Former wild child finds faith and purpose in life

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Jennifer Heng helps other women deal with unwanted pregnancies.

40-year-old Jennifer Heng admits to making some bad choices earlier in life, but believes that they should not define her for the rest of her life.

A former wild child, with a not-so-perfect family life and a rebellious youth, Jennifer finally found her calling through her faith.

Four years ago, when Jennifer became pregnant after nearly 10 years of marriage, friends asked her if she would opt for an epidural, as the pain was "unimaginable". She refused saying, she knows what the pain was like and she would rather "savour" that pain.

After all, it wasn't the first time that she was pregnant. She had a history of two pregnancies in her teenage years. One was aborted at 22 weeks, and since she was so far on, she had to undergo 8 hours of induced labour. She refused to see her baby, a boy, and the doctor just wrapped it up in newspaper.

Jennifer, the eldest of three sisters, comes from a well-to-do family and had what could be called a privileged childhood- living in condos and being driven around in fancy cars.

But all wasn't as rosy as it sounded. There were constant fights between her parents, which led to them being divorced. Her father's flourishing business also collapsed, he was declared bankrupt and he fled the country.

Her mother had to take over the responsibility of bringing up three girls. This was when Jennifer started pushing her boundaries and rebelled. She went through several unhealthy relationships and got pregnant twice, aborting both of them.

She then decided to get a hold on her life. She completed her diploma, worked as a radio deejay, freelanced as a copywriter and designer and went to Melbourne to pursue a degree in advertising with financial assistance from her godfather.

After being trapped in guilt and shame over her actions, finally, it was her faith that she rediscovered in Melbourne that helped her forgive herself. That was when she decided she would do something to help other girls avoid making the same mistakes she did. To that effect, she wrote her story and published it in a book, Walking Out Of Secret Shame, in 2012. It has sold more than 7000 copies.

Last year, she founded Dayspring New Life Centre, a shelter for young girls and women going through unplanned pregnancy. It is, she says, a secular outfit. The idea is to let women facing a pregnancy crisis know that there are options other than abortion.

Jennifer is now happily married and has a 4-year-old daughter.

Attractive, witty and well-spoken, Mrs Heng radiates confidence, strength of conviction and a soothing serenity, qualities often seen in many a reformed wild child.