Good evening. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Elmer, 22 year old Belizean youth that comes from a humble yet hard working family. Today it is important for me to share my story with you. I am speaking on the impact that my mother’s teenage pregnancy had on me, her son, the product of that pregnancy for a man ten years older than her. But I also want you to know that all four of my mother’s sisters found themselves being a mother in their teen years. I always said that if my mom could have only access sexual and reproductive health services in her adolescent years I would have escaped all the sexual abuses that have scarred my life forever. I know I have no right to judge my mother, but when I was born I knew not that I would never enjoy of my childhood years. Why you may ask? Well, mom was poor she had to work. That means she had to leave me in the care of someone who happened to be my grandmother who ironically should love me for the mere fact that I am her first grandchild. Nonetheless, it was not so. My grandmother hated me, the offspring of a teen pregnancy and the product of an outside marriage. She treated me badly. One day I clearly recall that grandma took me by my legs and slammed me against the wall; I burst my head. That mark still remains in the back of my head. This was the treatment I received for the first three years of my life. I was glad when mom enrolled me at preschool, it would mean I would be away from grandma almost all day. I hated my grandma and for many days questioned God why this had to be for me. Several times I wanted to take away my life. No one was there for me. No one! I often wondered why the poor people could not enjoy of utmost health services as the rich do; why the poor are often turned when asking or seeking professional help especially sexual and reproductive health services.
At age 7 I was sexually abused the first time. Since then it happened several times, however mom did not know. I was abused sexually by my neighbor’s wife, two uncles and a friend’s father. The worries and stress was just too much for me. I hated my uncles and the people who took away my childhood.
Today I stand in front of all of you and I say that these experiences molded me to be the Elmer that speaks to each one of you. I keep striving for a healthy future for my family and even the entire world. Today I serve as the Secretary of the Board of directors of GOJoven Belize alumni Association which has been in operation since 2011 serving the youth population of Belize in sexual and reproductive health and environmental consciousness programs. I also serve as the president of the National Aids Commission/ Country Coordinating Mechanism in my district. I love working for youth development and have shown it to this end and will continue to do so till my physical allows me to. My dream is to one day have all persons regardless of their age, ethnicity, color of skin, economic status, sexual orientation, to have free access to sexual and reproductive health and that their sexual rights, in fact all their rights are respected.
This testimony is published with the author’s permission. It was delivered at the CARICOM/UNFPA High Level Meeting on Adolescent Pregnancy which took place in Trinidad & Tobago on December 9, 2013. Elmer decided to grant permission for it to be published in the hope that “it would reach someone that would identify themselves with my experience.” The entire text and title are his own words.