Wednesday May 7 2014

How Mary Tumwikirize coped with pregnancy while at university


By Esther Oluka

“I conceived in 2009 shortly after my first year at Uganda Christian University (UCU). During my second year, I started falling sick very often and missing out on many lecturers.

So, I decided to give studies a break until the time I gave birth. I went off for a year and went back to the same university in 2010.
While at school, I did not hide the fact that I had given birth to a boy. I would move with my baby wherever I went.

To support myself and my son, I rented two shops outside the university where I sold movies and managed a confectionary outlet. I have no parents, so it was an aunt, my guardian who gave me the capital for both businesses.

Life was very tough because the father of my son (Joshua) left most of the responsibility to me. He claimed to have lost his job.

Some of the lecturers who knew about my situation were very supportive and understanding. They took Joshua like their own son, for instance, they would buy foodstuffs like milk for him.
Meanwhile, some of the students at campus thought I had it all together because of the way I carried myself around. I loved smiling and laughing a lot. Little did they know that deep down in my heart I was hurting a lot.

I missed many lectures especially whenever Joshua fell ill. I often handed in course works late and at times missed tests.
From the two businesses, I used the profits to cater for both his and my personal needs. For instance I would buy for him pampers, formula milk, clothes as well as meet his medical bills. For myself, I would use the money mostly for buying handouts and paying for my hostel fees.

At times I was so overwhelmed with the responsibilities and would break down. I felt as if I had lost my humanity and did not care about anything else apart from my son. Despite all this, I was determined to finish university at whatever cost. I enrolled Joshua at a day care centre located within the university.

It was not easy because his lessons were between 8am to 5pm and yet I had lecturers up to 7pm. So, I used to take him for my evening lectures as well. He would sit silently as I took down the notes that the lecturer was giving at the time.

If I had any discussions in the night, I would take him along too. The other way I managed to balance motherhood and studies was by waking up very early every morning at about 5am. Then, go ahead to clean up my room, wash utensils and prepare breakfast. I would then get Joshua and myself ready.

Around that time, I would also make orders for movies and cakes for the businesses before taking Joshua to the day care centre as I went for lecturers.

If I was free, I would go and open up the businesses.
I struggled on until the time I finally graduated in 2013.
Because of the nightmare I went through, I would not advise any girl to get pregnant while at university. Being a mother and student at the same time is very difficult. Redeem your parents and guardians from the shame. Get your degree first and conceive later.”