There I was 16 and pregnant. I was a teenager in a generation and time of life where the teenage pregnancy rate was at a high, when I aspired to never experience something like this. I thought my parents would kill me, yet my thoughts only turned out for the worst.

My boyfriend and I broke up before I knew about the pregnancy. We decided to break all contact with one another. Late in December he moved to Johannesburg, permanently. Eight months into the pregnancy it was the best and hottest season of the year. Mom, Dad and myself decided to go on vacation to Port Elizabeth for about five weeks. The sun was hot and every moment spent was enjoyed to the fullest.

We left Port Elizabeth and on our journey back home the most tragic accident occurred. We collided with a truck. Our vehicle was crumpled in the accident. Paramedics, blood, sirens, lights, vehicles, and people everywhere. Mom and Dad didn’t make it, but my unborn baby and I did. We were totally unharmed. I nearly went insane the second I received the news. There I was, half way through recovery yet I was homeless and without a family. I’d lost my parents and had nothing.

Afterwards I lived as a beggar, on the streets roaming around like a dog scavenging for its next meal. I had no contact with any extended family. When it was time for the baby to arrive I decided to give her up for adoption. I constantly had contact with the family who took my daughter as their own.

It has been 20 years. She is a young ambitious adult, always neatly attired. As I sat on the street watching her she would walk past and greet me. One day she passed and asked, “Lady why are you always so nice to me? One doesn’t often find people who greet one another and are friendly to random strangers. Are you trying to abduct or kidnap me? I heard that human-trafficking is getting serious in the country.”

I said, “No honey, definitely not. It’s in my nature to always be this friendly.” She then mentioned, “That’s good. It reminds me of myself.”

I then said to her, “It’s because you’re my only child. I’m your mother.”

There was utter silence, after a long pause I said, “You look healthy, successful and so grown-up. Time seriously flew by. What are you currently doing with your life?”

She said, “Wait… What? Mother? Like what… How? But why? No! But how can you be my mother? My parents are at home. The home that I have been living in all my life. Besides, you live on the streets. You’re dirty, you don’t wear proper clothes and your hair needs to be washed. You’re homeless and my parents are successful, rich people, not beggars.” And off she went in a hurry.

Days, weeks, even months passed where she did not come and give her daily greetings. One day she appeared unexpectedly and came up to me. She handed me a present and card that said, “I’m sorry, mom.”

My heart was beating fast and I burst into tears. I explained to her what happened and why I had to let her go. I said, “I lost everything – my parents, their remaining things. I had nothing left. I couldn’t give you the life you deserved. But they could. Yes, I’m a beggar today. I don’t run away from my situation. But I’m glad that you live the same kind of life that I lived when I was young.”

She fell to her knees. Crying like a little girl, saying, “I’m so sorry. I don’t usually act this way. Me and my superciliousness. Today is the last time I will ever pre-judge someone. There are many people that walk around with a smile on their face, like you who are always happy and friendly. But yet they’re going through hell. I’m really sorry Mom.”

Like any other child would she gave thanks to the people who raised her and then moved in with her mom, but still visited them on a regular basis.

She says, “Don’t make the same mistake that I made. Going around, thinking that I’m all perfect without any problems in life. There are people who have nothing yet they make the best of every situation they’re in. Parents are truly a gift from God. Even though she wasn’t present during my up-bringing I was always on her mind.”