ADAMA, 17 YEARS OLD
When I was 10 my parents sent me to live with my Aunt. I was going to school but I had to work at home as well.
I was doing the laundry, cooking, cleaning, fetching water. Then when I was 13, my Aunt sent me out to sell. I got up at 2am to walk to Freetown to sell Wonderstoves.
We went in groups of three, and it would take us to around 4am to get there. We would look for guys who were selling tea, because it was safe by them. I was afraid. And I was tired at school. I was going maybe twice a week. Then less. And there was never much for me to eat.
Now I don’t go to school. I stopped going altogether when I got pregnant.
The father was someone I knew from the community. He offered to pay for me to eat if I had sex with him, so I did. He was the only person in the world who tried to support me. But then I got pregnant.
My family drove me from the house when they found out.
They asked me who he was, and I pointed him out - but he denied the baby was his. Then he disappeared. I felt bad, I felt betrayed. Even if he had to go, he should have helped me to know where he is.
He just disappeared into the air. He doesn’t come around anymore.
After my family threw me out I went to a friend’s house. That’s where I stay now. I'm not able to go to school and I feel bad about that. My friends are all in class and I don’t have the courage to go back. To them I will just be the pregnant girl. I watch my friends pass by on their way to school. They wave to me. But our relationship is different. They see me as a drop-out. My teachers don’t know I’m pregnant, I wouldn’t want them to. When they come around I hide.
When my baby is born, I want to go back to school. School is great. For girls, learning is important. If you go to school and learn you can do anything. And men won’t bother us if we’re at school.
There are many things stopping girls going to school. If you can’t eat or if there’s no one there to look after you. It’s hard to learn without those things. It would be great if we had teachers that could help us understand things we have trouble with.
When people talk down to me because I’m pregnant, what I want to say back is: “I didn’t mean it, I didn’t want to be pregnant at this age. But I only wanted to get something to eat.” If I had the money, I’d be at school right now. But it would be hard. Because I’m pregnant people wouldn’t come close to me. That’s why when I’ve had my baby it will be better; I’ll be able to take on the privilege of returning to school.