Kinshasia Johnson

I was at home one day and I was convinced that my phone was vibrating because I felt a vibration in my stomach. Every time I picked up the phone to check if I missed a call or a message, there was nothing there. At that time, I did not know that I was feeling a heartbeat.

My family started to suspect something was going on, because they did not hear me complaining about menstrual cramps. They asked me to do a pregnancy test just to be sure. After I did the test I found out that I was pregnant.

I was only 14 years old. What would people think of me? During that time, I was in third form at Bridgeport High School. I was a motivated, focused, goal-oriented student. I worried about the disappointments that others would feel once they found out I was pregnant.

My father was very angry. He used every opportunity he had to express that anger. He is a deacon at a church, and at that time he was caught between his faith and his pregnant daughter. He chose his faith. As a part of the congregational rules, having a teenaged daughter who was pregnant, you had two choices: Give up your position as a deacon, or sit in the back bench. He was willing to do neither.

That’s when my mother took me in to live with her, even though she was not working. With her being unemployed made life difficult, as she now had to take care of a pregnant teenager.

I registered to attend to Women’s Centre, but that was also challenging. There were many times I couldn’t afford bus fare to go to school. The Women’s Centre’s lunch program assisted me in many ways, as I was also not able to afford lunch. I must admit that the Women’s Centre played a very integral role in my holistic development. The counsellors provided emotional support and they never turned a blind eye. They guided me through the entire process and they still do up to this day. While attending the Centre, I was trying to maintain a levelled head because there is a lot of stigma that is attached to being a teenage mother. I wanted to ensure that I did not end up being a statistic. I aimed to be a revolutionised young woman.

Nevertheless, it was still very difficult being a teen mom, and being reintegrated into the formal school system. You would have to be equipped mentally to deal with the community backlash. I believe overcame it all – the trials, tribulations, I was not a typical teenager. My aim was to be educated, stay focused and complete my studies. After a while it became easier as my peers started to respect me.

I conditioned my mind to push forward regardless of my circumstances. I could not have overcome my obstacles without the assistance from the Women’s Centre, the Child Development Agency as well as specific individuals. They all provided me with guidance, as well as financial assistance. That was a huge part of the reason why I was able to complete high school. All these ingredients led to me passing all eight CXC’s in ones, twos and threes and I also attained a high school diploma. The more awards I received, fuelled me with motivation. But whenever that didn’t work I looked at my son. I never want him to go through what I went through. My son gave me the strength to overcome all the obstacles that I was faced with.

I am currently employed at the Electoral Office of Jamaica as a Registration Clerk. I am also enrolled at the Caribbean Maritime Institute on a part time basis, where I am pursing a Bachelor of Science degree in the field of Logistics and Supply Chain Management. I am in the process of matriculating to year two in the degree program. I am the 2016 Gold ICON awardee, a scholarship which was presented to me by NCB Foundation. In addition, from time to time I represent the Women’s Centre as an ambassador at various functions.