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Girl Talk

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Growing up as a teenager many of my friends had issues with the subject I am about to write on. This topic is of utmost importance considering the fact that it addresses a very crucial aspect of teenage-hood; a point where every teenager ought to be guided. This, however, does not seem to be the case as both parents and teens shy away from discussing relationship startups as I would like to call them.

Once a child gets to a certain age, thinks become different. He/she experiences changes in physical appearance, raging hormones, emotional affinities and so on. All of these things come all at once and may be very confusing. As if that is not enough worry, they discover that they become attracted to the opposite sex. For a teenage girl, this is very important because it can either make or mar her self-esteem.

Almost all teenagers have no idea of what to do when caught in this web. They can’t tell how their parents will react to such news, and in most cases, they feel they have no one to talk to. It is important for parents to realize that having a male friend early in life is not a taboo. The main thing is to teach your daughter how to nurture such a friendship in the most acceptable way possible, and not forgetting other aspects of her life that are equally important.

Intimacy brings along with it, bond, likeness, faithfulness, and sometimes true love. When a young girl gets a new female friend and they spend almost their time together they grow to love themselves like sisters, this also happens when they become close to the opposite sex. In this case, however, there is the possibility of misguided judgment which may lead to heartbreak and other adverse ripple effects.

With proper guardiance, every teenage girl will know how best to manage emotions, how best to guide her heart and her thoughts, and how best to nurture a prospective relationship to an expected end.

How can this be done? “Awareness”, help the girl-child to know the nitty-gritty of this norm and this can be effectively done when their parents especially their mothers become involved in the social-life of the young child.

The role of a mother is all too important in the life of a girl-child, especially at the teenage stage.

 

Your role as a mother

 

You are to guide her and not scare her: many mothers often miss this point, instead of showing the child the right path they instill fear in them by telling them things that are unrealistic. This is very wrong because when they find out the truth, they will never believe anything you say and will begin to hide their social lives from you.

Educate her don’t cheat her: many mothers cheat their daughters by keeping them away from many truths which they end up learning outside the home. Also, you have to be careful about the things you introduce to them, dp proper research to be abreast with current occurrences so that you can relate appropriately.

Encourage her don’t judge her: the teenage stage is filled with too many ups and downs, so you don’t have to be their antagonist because they are already faced with mostly emotional troubles. Many teenagers end up developing mood swings and low self-esteem because no one ever noticed their emotional challenges. Some even come out of their comfort zones to share their burden but many parents shut them out by negative reactions.

What they need to know:

  1. Girls need to know that it is normal to develop feelings for a close male friend: Feelings point to the fact that you care about a person. As a parent helping the child manage this situation is important. If you have a healthy relationship with your child, she should be able to tell what she feels for any guy. Even if she is not able to tell you, your relationship with her helps to detect such situations. In many cases some girls many not know when they like a guy until they start getting jealous. But you can notice it and point it out to them, and also guide them through the process.

As a mother don’t stop at discussion be keen on helping the child do it right. Do not be careless about the decisions they make, care about their decisions and work with them to achieve it.

  1. Girls must know that feelings do not change who they are: for some teenagers, having discovered that they are beginning to develop feelings for their male friends, they decide to end the relationship because they are scared or not ready for a romantic relationship. As a parent, you must help her know that that is not the best of reactions. Getting to know the company your daughter keeps will also enable you to render proper advice where necessary.
  2. Girls must realize that they can be hurt: many girls grow up in an environment where they were immensely loved and as a result, they never think that the outside world holds both negative and positive scenes. When a teenage girl experiences heartbreak for the first time it changes her perception of life.

Parents can help to prevent such result with proper education. Having said that, be careful not to put fear in them but rather let them know that mistakes and failures are a part of life which makes people strong and better.

Mothers must learn to talk with their girls, they must become team mates with their female children. Mother must go the extra miles to save their children from mistakes, this is one way to make the world a better place because the results are passed on from generations to generations.

 

Image: expertbeacon.com

 

By: Mwila Mwila

I was a very happy, charismatic, intelligent, ambitious, beautiful young girl with a bright future, taking life by its horns and educationally competing on a National level, and beating boys in higher Grades. I was growing up in an extended religious home that suddenly fell apart after the death of an uncle that kept the family knitted together and provided for it.

Although I was only about three years of age, I can vividly recount in details, the violent events leading to my parent’s divorce, and the quick remarrying of my father, when I was almost four years of age. Though both parents were still alive, I never really had a stable home or a permanent family to live with after that, going from one home to the other, with my grandmother’s home to always fall back on, and she was a vicious, fierce task master that didn’t take nonsense and beat me badly almost every day.

Despite all this, I was a very happy, loud and hard-working skinny girl, in every family home I ended up with, playing a leading role in house chores, so as to feel accepted and loved, and it worked out perfectly.

When I was twelve years old, I went to live with my Mom for almost 6 months in another beautiful serene city, where she got a beautiful apartment, after finding a job and meeting a man who was to marry her, although he was already married. Now, those were the happier months of my teenage years, but they were unfortunately short lived. When my Mother lost her job and had relationship problems with her married man, she had what only now in my grown up years, could diagnose as an emotional breakdown, which made her take off, leaving me alone in the house without informing anyone, until my Granny got the reports and came for me. I again had to move cities back to my Grandmother and another new school.

When I arrived in the new school, I had the attention of every famous boy in the school and vicinity I lived. I was the favourite of teachers of the entire School, most, of whom would take me to classes and grades higher than I was in, to give me questions to answer on the board in front of an entire classroom and I would get them right. This action would be used to shame every pupil in those classes. As a result, girls envied me and boys’ egos wanted to be associated with me.

I was the best debater, dancer, and everything you could think of, except Sports.

 

The envy from girls and admiration from boys, became even worse when I participated in a School Beauty Contest, which Ieft me crowned the reigning Queen of the School, I was only 12 years old.

Weeks after that Contest, which had made me very famous, not only in school, but in the city, my Married Male Class Teacher, whom I loved and respected, because I thought he loved and favoured me, asked me to take books he needed to remain with for marking after school, to his tiny dark school office. Well, I did not see anything wrong with that since I was usually the favourite with every teacher in every School I went to. When I opened the office door, putting the books on the table, my teacher whom I assumed to have remained in class, was unexpectedly behind me. He quickly closed the door behind him violently grabbed me and kissed me disgustingly deeply. After he finished, he looked at me and said he had been trying hard to stop himself from what just happened, to no avail. He said he fell for me from the moment I arrived at the school and that he finally had to tell me that he was in love with me.

I remember how shattered I felt, the fear that gripped me and the confusion and disappointment I felt, with that being my first kiss, and it was not from the person I had ever dreamed of being with, or even the way I had imagined my first kiss would be.

Now, you have to bear in mind that, the school was my refuge and escape from all the physical abuse I was suffering at home, so after the kissing incident, I was left defenseless and I just hated school from that day onwards. I remember I would leave the house in the morning and pretended to be going to school, but never arriving there. I would sometimes go and read in the nearby bushes, as we had no libraries in my vicinity or closer and I would wait for school time to pass, so I could go back home, which made my grades, social life and confidence drop drastically.

I didn’t trust my teacher after that, I hated him and I was suddenly afraid of him. I couldn’t bear being around him.

When National exam time came, qualifying pupils to leave Primary School to High School, I went through and wrote the National Exams and I passed with flying colors, into a Girls High School that only took up very intelligent girls, something my Granny and family expected.

 

 

Arriving at the New school about 4 months late, due to lack of funds and school provisions, a Geography teacher tried taking advantage of me. I escaped, insulted and hated and in disappointment, I further grew disinterested in men and school, growing more and more interest in the Library and self-education.

The biggest pain of my teenage years, was not having anyone to trust who could take me seriously and fight for me should I had reported such incidences, as I was once beaten for trying to report an attempted rape in a naïve manner to my Granny, by a close relative, being only a kid then, who told me I should never ever be heard to repeat such things ever again.

Anyway, shortly, after arriving in high School, and the Geography teacher incident, I stumbled upon a group of Girls who were radical christians, and there, I recommitted my life to God and from thereafter, I grew a sudden boldness and a courage that had me fearlessly confronting anybody else who ever tried such advances on me, and I was nowhere close to being taken advantage of ever again.

I had learned to fight against Old Senseless men, and my life regained control again.

By: Mwila Mwila

A Fantastic Job Well was done to everyone who has been in the forefront in the fight for Girl-Child educational Campaigns all across Africa and everyone from the Western Countries who spear headed and or funded any of such Campaigns.  It is such a joy, we have almost crossed the hurdles and impediments of Girl Child Educational hindrances in Africa, although free elementary education still remains a parliamentary debate on the lips of so many obviously unconcerned politicians, who usually bring up such debates only to come across as relevant, for votes or to maintain their political positions. But hey, with further pushing and a little more added pressure, we will be able to speak of an African with at least free Elementary education. And we sure can.

It is good to note that, today, most Africans can testify to the fact that, that old Custom traditional mentality, that hindered and stopped girl child education with beliefs that investing in a girl’s Education is a sheer waste of time, limiting  her role to that of house chores, getting married, having as many babies, raising a family and, or maybe work somewhere as a house helper , or in a restaurant, is almost a complete wiped off  myth, even in the remotest parts of  the Sub-Saharan Africa, as the educational awareness Campaigns for a girl Child’s education continues to spread, raising the confidence and self-esteem of many girls, who thankfully now dream of becoming something bigger and better than just a homemaker.

This sure once was an uphill battle, but it is almost completely won as more and more girls are in schools  and in the past two decades, it has become normal to see girls graduate and going on further  to assume National, Continental and even up to Global Leadership roles formerly mostly dominated by Male figures only.

Having founded a Foundation for Children and Youth Educational, Social and Economic Empowerment, at a very tender age, which obviously demands me to travel extensively, especially to the remotest parts of African countries, on speaking engagements, taking donations and spotting  vulnerable but  determined children and youth to connect with well-wishers, willing to quietly, and on personal basis, out of their own good will, invest in individual scholarships, it has been sad for me to note that, while the battle for girl-child education is clearly being won, the foundation on which to breed happier, fulfilled educated girls and women leaders still lays fallow, as, after all, the problem hasn’t been a lack of Education all along, but rather a conducive and Loving environment where a girl child can grow up in, feeling protected, fought for and supported by especially her family members, Customary, Society, and Government Laws.

Now while the campaign for girl-child education in Africa mostly started off with the Western Countries breaking the customary  paradigms in most of our founding Leaders, discouraging the traditions that hindered and stopped girls from pursuing an education, after they themselves noted by experience that educating girls is a sure-fire way to raise economic productivity, lower infant and maternal mortality, improve nutritional status, health, and radically reduce poverty, which most men wouldn’t handle correctly with some things being inherent, I believe the fight to create an atmosphere conducive to raise African girls on, will have to come from African Leaders themselves, who will have to create very strict  and tight Laws that will make anyone think twice before they can violate a girl-child. When others see perpetrators brought to justice harshly, it certainly will bring about a pause and some ripple effects.

And this change will need to extend beyond the government, to engage families, the opinion leaders, traditional Leaders, religious leaders, the elders and their chiefs, in an effort to change attitudes and paradigms, as they are often the gatekeepers. African families and parents especially must be taught to build much closer, intimate and trusting relationships with their own children in order to create an atmosphere conducive enough for emotional vulnerability and help influence their life choices at teenage age.  I strongly agree that the education brought to us by the Western leadership has greatly helped liberate the minds of many teenage girls in Africa, who are now growing up with ambitions other than the former school of thought that limited girls to the kitchen and child bearing and has done a lot of good on the Continent, but greater Continental developmental responsibility remains unattended on the part of the African family elders and Leaders.

Through my interactions with so many teenage girls around Africa, I have sadly noted that despite the educational liberation, many teenage girls still remain unprotected sexually and feel not just let down by the Law, by also greatly violated.

As cheap news as it may sound, a blind eye and deaf ear can’t continue to be given to the fact that, two out of four girls in Africa have been sexually violated from a very tender age by Men and Women with untamed sexual urges in the name of tradition, culprits who know the Law and society is too weak to protect your Girls and Children at large,  hence what should be shocking rape incidences don’t even qualify to make Headline News in our African Continent, unless it is a political vendetta where obviously someone gains something out of it.

 

It is contrary to the very tenets of humanity that our defenseless young girls are being preyed upon by mostly adult men and some women without strict sanctions.

Some of the bigger causes of these issues are the power relations between older men and young vulnerable teenage girls‚ which is often compounded by poverty‚ customs and tradition that turn a blind eye to such violence. How I look for the Africa soon to form, that will instead of celebrating‚ encouraging, ignoring or just merely laugh about the practice of traditions that violate  a teenage girl while stealing her childhood and innocence, would instead strongly condemn such inhumane, outdated and out of hand practices or else the girl-child educational empowerment positive strides which have been made will keep producing bitter angry women who are themselves incapable of making happy homes and raising fulfilled confident Children.

 

And most of our unfought for teenage girls who have been victims of rape forced marriages and teenage pregnancies, tend to reveal numerous health complications for the young girls of their age. These range from HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) to pregnancy related complications such as infant mortality and maternal mortality, lowering their life expectancy, yet still, no strict Laws seem to be put into place to protect our girl-child. And many girls that have fought to beat the odds, usually become educated angry and bitter women with a short life expectancy due to infectious diseases passed onto them during rape.

Well, I assume by now the whole world has heard about the Nigerian Chibok Girls, I won’t be getting into it in this article at least. For now, maybe the world also has to hear enough to provoke action, about the Hyena man in Malawi, the HIV Positive man, who raped and infected over 80 teenage girls as young as 12 years old in the name of tradition. How it could even get to more than 80 girls and even just how this man could easily talk about it to press with a smile shows what an uphill battle it is for the liberation of a Girl -Child from her Sexual predators.

And then we have what is called,  Ukuthwala, a tradition which is still being practiced, particularly in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, which involves the kidnapping, rape and forced marriage of minor girls as young as 12 years of age, by grown men old enough to be their grandfathers. This tradition which steals innocence causes an abrupt end to a girl’s Childhood and the care free existence that all children are entitled to, is strongly upheld in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa in this day and age.

Can you imagine? Suddenly the little girl is a wife with a husband and almost instantly, her own Children and in-laws to serve or look after.

It is things like these that most teenage girls are still suffering from in Africa.  Actually, my own Research on this tradition has proven that the majority of the girls and young women who are victims of Ukuthwala are from poor families and later in life, their lack of education and underdevelopment due to this tradition deepens their poverty and perpetuate the cycle of poverty.

My Mom often says, in several instances, the children born into poverty also tend to be poorer as grownups, which  contributes to the cycle of poverty in the communities around Africa, even though the issue of rape is not only in the poorer areas but also very apparent in the average and wealthy areas, even though in such places it is often disguised  and subtly labelled as  ” Romantic” relationships.

 

I once visited a teenage girl in jail serving a sentence, for strangling to death and throwing a baby she had given birth to, in a pit latrine toilet in one of the South African locations, and when she opened up to me on how she fell pregnant, without coming across as condoning what was done to the baby, who also had a right to life, I somehow understood her bitterness that led to her action. She was bitter against the man that had abused her and impregnated her without anyone doing anything about it, and she couldn’t conceive the thought of seeing the man in that child for the rest of her life and even if the child was to be given up for adoption, she basically didn’t want her abuser alive and since she couldn’t masculine him, she, unfortunately, had to take out her pressure in that child.

When I was a teenager growing up in Lusaka, Zambia, a family I knew   closely and often visited, went through a trauma, in which their only 12-year-old Daughter was discovered to have had sex with all the male workers at their residence, and this family had more than 5 male workers including an older man, who was over 74 years old, working as a gardener at the same Residence. When the lady maid in the helper caught one of the five workers having sex with the 12 years old girl, the daughter of the house, the guy then decided to reveal that he was not the only one having sex with this girl and if he had to go to jail all of the male workers had to go with him as they all had slept with her including  this over 74-year-old man. What was even sadder was that, after being tested for HIV, they were all tested positive for HIV including this teenage girl. Now what shocked me even though, I was only a 15 year old teenager myself at that time, was the fact that, after the hype of that week, none of these men were jailed for more than three months, and the oldest man even got released within a few days of bail hearing, because apparently, while he could manage to have sex with this young girl,  he was too old and frail to go to jail or serve a prison sentence for this. I was only a teenager, but I remember how my spirit sunk as my Mom broke that news to me. Unfortunately, everyone including my Mom seemed to blame this 12-year-old girl for sleeping with over 5 men, and I remember fighting that, it was totally unjust to blame this girl as she was young and although already a Christian at that time,  vengeance seemed to be burning in my heart against these men, I longed for some sort of harsh spiritual punishment against them, just somehow, since the Zambian Law had failed my wish and I felt so disappointed in the Government and Police, it was actually at that point, I lost confidence in our Zambian Police Services. For the very first time, I faced the harsh reality that justice does not exist for a girl Child in my Country.

Three years ago, I visited a dear wonderful family in Zimbabwe and my friend told me of a story that had brought such shame in their family, where my friend’s Grandfather, impregnated a 14-year-old girl in the extended family who was given to him to help with his house chores as he mourned the passing of his wife he had been married to since his youth, my friend’s Grandmother.

Upon confrontation, after people noticed the pregnancy of this 14-year-old teenage girl, his excuse was of course tradition. Asked to marry this girl and sad enough, he was allowed to take this teenage girl for a wife. I’m talking about a man in his late 80’s.

My question is, how could sex with a minor still be labeled tradition, turn into marriage and think we are a liberated Continent celebrating various years of independence? Who really got liberated in Africa?

In 2016, it was discovered that more than 2‚000 girls under the age of 18 in the rural Ratlou Local Municipality‚ about 70km outside Mahikeng in North West, had been impregnated‚ mostly by older men and the youngest mother was reported to be a teenager of only 12 years. Now, I visited this place and what shocked me was that there were no reports of rape from any of the girls I spoke with or their families, a pain that has eaten my soul as I serve my Continent in South Africa.

One time, I remember, having sexual pictures in evidence of a married Church Leader, with a Congregation of over five thousand members who was having sex with a 15-year-old teenage girl, to an extent of exchanging nude pictures and videos with her.

When this girl discovered that this Minister was also having sex with her friend in the same Church, she got heart broken and decided to approach me and talk to me. Well, not because she wanted to finally spill the beans, but because she was heartbroken, with this guy being her very first Love, and he had sworn he was in love with her and she had of course believed him as any child would, and had been having an affair with her for 4 years by the time she was 15 years old, when she approached me, while still attending the same Church. When I heard this and saw the evidence, which she had in fact sworn to delete, but kept some for fun, I decided to approach her family, as I needed consent to take this Pastor to Jail and Bouy was that the mistake of my life?

This family which seemed upset at the news and welcoming my idea of handing this man to the authorities, went behind my back the next day, approached the Pastor, who offered them a few Dollars and then went ahead and turned the girl against me.

The next time I bumped into this girl, a few months later after that incident, she was in the vehicle with this pastor and a few other men and one lady, accompanying their Pastor on a trip to preach outside of town. Of course, you don’t think I bought her being part of the team was innocent, do you? But what else could I have done when the family of the girl could easily make money out of the 15-year-old teenage girl? I was disempowered.

 

As I mentioned earlier, the change to bring about the protection of teenage girls will need to extend beyond the government, to engaging families, traditional leaders, religious leaders, elders and chiefs in an effort to change paradigms, traditions, and attitudes as they are often the gatekeepers, even in the girl-child’s life. Any community and any National development hugely depend on its people and this includes the level of health, knowledge and educational skills and the resources controlled by those people.

 

I have had so  many sad experiences that not only leave me and many other people involved with different organizations dealing with teenage girls and women shocked, but handcuffed and disempowered to do anything at all to protect such girls where families prefer getting funds out of their abuse, with  the police advising me that no case can be opened unless the family gave full consent, probably not realising the defining depth of Male’s involvement in a Girl’s life especially at early development stage which influences her future life, shapes her Perception and Opinion of MEN, Self-Esteem, Self-image, and Confidence, either in a Positive or a Negative way. Sad.

Surely, unprecedented and decisive action has to be put into place to end such and maybe even send some parents and relatives to jail for contributing to this ill through financial gain. Honestly, when 2 000 underage girls show up pregnant in one small community and mostly by older Men, indicates a pandemic that lays in the fabric of that society.

 

A certain 45 years old lady I met in Swaziland, was raped when she was only 15 years old in School, by her class Teacher, she got pregnant and gave birth to a boy, who is now in his 20’s,  and all these years later, she is still trying to learn to  accept  and Love,  something that is not easily spoken about in our African Societies, as most people don’t understand the future repercussions of sexual abuse on the emotional and mental life of a girl  growing up into a woman. What is even more insane is that this rapist is still a School teacher.

Think about it, how many teenage girls are his victims today since the one family refused to speak out for fear of shame in the community, or getting little funds out of it, or simply letting it go?

 

And by the way, if it is a Woman found to be sexually abusing a teenage girl, it is not even considered a taboo in Africa and yet we now deal with such many cases where teenage girls confide in us of how an Aunty or Helper uncomfortably touches their private parts in the name of girl’s playful time.

 

I know the issue of sexual abuse has been spoken of, over and over in Africa, until as I mentioned earlier, does not even make Headline News, unless it is a political feud, where something is in it for someone somewhere, hence it becomes more and more shocking for me when I hear Bills that states that children between the ages of 12 and 15 can consent to sexual acts with each other, being adopted by the South African National Assembly and get signed into Law. It is shocking that, these elders have failed and literally done nothing to fight the highest Sexual abuse Predators in the Nation and now, despite the World Health Organization warning and confirming that South Africa has the highest number of HIV infected cases in the World, they can still pass such a law for a child whose brain is scientifically proven to not have been developed enough to make reliable emotional decisions of their own, normalizing what should be regarded as sexual offenses and wiping off the guilty of all adults that once or repeatedly touches these young girls. I always say, I wish our African Politicians in Parliaments and various positions  could go beyond Political Positions, titles, fame, and glamour, once in a while, leave their offices, take off their expensive Suits, be disguised as youth Workers or Missionaries, come with us to our Project centres, personally interact with many of the teenagers and Youth out in the Communities, I believe they would rule better and we would see Africa develop rapidly, because then, they will know exactly what they need to do from first-hand experience and personal interactions with the people they are leading, instead of this near election time, generous attitudes which even the dullest person knows to be manipulation and a lack of Leadership.

 

I can, therefore, summarize the challenges African Teenage Girls suffer into two major parts: Traditions that steal their innocence and Loose Constitutional Laws that fail to protect the rights of innocent defenseless teenage girls and Children.

 

I remember recently holding the shoulder of a heart broken sobbing man in South Africa, whose teenage daughter was raped by his long time older neighbor friend, married with older Children. When this man took the case to the police, nothing much could be done as this man was influential in the community and the police could use a little bribe after all, so it was another weak end for another Teenage girl.

My thinking always is, couldn’t Courts and systems be put in place, specifically for such matters, where it will be impossible for culprits to escape standing trial? Because there has been no harsh punishment rendered, this continues to be an epidemic, that keeps destroying  what Girl-child educational empowerment campaigns are building and have built through the years, making the future of Africa so blur as Women decide to play masculine roles out of Bitterness for lack of Protection.

See, we often have Celebrated Visible DIFFERENT TYPES OF Cancer Survivors, But we forget and have through the years ignored one of the worst and deadliest forms of Cancer, that has killed and Continues to claim the lives of More Women, baby Girls and Teenage Girls, more than Breast or Cervix Cancer has ever claimed, and this particular Cancer is called: Girl-Child ABUSE CANCER.

As a matter of fact, there are more YOUNG GIRLS AND women who are suffering from and Die of Emotional Wounds THAN PHYSICAL SICKNESS IN SOME LONELY CONER SOMEWHERE all over the Continent of Africa, disappointed that no one could protect their innocence. Actually different forms of physical Cancers in Women is proven to mostly be caused by emotional wounds which usually turn into stress and severe Chronic Depression, causing Physical Cancers.

Most sexually abused Girls who have grown into Women, barely Exist, because the Will to LIVE gets stolen from them by Cruel Men and are often proven not to have a normal Life, without proper help Love and counseling, and are also proven to have a short Lifespan. Hence the reason I say, A WOMAN WHO IS A SEXUAL ABUSE VICTIM, WHO DESPITE ALL THE TRAUMA, is DETERMINED TO LIVE AND NOT JUST MERELY EXIST AND CONTINUE RISING AGAINST ALL ODDS, even unto the betterment of human life is WORTH CELEBRATING, and especially by Sane Men out there, who are willing to put up a fight to protect Women against Sexual abuse!

Saving a Girl’s life even if it’s from a single cause of death means saving Many Lives likely to live quite a while longer. May their rise an urgency in the Law to strictly Protect a Girl-Child in Africa!

 

Mwila Mwila

Ground Takers Foundation(GTF)

Email: itsmwilamwila@gmail.com

Cell: +27 84 539 7102

 

By: Moreblessing Vushe

 

My name is Moreblessing Vushe. I am 24 years old and my story is as follows:

Child marriage is real and it cripples the girls’ progress towards her goals.

At the age of 14, soon after I completed my grade 7, I was forced to marry my sister’s husband so that I can help her to raise her children and do other jobs at her home since she is crippled. I was devastated but had no choice. I had to drop out of school and no one considered the fact that I had the right to education. The dream of finishing school never came true.

I got married and stayed with my sister. I did every household chore including fetching firewood, water, and the gardening. This was the hardest time of my life. Food was a problem as we would sometimes go to a nearby boarding school to get leftovers from the school children. I got pregnant and gave birth to a dead child. I wanted to go to school but the husband shut the idea.

My father died two months after I gave birth to my child and I went back to my father’s house since he was the one who had forced me to get married. I walked out of that marriage although I knew that my sister wanted my help so much.

My brother took me from the rural areas to come to Harare so that I will go back to school. I went straight into form 3 although I had dropped out of school when I completed my grade 7 in 2007. It was hard during the first times since I had skipped form one and three and had spent 5 years out of school. However, I did not lose hope. I worked very hard, read day and night. I wrote my O-Level the following year and scooped 6As and 3Bs. I only wrote 9 subjects.

I decided to proceed to A-level. My brother started to have financial problems. I only managed to do my form 5 from January to September when things got worse. We had to move back to our rural areas. Up until the year-end, I was not going to school. I used to cry day and night but unfortunately crying does not solve anything. The following year my uncle asked me to come and stay with him so that I could finish school. He wanted me to restart my A-level since I had not finished my form 5 but I refused because I wanted to proceed. I wrote my A-level that year and I obtained 14 points,( Accounting A, Mathematics B, and Business Studies A).

As soon as our results were out, I started looking for a scholarship because I knew my mom and brother could not afford university fees. Luckily, a local company offered support and I was admitted at the University of Zimbabwe. I was happy thinking that I will finish my degree easily.

The company only paid for one semester and stopped. Maybe it was because of the economic situation. The following semester they did not respond. I tried talking to the management but it was hopeless.

For a moment, I thought schooling was not meant for me. I did not know what to do.
I got a job as a maid to a local Chinese family, and I worked during the weekends. I used my small salary to start my small business of buying bales of second-hand clothes and selling them. I wanted to generate more money so that I can be able to pay my fees but unfortunately, I broke down because I could not manage the pressure; I had school and needed to be at work during the weekends. However, I managed to pay my fees for second and third semesters. I again lost the job because sometimes I could not make it during other weekends because I would have my in-class tests during weekends at school.

Now I am about to go into my fourth semester and no matter how dark the situation might seem to be, I know I will get there. Now I was promised a job at a local private college to teach during weekends and the evenings. I will be able to fund my education again.

Today, I am proud of myself. I am proud of the battles I have fought and of those, I am still fighting. I know I will get there no matter what. It is by God’s grace. I am proud to tell you that even I skip school some days because of lack of bus fare but I still manage to get those distinctions. Up until now, I have 11 distinctions and 8 2.1s from 19 modules I have done so far.

This is my story. I hope to finish school and be able to help my sister in another way. I learned one thing “never give up”.

My advice to the girl child is that you need to believe that something inside you is superior to your circumstances. No matter how hard the situation might be, put prayer first and carry on. Everything happens for a reason. In the middle of every difficult situation, there lies opportunity. You just need to drive yourself because the man that will drive himself further once the efforts get painful is the one who will win.

Inferiority complex has been defined as a lack of self-worth, doubt, and uncertainty about oneself and feelings of not measuring up to standard. It is a sign of low self-esteem. 

It is possible for an individual to feel this way without even knowing it. While the emotions are often subconscious, it often compels its victims to overcompensate in their performance. This can either take the form of outstanding performance or an anti-social ethic. This feeling is very common among teenagers.

Teenagers who are victims of inferiority complex may either exhibit it in their excellent performance in academic activities or may become antisocial and may even become a danger to themselves. The greater the feeling of inferiority that has been experienced, the more powerful the urge and the more violent the emotional agitation.” – Alfred Adler

Teenagers fall victim of inferiority complex for various reasons; it may be hereditary, it may be an after effect of being bullied by a student in the same school, or may even be because of an emotional trauma.

Some signs of inferiority complex may include the following;

  • Heightened Sensitivity to Other People’s Opinions
  • Social Withdrawal 
  • Fault Finding
  • Place Own Needs Last
  • Crave For Flattery 
  • Performance Anxiety
  • Procrastination

The healing process for teenagers with inferiority complex should start internally and this can’t be achieved without the help of a guardian who will identify the cause of the problem and profer solutions; A guardian could be the parent or the teacher. After the child become aware of what is behind his/her emotional disruptions and outward behavior,  and through constant reiteration of the fact that he/she is as good as everybody else, the child will eventually let go of the thought of “not being good enough” to knowing him/herself as being enough.

We all have our different perceptions and definitions of bullying, some say it is a behavior, often repeated and habitual which involves the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate others; others have defined it as the use superior strength or influence to intimidate; while the Merriam Webster Dictionary, defines bullying as abuse and mistreatment of someone vulnerable by someone stronger, or more powerful.  

At some point in our teenage lives or high school, we may have been involved in Bullying, either as a victim or the bully, some of us left that phase of life with the thought, “thank God it’s over”; while others carried on to their adult lives, the effects of teenage bullying; scarred for life or became even bigger bullies in their adult life.

It’s no wonder various organizations have taken it upon themselves to ensure that the system finds ways to greatly reduce and suppress, if not eliminate bullying from the teen scene as they are the leaders of tomorrow. What a world it would be if we were being led by the bullies of yesterday.  

Studies by an organization BullyingNoWay; which advocates against bullying has shown that bullying causes physical and/or psychological harm.  The organization defines bullying to be an ongoing misuse of power in relationships through repeated verbal, physical and/or social behaviour that can involve an individual or a group misusing their power over one or more persons. Bullying can also happen in person or online, and it can be obvious (overt) or hidden (covert).

Why did I take out this much time to define and explain the term bullying? This is simple. We may have out grown that time, or left that phase behind, but in recent times and with the social media age, bullying has gotten bigger and meaner. You do not want your teenage girl to drop into some unexplainable depression because she is being bullied and she feels uncomfortable talking about it.

It’s quite unfortunate though that many parents are yet unable to identify the signs when their child is being bullied, so for this week, I have gathered a few points from Debbie Pincus, sharing from her 25 years’ experience of effective therapy and coaching, helping individuals, couples and parents to heal themselves and their relationships. Here she gives us tips to know the Signs, when your child is being bullied from an article on Empowering Parents. She says:

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Most kids aren’t going to come home and tell you that they’re being bullied—in fact, many won’t say anything. Your child might feel ashamed or worried that they are to blame somehow, and they become experts at keeping it all inside. What are the signs you need to know as a parent?

  • Reluctance to go to school or to get on the computer.
  • Your child’s mood changes after looking at their cell phone or going on Facebook.
  • Your child may not want to get on the school bus; begs you for rides to school every day.
  • Is frequently sick, with headaches and sleeping problems—and often wants to stay home from school.
  • You might notice damaged or missing belongings, or that your child keeps losing money or other valuable items.
  • Unexplained injuries or bruises.
  • Your child doesn’t seem to be eating his lunch—he comes home unusually hungry, or his lunch comes back home with him.
  • He might be moody, anxious, depressed, or withdrawn.

While exhibiting one or more of these signs might not necessarily mean that your child is being bullied (or cyberbullied), these are important things to pay attention to if you suspect something is going on.

That said, I will be coming back in the following weeks, with tips on what you should do as a parent, when your teenager is being bullied.

See you then.

Boma Benjy Iwuoha

What is her opinion about herself, religion, or people of a different race?

By – Boma Benjy Iwuoha

I recently came across a piece by Dr. Diva Verdun, called Guarding the Concrete Slab.  It was a story about an army barracks that had  4 soldiers on post, guarding a concrete slab and changing shifts, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, for over 80 years. They never sought to find out why they were on constant shifts, guarding the concrete slab, until a new commander was assigned to the barracks. When the new commander asked why the soldiers guarded the concrete slab, he got the answers; “We’ve always done it this way, it’s our tradition or our former commanders instructed us to do this”.

The new commander eventually found answers to his questions in an old document in the archives, and guess what; guarding the slab was an instruction issued by a retired commander. The instruction stated that the barracks wanted to build a platform where events were to be performed at the time, but animals kept walking over the concrete at night before the slab would dry. So the commander ordered 4 soldiers to guard the slab for 3 weeks round the clock until it would dry. The commander was transferred to another post two weeks later, and the subsequent new commander continued to enforce the routine and every new commander always did the same. No commander ever questioned why soldiers were guarding a concrete slab that was never used until 80 years later when the “questioning”commander came in asked the question “why”.

Why did I go through this long story? Here’s the thing, raising teenage girls is not a simple by-the-book routine, they can be pretty curious. What worked for Mum A, may wreak havoc in the life of Mum B and her teenage daughter. It is important to ask questions before copying or enforcing any rules in our households or on your teen daughters. Many parents treat their daughters like a pet project. Every individual is different, with a different way of doing, appreciating and understanding things.

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When I was teenager, an aunt asked me to stay away from a particular friend of mine at the time or I would be seen as a girl of loose morals, because she was from a particular tribe and the girls of that tribe were “believed” to have loose morals. Hahaha! How funny was that? I had known the girl in question since kindergarten and we had been friends. I asked her “Even Daria?” (My friend) and her response was; “As far as she is from that tribe”. Maybe my aunt had believed in that for so long and was ready to pass the knowledge down to the next generation even though she had no proper explanation for that belief. Well, I asked everyone questions about the loose morals significance, until I got a clearer picture. How was I able to do this fearlessly? I had just turned 13 at the time and I wasn’t afraid that I would be seen as forward or too inquisitive. I was raised in a family where asking questions is encouraged.

My parents encouraged us to ask questions if we needed more clarifications or were unsure about the answers we got. We were taught to seek a second opinion if we were not satisfied with the answers we had. It eventually paid off I must say. They raised 3 formidable women who would not be browbeaten into status quo.

It’s important to encourage your teenage daughters to ask questions and have opinions of their own, to seek answers when they are unclear about situations. It fosters better relationships, within and outside the family, teaches them to have a voice and never be boxed blindly into following someone else’s opinion.

Above all, teaching them to speak up and ask questions; helps you avert avoidable mistakes and cut across unnecessary barriers. Do not forget, a stitch in time saves 9. They are not being forward, they are asking for guidance.

Allow room for questions when they come to you, especially. Teenagers are exposed to different sources of information, at church, in the school, at the friend’s house, the opinions of the baseball coach etc. 

It is the job of the parents or guardians to create and allow a conducive atmosphere for curiosity, and constructive criticism; it’s all part of growing up and they will be better for it. Allow your girl to have an opinion.

“What is her opinion about herself, religion, people of a different race, politics, certain business opportunities, new products etc.?” Is it what you fed her?, Is she open to new opinions and information or closed up on what you fed her?, Will she wake up 80 years later and tell her grandchildren that they should keep away from a particular tribe?

Guide them right, guide them now, they’re not forward, they seek to know and curiosity is a part of learning.