap untill my daughter was born. She was here and i loved her with every being of my existence from that moment i set my eyes on her.
But i never expected what happened after her birth . I was hunted and given a time limit to abandon my child and return to thesame people who abandon me when i needed them most. I became rebellious and revolted against my family. We where completely not in talking terms for 12years. And alot had happened in these 12 years. I moved to Sweden ,where we now live with our daughter who is now 16 years old and in high school.
Today we self finance our organisation called "The Catherine Djiemo Foundation in Cameroon". Our objective is to raise awareness on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR)
We work in four thematic areas, which are:
-Provide free temporal accommodation for teenage mothers at risk of becoming homeless ,
- Online and locations counselling / information sharing on Gender Based Violence,SRHR,
- Empowerment through educational scholarships and vocational training on Hair braiding and dress design,
- provide daycare at "Just like mammas daycare " to allow our teenage moms return to school or get vocational training of their choice.
I raise my voice to say Zero Tollerance to cultural stigmatization on teenage pregnancy.
You are not alone so let's raise our voices together .
If you are out there and you want to join Catherine Djiemo Foundation on this journey, you are welcome.
We are now looking for sponsors,mentors, materials ,partners . Together we are stronger.