I was only 10 months old when my mother abandoned me. She left me at my father’s home, claiming that she was very sick and could not take care of me. She was still in her teenage years, doing Grade 11. I guess I was a distraction to her plans of finishing school and living life to the fullest.

Growing up, living with my grandmother, was nice and at the same time painful. She gave me motherly love, which I needed. My father, however, was an irresponsible man who was on drugs. He never cared if I ate or went to bed on an empty stomach. The only thing he did for me was to buy a school skirt and a shirt when I started high school. From then on, I had to hustle for myself. The only source of income was my grandmother’s pension.

I was forced to find a job at a young age. At 13, I got a job cleaning toilets at a taxi rank in town. It was not easy working there, but for my grandmother’s sake, I had to be strong and persevere. At that time my father had gotten married to some business woman. She could not have children but again, she was not really fond of me. They decided to adopt a baby girl. When my grandmother passed on, my father had no choice but to take me to live with them. I was treated as an outsider there.

Lacking fatherly love, I found myself entering into a relationship with an older guy. I thought he would close the gap left by my father. I fell pregnant at the young age of 15. I believed a baby would make our relationship stronger. I was so wrong!

He broke up with me when I told him I was pregnant. When my stepmother found out that I was pregnant she started ill-treating me. She started calling me names and told my father negative things about me.

Working while pregnant was even harder. My boss was hard on me. There were times when I would knock off at eleven at night and struggled to get transport to go back home. Those times I was forced to sleep in the bushes. I just accepted this was my fate. It was my stepmother’s words that turned my life around. She usually said that I would be nothing in life; I was my mother’s daughter.

After giving birth, I decided to focus more on my schoolwork. Her negative words pushed me to try harder to prove her wrong. I studied hard and got good grades. I took a decision to be the best mother to my child. To do so, I would have to finish school and get a good education. I had to do it for my daughter and for my grandmother.

Today I am a proud, independent, young woman. I thank my grandmother for the woman I am today. Today, whatever I do, I do with dedication. I learned from my mistakes and I live my life to be an inspiration to my beautiful daughter and for the next generation. I write my story, a beautiful story, each and every day I live.