Wed | Jun 3, 2020

Risking the future - Teenage fathers urge peers to wait

Published:Thursday | December 13, 2018 | 12:00 AMCarlene Davis

They were both teenagers and still in school when they found out that they were to become fathers.

But Omar Francis* and David Green* were determined to step up to their responsibilities despite the challenges. Now they are urging teenagers, male and female, to avoid the route of early pregnancy.

Omar, now 21 years old, found his life taking a turn he was not prepared for when he was just 17 and living with his parents in Portland.

He was preparing to sit six Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate exams (CSEC) when his 15-year-old girlfriend discovered she was pregnant.

"I was so shocked and didn't know what to do. My father was the closest one to me, so I told my father, and he said he would stand all the expense until I could work and support the baby, but her mother wasn't into it and wanted her to 'dash it weh'," said Omar.

He said he was using a condom which burst, putting them in the situation.

When the girl refused to have an abortion as her mother requested, she decided that she would live with Omar, but her mother objected and reported the matter to the authorities.

"She carry me go court saying underage pregnancy, because my girlfriend was 15 at the time. I went through CDA (Child Development Agency) first and dem lock me up, I got bail and go court for about three years. I finished with court and on three years probation right now," added Omar.

 

NOT AN EASY ROAD

 

His girlfriend delivered a son and they now live together, but it has not been an easy road.

"When she ready to have baby, I took her to the hospital and when she come home, I had to wash all the baby clothes, because me never have anybody else to do it. All the responsibility was on me. At the same time, me did a do CSEC and me couldn't even get fi do all a dem. A six me do, and me get one.

"I had no time to study because me did afi a work at the same time at a construction company, and then when I finished in the evening, I have to come home come cook because she couldn't do anything when she just have baby," said Omar.

His son turned three last month, and while he doesn't regret the child, he wishes the timing was different.

For Omar, his mistake is one he would not want other teenagers to make.

"I would advise them not to do it, if you can prevent it, prevent it, and use contraceptives, because it's not easy, worst when you have to do it on your own," said Omar.

At 16, David was a year younger than Francis when he found out that his girlfriend was pregnant

"At that point, we started worrying what my mother was going to say, and what her sister was going to say, we didn't know what to do.

"We were sitting and discussing the possibilities, like she would have to drop out of school and I would have to leave school and look a job," said David, who lived in a small community just outside of Spanish Town, St Catherine, with his mother.

 

NO ABORTION

 

According to David, he wanted her to keep the baby as he did not believe in abortion.

He said when his mother found out, she was upset at first, but later promised to help him take care of the child.

"Her sister did not want her to keep the baby, but they took her to do an ultrasound and they found out it was five months," said David.

He said the girl stopped talking to him for a while, because her sister, who she lived with, kept saying how disappointed she was in her.

Their son will be six months old next week, and David is taking care of the child while his girlfriend sits exams. He hopes to join the army soon, but for now, he is not working.

"It is hard. It is challenging base up off the fact that when it happened, I wanted to finish school and still work and provide so that they can be comfortable," said David.

"Ensure you practise safe sex and educate yourself about different birth control. Abstain if you can," added David in a message to other teenagers.

*Names changed to protect the identities of the two young men.

carlene.davis@gleanerjm.com