23 October 2018   |  Last Updated 28-11-2014 02:41

      Friday 28, November 2014

      BLOG: Education through a girls eye

      Malala Yousafzai will be presented as the youngest ever Nobel peace prize on December 10th. She, alongside Kailash Satyarthi of India have been awarded the prestigious award ‘for their struggle against the suppression on children and young people and for the right of all children to education.’

      Since being shot by the Taliban in 2010 Malala has become much more than a Nobel peace prize winner, she has become a symbol of hope for so many girls growing up in the developing world.

      The white dress, big church and Prince Charming. That is what many girls wish for on the most important day of their life.

      Their wedding day. We all do it, dream of the one day where we become a princess and promise to share our lives with someone. As a child we plan our big day and then quietly without you realising that one day has turned into today and then that becomes your life.

      But for many girls, this day comes a lot sooner than they could have ever imagined. Marriage is something so many of us dream for, but unfortunately for too many girls their wedding day is something to fear.

      Theresia was 16 when she became a wife.

      She should have been in school gaining her education. An education that would give her the stepping stones to a better life.

      Her wedding day was not filled with love and laughter instead she faced a new life of uncertainty with a man over three times her age.  1 in 4 young girls in Tanzania will get married before they turn 18. Theresia is sponsored through her education by the Meserani Project, a UK based charity that helps to provide education to children in Tanzania. This connection proved to be her saviour, many other girls aren’t this lucky.

      In 2012 Theresia disappeared from school. Her sponsors were informed that she was pregnant. The truth of her sudden disappearance wasn’t revealed for another 10 months.

      Girls too often are forced to abandon the innocence of childhood to marry and have children. A vicious circle is born, families marry off their daughters because the responsibility is passed to someone else but premature pregnancy bares another child born into poverty. Child marriages occur regularly in Tanzania as a way of securing financial stability for a family. 90% of the world’s youths grow up in poverty , leaving many children uneducated and unable to make money. Families are often left struggling and unable to make ends meet, many decide to marry off their daughters due to the practice of dowry payments.

      Theresia was taken away from her home, her school and her family. Eventually escaping and making the 150km walk back to her mother, she thought she was safe. Due to a dowry payment being made in exchange for her marriage, Theresia’s mother told her daughter there was nothing she could do. She was expected to return back to a 55 year-old man she now had to call her husband.

      All Theresia really wanted was to be free from this nightmare and return to school. But it wasn’t until Theresia managed to secretly contact a Meserani Project trustee that she was protected and placed back in school.

      Education proved to save Theresia from an unwanted life and marriage. She was cleared of HIV, malaria and pregnancy. Theresia is one of the lucky few that managed to escape, many other girls do not have that privilege.

      Imagine a world where you don’t know where your next meal is coming from. A place where your biggest fears aren’t about having a bad hair day or embarrassing yourself in front of your crush, but instead whether you will face FGM, domestic violence and your wedding day.

      Malala has become a symbol of hope for so many because she stood up to fight for what she believed in. She is making the right for girls to be educated a global issue. Girls around the world know her name and they know her story. They no longer have to live in fear of their wedding day, instead they are starting to live in hope of their graduation.

      By Laliesha Ali