In most African countries, if a school girl becomes pregnant she is harshly judged. The stigma that follows can lead to depression and feelings of failure. Thoughts on one’s future feel predetermined – chances of succeeding seem nil. Stella’s is a story of determination to overcome these stereotypes. Instead, she breathes life into her aspirations. Stella proves pregnancy isn’t a permanent condition, but that a girl in her position can excel – even become a role model for her community.
Stella used to begin her day at three o’clock in the morning. She woke up, nurtured her daughter and completed her expected chores; fetching water, tidying up and cleaning dishes. She then would set off for school on foot. Now that Stella has a Buffalo Bicycle, she starts her morning routine two hours later each day.
Stella’s mother is filled with gratitude for Stella’s bicycle as well, “My daughter can now confidently cycle past the sugar cane cutters who have always had the tendency of sexually harassing young girls and women who they come across.”
The bicycle has given Stella new status and positive energy. She rides past the motorbike sheds, seeing, “All eyes are on me,” though now in a different way. Boosted with confidence, transcending a dented self-esteem, the bicycle has brought life back to young Stella.
With enhanced efficiency in performing her chores, Stella’s bicycle is also sparking innovation. She plans to start transporting extra goods from her garden and fetching water for neighbors. The money she hopes to earn will help with her school fees. Stella reflects, “Distance never kept me from school, it was the lack of school fees. Going to school has become fun for me. I never want to miss one day,” says Stella.
Stella’s story embodies the struggles, sacrifices, and odds that teenage mothers in rural Africa overcome to continue their education. Every day when Stella bids her daughter goodbye, hops on her bike, and rides to school, she says it is the thought of her daughter that inspires her. She strengthens her resolve to study and work hard, to actualize her dreams for their future.