A high school student, who has two children and 14 subjects so far, is encouraging teenagers to delay pregnancy, adding that those who already ended up being pregnant should not lose hope.
Sadiqa Innerarity told The Beacon that she found courage and hope after contemplating suicide when she first became pregnant. At that time, she was in Grade Eight at Jonathan Grant High School in Spanish Town, St. Catherine.
“I would definitely not encourage girls to get pregnant in their teens and while they are going to school. It’s not easy. I heard that a lot, but somehow it just happened to me. It is really not easy,” she said, noting that she learnt the hard way.
She added: “Girls out there, please be wise. Go to school, listen to what your mom says, get your education, and stay focused. Get your dreams before kids. Abstain from sex.”
Sadiqa’s main sources of motivation and financial support are now her mother Nadine Golding and her elder sister Tiona Braham, who is a nurse.
She is also grateful for her other well-wishers, including the principal at Jonathan Grant High School, Dr. O’Neil Ankle, whom she dubs her second father.
He actually encouraged her to return to school at the end of her pregnancies.
She stopped attending the institution in Grade Eight when she first became pregnant, and again when she got pregnant in Grade 11. In fact, Sadiqa enrolled in the school’s sixth form programme a year late.
She stated that, although a few students try to degrade her because she is a student mother, she has developed a winning strategy – ignoring the naysayers and remaining laser-focused on her academics.
“I try not to let what I hear get me down,” Sadiqa declared. “Some persons are talking about me, but they won’t put in the work I do to get things done.”
Sadiqa, who cares daily for her children, has excelled academically.
She does it because she is mindful of her children’s future, and because she wants to elevate her mother who dropped out of school due to poverty.
Sadiqa is now the proud holder of a whopping 10 CSEC subjects, administered by the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC). The subjects (all General Proficiency) include Mathematics, English A, French, Biology, Chemistry and Physics.
The young scholar, who is now in upper sixth form, this year sat four CAPE subjects – also administered by CXC. She was successful in all of them. In fact, she attained the highest grade possible (Grade One) in two of those subjects – Environmental Science (Unit One) and Chemistry (Unit One).
Sadiqa also sat Mathematics and English Language in City and Guilds exams, but is still awaiting the results.
She is described as the go-to person in the family for help with school work.
Sadiqa recalled that, in Grade 11 when she was preparing for CSEC exams, she was not only pregnant with her second child. She was also living in the Oliver Road area of Kingston, where there were frequent clashes between gunmen.
“I had to study under the bed with flashlight because of the gunshots,” she told The Beacon.
She added that, on one occasion, a gunshot ended up in the house occupied by her family. That incident prompted the family to relocate to Portmore, St. Catherine.
Sadiqa is also from a community in St. Catherine called Pedro – not far from Point Hill district.
She is a past student of Mineral Heights Primary School in Clarendon and Brown’s Hall Primary in St. Catherine.
She is bent on becoming a pharmacist and eventually the owner of a pharmacy.
Her son, Ishmar Burrell, is five years old. Her daughter, Rodricka Burrell, is almost two.
Sadiqa is 20 and her children’s father is on the verge of becoming 23.
She said the children’s father was not working and so had a difficulty living up fully to his responsibilities.
But things are starting to change.
The father recently was recruited by the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF).
“Both of us grew up in very poor homes and we have been through a lot,” said Sadiqa, who is also a beneficiary of the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation. She noted that her father, Cecil Innerarity, is also usually supportive of her, but he has not been employed since 2018.
Her mother, Nadine, said she was shocked when Sadiqa first became pregnant, adding that the child at the time ‘had everything to her comfort’ and was very quiet. “She follow friend,” Nadine insisted.
She said people encouraged her to let Sadiqa commit an abortion, but she (Nadine) strongly objected, considering her Christian leanings.
She further told The Beacon that she has been going the extra mile for Sadiqa and her other daughter, because she does not want them to end up in the same predicament that she experienced.
Nadine explained that she was forced to abort her schooling due to the lack of financial support. “We used to have to sell goods to send ourselves to school,” she disclosed.
Nadine wanted to pick up the pieces and resume her studies, but she is yet to do so because she became pregnant twice, and was working to ensure that her two children – both daughters – have a better life.
“My first daughter is 27 years old now and she is a nurse,” Nadine said. “I told them it is just the three of us as a family, and we have to work with each other.”
The elder daughter – the nurse, substantially assists the younger one, Sadiqa.
In the meantime, the principal at Jonathan Grant High School, Dr. Ankle, speaks highly of the student mother, Sadiqa.
“She is one of those girls who is tenacious and she is a fighter in my estimation…” he told The Beacon.
The principal further said: “Sadiqa has shown many young people out there – girls and boys alike, that ‘Listen to me; I have had it rough, but I am fighting’. She is fighting because she is ambitious… She has a tenacity that will take her places, and I really believe in her. As a result of that, I gave her the opportunity to come back to school, having gotten pregnant in Grade Eight. I saw the brilliance in her since she came to the school in Grade Seven.”
By Horace Mills, Journalist
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