A teacher calls out Imelda and tells her she has visitors. She walks out of class and when her eyes meet ours, the joy on her face is a sight to behold. Now in Senior 2, Imelda Nassanga looks forward to changing the world. She dreams of becoming a nurse or midwife. Would that have been possible two years back? No!
We met Imelda two years ago during one of our community out reaches, just a few days before getting married off to an old “rich” man. Marriage in itself is not bad but for a 13 year old with a very bright future it is not a gift either. Every year 15 million girls are married as children. Every girl has her own story to tell. In reality, child marriage almost always means an end to a girl’s education and a life of repeated pregnancies, domestic chores, and exposure to domestic violence.
“Back then our focus was mainly on the infants at the orphanage, we did not have any extra funds to help Imelda continue her education at the time, but there was no way I was going to watch a girl of her age get married off. Deep inside I knew that God had brought her to us for a reason so we took her in and somehow we have always managed to pay for her education as well as empower her mother with entrepreneurial skills” says Joseph, the team leader at BaNgaAfayo.
Imelda’s mother did not want to give her away, and someone can call her anything, from evil to heartless but it is until you step in her shoes that you can comprehend why she decided to do that. For a mother to look at her child sleep hungry and fail to go to school is tormenting. Every parent has a future they have shaped out for their child! It is because of different circumstances like those (hunger, poverty, illiteracy, unemployment etc.) we are fighting at BaNgaAfayo that many parents are marring off their children at an early age.
Because of the ills that befell this young girl’s home, marriage to a “rich” man was the only solution present. Imelda is a very beautiful and intelligent girl. To think that her life would have been destroyed is sad. Now, the glow returned to her face, she wears her school uniform with pride, her yellow skirt a sign that the sun came out for her. Her teachers speak adorably of her, her class performance reflects gratitude and her smile is her thank you to everyone at BaNgaAfayo Initiative Uganda who contributed to her happiness.
The sad thing is that she is just one among the many, there are girls who no one could save and there are those who can still be saved. Imelda’s story can now instill hope in the girls who thought it was the end for them. With your help we hope to do more for children like Imelda from poverty stricken families.
We can do more together…