I had the beautiful blessing of traveling South Africa, along with 10 other Temple University students. One of them in particular, Cambriae Bates, has been by my side, while I encouraged teen mothers to get back into school. Bates is the author of http://cambriaebates.wordpress.com/author/cambriaebates/ blog and she decided to publish a short article on witnessing the impact and connection that I made on young South African mothers.
Durrant & Bates exploring Melville Koppies
Our motto when traveling to Johannesburg, South Africa was to not only learn about South Africa, but to learn ‘from’ South Africa. After our departure, all of us students from Temple University felt that we had accomplished our goal. However Janice Durrant, a senior at Temple University’s School of Media and Communications, accomplished so much more. She discovered that she had a knack for motivational speaking and uplifting young people.
Janice became a teen mom at the age of 15 and her goal while in South Africa was to write a piece on teenage pregnancy. As she interviewed young mothers and researched information she discovered that the ethics of journalism were being pushed aside because she had a stronger calling. As she continued to talk to young girls she became an inspiration. I watched her as she spread her motto to “Stand-up, Be Confident and Move!”
JMD conversing with South African teen moms
One day while she was interviewing a set of twins, who both had children at the age of 14, I began to cry along with everyone else in the room. Janice reached out for the hands of the twin young mothers and told them that she understood their struggle. She emphasized the importance of them going back to school and that when their children started walking, the twins also had to get up and start walking. The twin sisters embedded her motto in their brains and when asked to repeat it they did so verbatim.
Not only did Janice inspire girls on a one-on-one level — like those twins in the Troyeville section of Johannesburg, she also was invited to speak to a group of teenagers in two different locations in Mabopane -a rural township over 80-miles north of Johannesburg. One of these locations was Mabopane High School. When asked how she felt about the experience she said, “It’s an indescribable feeling. I feel so honored to have had an affect on these girls that look like me, who are going through some of the same things I went through. I’m so grateful to be able to help them realize that this is not the end.”
Cambriae Winifred Bates
School of Media and Communication