Ntombesizwe’ Ntombi’ Basso established the Intyatyambo Yesizwe (meaning Flower of the Nation) Teen Mom’s Club in 2018 and currently supports 185 young moms. Ntombi, a mother of five, founded the project out of her passion for helping young girls.
“I saw the gap when it comes to young moms being taken care of. I would come across a crying young mom or pregnant teen in the corridors and decided to give my time to these youngsters,” she said.
Ntombi’s services include counselling, parenting classes, activities like gardening and assistance with basic needs like diapers, baby formula, and clothing. However, her primary focus is on the mental well-being of her clients, many of whom become suicidal upon discovering their pregnancy. If necessary, she refers them to social workers or psychiatrists. Basso also occasionally provides housing for young moms kicked out of their homes and secures space for them at the Sarah Baartman Centre.
“My main mission is to stop the cycle of child neglect and reduce the number of street kids. I’m playing my small part in combating poverty,” said Ntombi. She aims to ensure that young mothers receive an education so they can break free from the constraints of poverty. “I want to ensure that they go back to school as there’s no way they can be able to take care of their children without an education. The grant money is not enough to raise a child,” she explained.
Ntombi motivates teen moms to pursue a positive future. “I often ask them whether they want to be defeated moms or have a positive story to tell their children later. I will always be there for them so they can tell a better story,” she said. The project’s success has led to the emergence of professionals among teen moms. “We have teen moms who are trainee advocates and teachers, and some work in the IT sector. They always come to give back to other teen moms and preach the gospel of going back to school,” she said proudly.
The teen moms also visit schools to share their experiences and warn others about the challenges of teenage pregnancy. Ntombi hopes that the government will recognise her project and expand to other provinces, as the Department of Social Development does not currently fund them. However, some teen moms face challenges such as testing positive for HIV and receiving no support from their families. “Teen mom’s families can be a challenge at times, and some blame Ntombi for teenage pregnancy because of her support. When they chase away their daughters, they expect her to do the same,” Basso explained.
“If it were not for Ikamva Labantu, we wouldn’t have these beautiful stories to tell. Ikamva has been there from day one, helping us with transportation, backup nappies, and established a library for us,” said Ntombi.