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CAMEROON: Because They Sent Me Back to School

Nakinti
Posted September 29, 2016 from Cameroon

Nakinti works to make sure girls stay in school so they can learn to be leaders.

“If I was able to make it this far, the girls I work with will be able to as well.

When I discovered I was pregnant, my world came crashing down. I thought of how my classmates would look at me upon finding out. I thought of how my siblings would feel when they heard the news. And I thought of how my poor parents would react. I was only a high school girl. At a time when my studies should have been my focus, poverty and ignorance played a fast one on me.

Though I had been born and raised in a middle class home, by the time I reached secondary school, my family had plunged into the worst kind of poverty you can imagine. At that time, having enough food in our house was an uphill task. My siblings and I worked on the farm daily to either plant or harvest the crops that both sustained us and helped pay our school fees. We were nine children and we were all in school.

On several occasions, we missed school in order to work on the farm. Life was tough, but like they say, "Tough times don't last, but tough people do."

I applaud my parents every day because they didn't give up on our education. When they learned I was pregnant, they were shocked and devastated, but they told me I did the best thing in not aborting the baby. When my son was only six months old, they took him under their care, and even though our community advised them not to, they sent me back to school.

The opportunity they gave me to continue my studies I took as a challenge; I concentrated on reaching university and graduated top of my university class. Today, my parents are proud of me, not because I had a child, but because I proved our community wrong.

Telling my story, though, makes me cry. I look back at the community I grew up in and see that my age mates and classmates didn't make it as far as I have. Many dropped out of school because their parents either did not have money to continue sending them or could no longer make the financial sacrifice. In most cases, though, it was because they were girls.

I look back on my school days and remember girls who also became pregnant, but their parents didn’t send them back to school. I remember those who ended up leaving school when fees were raised. I remember them getting married early, getting pregnant early, and returning back to toil on the farms alongside their parents. If I close my eyes and think deeply, I remember girls who died of HIV and other health complications because they didn't have the money or knowledge to take care of themselves.

When I walk down into the village I grew up in, I cry every time for the teenagers I find pregnant and married there. And when I visit the village’s lone government secondary school, I lament at the number of teenage pregnancies and girl drop outs registered every year. My heart bleeds and compels me to act.

I am determined to change the paradigm. I want a world where girls will go to school and become great leaders. A world where girls will not only learn chemistry, literature, and English, but also sex education and leadership skills. It is for this reason that my organization, Rescue Women – Cameroon, has started creating "Girls Lead Clubs" in the most rural secondary schools in the country.

Since 2013 Rescue Women – Cameroon has provided 85 rural girls with scholarships to remain in school or go back to school. While our scholarships help meet the financial need to keep girls in school, we quickly learned that another kind of support is needed to help girls in school excel. Through our “Girls Lead Clubs” girls have the opportunity to learn more about themselves and their choices in life and strive for greatness. They receive mentoring, sex education, and courses on girls’ rights and leadership.

“Girls Lead Clubs” launched in two schools this September and will launch in three others next month. I am hoping to be in 50 schools by this time next year. We learned from the principal of one of the schools that it has registered ten pregnancies and six crude abortions in a single academic year, though it has less than 65 girls enrolled. This principal appreciates our endeavor to educate and empower girls so that they can complete their education.

When I look back at my education journey, I tell myself that it was worth every struggle. Instead of being one of those girls who dropped out of school, married early, or even died young, I am an educated and empowered woman who is determined to hold the hands of other girls who are at risk.

While the road is dark and bumpy, I know there is light at the end of the tunnel. If I was able to make it this far, the girls I work with will be able to as well. The journey has only begun.

I know that education is key, and I want all girls to get an education. One step at a time, we will get there.

 

Comments 34

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Jessica Foumena
Sep 29, 2016
Sep 29, 2016

Powerful story. Thank you for sharing. I feel your pain. How do you suggest we reduce teen pregnancy in Cameroon? This is an issue which is close to my heart. 

Nakinti
Sep 30, 2016
Sep 30, 2016

Dear Jessica,

Thank you for reading my piece. Reducing teenage pregnancy can be multidimensional, as for us in Rescue Women Cameroon, we are using the Girls Lead Club to teach girls sex education. We hope to use other strategies to achieve this dream.

Love you

Nakinti

Julie Collura
Sep 29, 2016
Sep 29, 2016

Nakinti,

Thank you for sharing your inspiring story. Indeed, education is the key, and educating girls is the highest return investment we can make in ending the cycle of poverty.

In sisterhood,

Julie

Nakinti
Sep 30, 2016
Sep 30, 2016

Dear Julie,

You are right -- educating girls is the highest return investment we can make in ending the cycle of poverty -- It really is.

Thank you Julie for those wise words. They inspire me.

Nakinti

Julie Collura
Oct 01, 2016
Oct 01, 2016

Keep fighting the good fight. I fight with you, sister. :)

Eyabi Majorie
Sep 30, 2016
Sep 30, 2016

Reading your story has touched me and it has made me realize how relevant it is to use our life experience to reach out to girls and women out there who are vulnerable to such realities of life.I also was a victim of such circumstance.I got pregnant in an early age but my parents did not give up on me.They sent me back to school and encouraged me to take my final exams.They took care of my one week old baby while i was writing exams and fortunately I passed with good grades.I gained admission into the University of Buea where i studied English Literature which I've used to tell other girls stories,encourage young girls to write and tell their own stories.

I currently volunteer  as Communication Officer with CLISSD Cameroon,an NGO founded in 2012 by Epamba Comfort(Mandela Washington Fellow 2016 and a World Pulse member)to promote the rights of young girls and women to education and sexual reproductive health. We educate girls on menstrual calculation using menstrual bracelet to prevent unwanted pregnancy and keep them in school.I will like us to work together for this sustainable social change.

Thanks

Eyabi Majorie

Cameroon-Buea

+237673237423

Nakinti
Sep 30, 2016
Sep 30, 2016

Dear Majorie,

We are in this together! I am happy we are using our experiences to change the world. Pregnancy should never be an end to a girl's education. I wish all parents can hear this, and I also hope all girls can focus and not get pregnant like us. But two wrongs can never make a right, so girls should return to school after pregnancy.

Wow, you are working with CLISSD? I know Comfort Epamba, we come from thesame ethnic group. Met her on facebook before her YALI mission. I am so attracted to the work she is doing. Wishing you girls a luck in your mission to change the world, one girl after the other.

Sending you love from Bamenda, Cameroon.

Nakinti Besumbu

JANEKALU
Sep 30, 2016
Sep 30, 2016

Hi Nakinta,thanks for sharing your story. I share your boldness .You never allowed the situation to crake your walls.

Thanks

Jane kalu

Nakinti
Oct 01, 2016
Oct 01, 2016

Dear Jane,

Thank you for always encouraging me with your kind words. I deeply appreciate.

With Love

Nakinti

Patricia Lindrio
Sep 30, 2016
Sep 30, 2016

Great Job Nakinti. Keep up the good work. :)

Nakinti
Oct 01, 2016
Oct 01, 2016

Dear Patsy,

Thank you so much. Much love.

Nakinti

MAUREEN BII
Sep 30, 2016
Sep 30, 2016

Nakinti, I applaud your work with the girls,its great knowing how important it is to give back and support others in need. I almost dropped too but i hang on until someone came to my rescue.Today i help others . keep up th good work

Nakinti
Oct 01, 2016
Oct 01, 2016

Bii,

The story of how you got education warms my heart every time I go back to read it. We are in this work together. Let's join forces and make life better for disadvantaged girls in our respective communities.

With Love

Nakinti

Traveling Librarian
Sep 30, 2016
Sep 30, 2016

Your story is so inspiring!  Blessings on your parents for supporting you, and blessings on you for giving back.  I love what you're doing!

Nakinti
Oct 01, 2016
Oct 01, 2016

Dear Traveling Librarian,

My parents are my true [s]heroes. I love them more for giving meaning to my life. I am happy I am able to give back. Thank you for reading my piece.

Sending you love from Cameroon

Nakinti  

Amei
Oct 01, 2016
Oct 01, 2016

Dear Nakinti,

I totally agree education is key for positive change. An inspiring story that definitely will motivate women/girls to persist without giving up. I salute your parents for not giving up on you. It is a great blessing to have insightful parents.

Wish you all the best for your great work.

Amei

Nakinti
Oct 01, 2016
Oct 01, 2016

Dear Amei,

You are correct -- education is key for positive change. I applaud my parents for giving a second chance that has changed my life for the better. I want many girls to have the same opportunity. I thank World Pulse for opening my eyes to social change -- this sharpened my vision for women and girls.

Thank you, dear Amei, for your kind words. Sending you love from Cameroon

Nakinti

Halima Rahman
Oct 01, 2016
Oct 01, 2016

This is a very powerful and inspiring story! Thank you for sharing!

Nakinti
Oct 02, 2016
Oct 02, 2016

Dear Halima,

Thank you for your kind words. Its a story I hold close to my heart

Love

Nakinti

K C Milan
Oct 01, 2016
Oct 01, 2016

Oh nice, wonderful, powerful and encouraging story. I am inspired.

Nakinti
Oct 02, 2016
Oct 02, 2016

Hi Kcmilan,

I am glad that you are inspired by my story. Thank you for taking time to read my story. Remain blessed

Nakinti

helen.ng
Oct 02, 2016
Oct 02, 2016

This is so inspiring!! It's great to hear how supportive your parents were of you continuing your education - look where you ended up today! Empowering others and leading by example - you are the genuine embodiment of a role model.

"Girls Lead Clubs" sounds like a fantastic initiative, and I'm glad that it is having such a positive impact on girls, which will help them open up their future to numerous possibilities.

Nakinti
Oct 02, 2016
Oct 02, 2016

Dear Helen.ng,

Is heartwarming to know that my story is inspiring. Thank you for re-echoing this fact. Truly, my parents were very supportive and that is why I am forming that pillar of support to other girls.

Thank you for you kind words, dear Helen.ng.

With love

Nakinti

CATHIE
Oct 04, 2016
Oct 04, 2016

Hi Nakinti,

What a powerful story you have shared ! I love your courage of turning your experience to empower other young ones and am proud of your parents for turning a deaf ear to the community and let you complete your studies. In most societies my inclusive people regard the act of a girl  getting pregnant from  school as an abomination and in most cases the girl is neglected and chased out of home by their own parents. I share the pain that you get when you walk down the village and pray that you keep striving with the organization.

Bright Blessings

Cathie.

Nakinti
Oct 04, 2016
Oct 04, 2016

Dear Cathie,

I am really appreciating my parents for not giving up on me. I am so happy I was able to reach this far. You are right, in most societies people actually regard teenage pregnancy as an abomination.I pray parents can start seeing things differently. However, I determined to stand in the gap for all girls who a battling with going to school because of poverty or pregnancy. Thank you Cathie for you sweet comment.

With love

Nakinti

Usha K.C.
Oct 05, 2016
Oct 05, 2016

Hi Nikinti,

It's really a powerful to inspire all . Thank you for sharing this story dear.

my respect to the true hero ( your parents)

keep it up.

Nakinti
Oct 05, 2016
Oct 05, 2016

Dear Usha,

Thank you so much. You are right, my parents are the true heros. I am because they are.

Thank you and lots of love

Nakinti

Pooja Varde
Oct 07, 2016
Oct 07, 2016

An amazing story!

God bless your parents for truly supporting you! :) With the power of supporting people around women and the opportunity to get the right education, women can do wonders - not only for themselves but for other women in their community as well!

Nakinti
Oct 13, 2016
Oct 13, 2016

Dear Pooja,

Women can truly do wonders for themselves and their communities if they are given the opportunity to get the right education. I am proud of my parents for the support they gave me.

With love

Nakinti

Anne Dupont
Oct 08, 2016
Oct 08, 2016

Dear Nakinti,

I love how you are using your life experience to pave the way for other young girls to reach their potential as women and leaders. The full impact of what you have started will not be known for years, but the ripple effects will spread far and wide.  We have a saying in an organization I work with that says "a hand forward and a hand back," referring the women that have helped us and those that we need to reach back and help.  You embody that spirit as a woman, leader and changemaker!  You are doing great work that is much needed.  Thank you.

Warmly,

Anne

Nakinti
Oct 13, 2016
Oct 13, 2016

Dear Anne,

My experience has been a great booster in my empowerment mission. "A hand forward and a hand back" -- I like this one -- I am going to borrow it and start using it from today. I am hoping to empower more girls. Thank you for you kind and encouraging words; they make me want to do more and more.

Sending you love from Cameroon, Anne.

Nakinti

Margaret Ngunang
Oct 08, 2016
Oct 08, 2016

Hello dear sister from Cameroon.  A very inspiring and motivational story.

Love the work you are doing out there and will like to support your work through training and capacity building when I am back home in December.

Looking forward to seeing you soon.

Nakinti
Oct 13, 2016
Oct 13, 2016

Hello dear sis Mngunang,

Thank you so much for offering a hand o support through training and capacity building. I will be looking forward to that in December.

Love

Nakinti

ARREY- ECHI
Oct 24, 2016
Oct 24, 2016

A very inspiring and moving story sis Nakinti. More Manyanga to your tireless efforts.