Mon | May 22, 2017

Decora Douglas proves all is not lost

Published:Thursday | May 28, 2015 | 5:00 AMShanique Samuels
Decora Douglas (centre), along with students of Effortville Primary School, Clarendon.
Decora Douglas with her sponsor, Keith Osbourne.
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MAY PEN, Clarendon:

Decora Douglas got pregnant at age 15 while still a student in high school.

"No matter how much my mother talked to me, I just wouldn't listen. She used to talk till she blue, but mi used to feel like mi a big woman because me turn teenager and instead of taking up my books, I followed company and took up boyfriend instead," Douglas told Rural Xpress.

A boyfriend, who, she said, was 11 years older than she was at the time. He offered her money if she would allow him to have his way with her. She said the first time she had sex, she got pregnant, and tried to hide it, but it didn't take long before her mother figured out that something was amiss. "I couldn't tell her, I knew I had let her down, I felt like a big disappointment. When she found out I was so ashamed, I felt like my life was over, mi lose hope and at that point mi drop out of school, and it was after I stopped going to school, that's when I really wanted to go," said Douglas.

She said the father stuck around during the pregnancy, but as soon as it was time to give birth, he was nowhere to be found. This she assumed was because the matter was reported to the police as she was still a minor.

"So at the end of the day it was just me and my daughter, no father, and certain things I wanted I couldn't get anymore." She said only her mother assisted with caring for the child financially as the rest of her relatives abandoned her. "Mi fada done wid mi, di rest a mi family dem turn dem back pan mi too so it was just mi and mi mother alone to look after di baby."

She attempted to restart school, but was faced with obstacles that she opted not to deal with. "It's like everything was happening to me all over again so I stayed at home for a year and did not go back to school. All this time, her mother cared for her child. She said older men started to show interest in her again and out of fear of making the same mistake and re-living the same experience twice, she didn't go back to the community let alone school.

Douglas soon moved out of her mother's house and took up residence with her elder sister. "I met this other guy and he started taking care of my daughter and we started having sex, and it wasn't long before I was pregnant again at the age of 17. This time this man didn't leave me, he stood up to his responsibility and is still taking care of my daughters."

Despite his willingness, he was unable to assist her in getting the education she wanted so badly. Caught between a rock and a hard place, Douglas grew depressed and frustrated because she really wanted to go back to school. "I know I had messed up, but I was determined to make something good of my life, if not for me, then for both my daughters because I want to be able to adequately provide for them and be able to guide them so they will not end up in the same situation as I did," she said.

Douglas tried several other schools and evening classes including HEART Trust NTA, but was unsuccessful in her quest to get the certification she needed. "Is like something come over me and mi just couldn't finish, no matter how I tried, mi just feel like mi life over, sometimes mi feel like give up, other times mi feel like run away. Then I heard about the James and Friends Education Programme. So I wrote them a letter and explained my situation and that I was interested in going to the La Marie Spa Institute.

Her letter was given some thought before it was approved and she was enrolled in the programme one month later. She was given a sponsor through the programme who paid all her tuition and other school related expenses for a six-months course in cosmetology, from which she will be graduating in June. "I'm looking forward to moving on to doing a City and Guilds course also in cosmetology to go along with the certificate I will be getting next month so that I may be employable," said Douglas. She has big dreams of opening up her own business.

Her sponsor Keith Osbourne of K.Q Construction Company in Clarendon said he is proud of her and happy that he could help her.

Douglas last week shared her story with grades five and six girls at the Effortville Primary School in Clarendon.

She encouraged them to be focused and not allow any man to force themselves upon them while they are still children.

rural@gleanerjm.com