“Despite all those challenges, I thought it was necessary to stay in school"

Gifty with her son, Ghana

When Gifty Anning Agyei was pregnant, her classmates teased her, telling her she should drop out of school. She thought of having an abortion, and at times she says she considered suicide.

When her father, Ebenezer Anning Agyei found out about the pregnancy, he was furious and wanted to kick her out of the house and stop supporting her education.

Getting the support she needed

But with support from Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG) and advice from Ebenezer’s church pastor, Gifty is still in school, and she has a happy baby boy, named after Gifty’s father. Gifty and the baby are living at home, with Gifty’s parents and three of her siblings in Mim, a small town about eight hours drive northwest of Ghana’s capital Accra.

“Despite all those challenges, I thought it was necessary to stay in school. I didn’t want any pregnancy to truncate my future,” Gifty says, while her parents nod in proud support.

In this area of Ghana, research conducted in 2018 found young people like Gifty had high sexual and reproduce health and rights (SRHR) challenges, with low comprehensive knowledge of SHRH and concerns about high levels of teenage pregnancy. PPAG, along with the Danish Family Planning Association (DFPA), launched a four-year project in Mim in 2018 aimed to address these issues.

Gifty Anning Agyei, teenage mother, 17 with her son Ebenezer Mimako, 1
Gifty fell pregnant at 16 but thanks to the support of Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana and her parents, she managed to return to her studies

For Gifty, now 17, and her family, this meant support from PPAG, especially from the coordinator of the project in Mim, Abdul- Mumin Abukari.

“I met Abdul when I was pregnant. He was very supportive and encouraged me so much even during antenatals he was with me. Through Abdul, PPAG encouraged me so much.”

Her mother, Alice, says with support from PPAG her daughter did not have what might have been an unsafe abortion. The parents are also happy that the PPAG project is educating other young people on SRHR and ensuring they have access to services in Mim.

Gifty says teenage pregnancy is common in Mim and is glad PPAG is trying to curb the high rates or support those who do give birth to continue their schooling.

	Gifty Anning Agyei, 17 with her son Ebenezer Mimako, 1 and her parents Alice Anning Agyei, 40 and father Ebenezer Anning Agyei, 45
Gifty Anning Agyei, 17 with her son, 1 and her parents, who have been fully supporting of her return to school

“It’s not the end of the road”

“PPAG’s assistance is critical. There are so many ladies who when they get into the situation of early pregnancy that is the end of the road, but PPAG has made us know it is only a challenge but not the end of the road.”

Gifty’s mum Alice says they see baby Ebenezer as one of their children, who they are raising, for now, so GIfty can continue with her schooling.

“In the future, she will take on the responsibly more. Now the work is heavy, that is why we have taken it upon ourselves. In the future, when Gifty is well-employed that responsibility is going to be handed over to her, we will be only playing a supporting role.”

Alice also says people in the community have commented on their dedication.

“When we are out, people praise us for encouraging our daughter and drawing her closer to us and putting her back to school.”

Dad Ebenezer smiles as he looks over at his grandson. “We are very happy now.”

When she’s not at school or home with the baby, Gifty is doing an apprenticeship, learning to sew to follow her dream of becoming a fashion designer. For her, despite giving birth so young, she has her sights set on finishing her high school education in 2021 and then heading to higher education.