Margaret – Tarime, Tanzania
People who see me now as a smiling, confident young lady might be surprised to learn of my journey. My parents arranged for me to be wed when I was just 12-years-old. While I was blessed with two sons, I couldn’t endure the hardship of my marriage, and I felt a lot of bitterness. I lost all of my hopes and dreams, and I had very low esteem.
I wish more people could understand how much young girls like me suffer during pregnancy and giving birth, and what it means to be a child responsible for raising your own child. Being a child mother hit me hard. I was so depressed, and my life seemed hopeless. I dropped out of school, and my pregnancies took a toll on my health.
My life would have been so different if I hadn’t been involved with the project run by Children’s Dignity Forum (CDF) and FORWARD. It played a key and unforgettable role in my life. I now feel so much better about myself. I’m aware of my rights as a young woman, I know how to access health and support services and I’m more aware how I can support my children.
The project enabled me to go back to school, and I graduated in October 2012. CDF gave me a laptop as a reward for doing so well. It really meant a lot to me that there was an organisation out there that was so supportive.
The Tarime project has revived my dreams, but I’m not taking my position for granted. I’m using the knowledge and skills I’ve gained to let others in my community know about the harmful practices of child pregnancy and child marriage.
There’s a lot of work that still needs to be done educating parents like mine about the damaging effects of sending young girls off to be married. Parents need to know that a ‘bride price’ is not worth the cost to life that so many young girls like me are forced to suffer.