END CHILD MARRIAGE -- KILIFI COUNTY

ELIZABETH ZIRO
Posted July 29, 2019 from Kenya

An inspiring true story of one of our beneficiaries:

At the age of 14, Kadzo got married to her husband Kazungu, a 25-year-old herdsman. The couple had a daughter and lived in a small hut in Adu, Magarini sub-county, Kilifi county. 

“When I got married, I thought I was running away from the poverty in our family. Life was so difficult, such that we could only afford one meal a day,” narrates  Kadzo, who had to drop out of school as a result of her early marriage.

“I regret getting married young. I have since learned to endure tough situations such as going for a whole night on an empty stomach, especially with my baby, whom I am still breast feeding since I cannot afford to give her food with the required nutrients,” she lamented, before admitting that she had no faith in the future.

Kadzo's mother , who gave consent to her daughter’s marriage, says that she had struggled to take care of a family of eight together with her husband. 

Kadzo's story is a clear testimony to the fact that poverty is the leading cause of child marriages in Kilifi County.

 Many young girls are often married off to older men for reasons that include restoring or maintaining family honour or to settle a father’s debts and to obtain some other financial gain.

To stay with a girl as a wife, you have to pay dowry and since Kazungu had not fulfilled this obligation, Kadzo was again married off by her family to a 65 year old man. She was devastated and finally ran away.

The good news is that we managed to rescue the young Kadzo and enrolled her to the Single Mothers Association of Kenya in Nairobi where she joined other young mothers on vocational training.

Please feel free to share this post or  your thoughts on how together we can work against child marriage and pregnancy in the comments section.

To learn more about our programs

www.smilesofhopekenya.org

This story was submitted in response to Share On Any Topic.

Comments 23

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Bettina Amendi
Jul 29
Jul 29

Wow,You are doing an awesome job.I am happy for you.

ELIZABETH ZIRO
Jul 29
Jul 29

Thank you so much dear

Jill Langhus
Jul 29
Jul 29

Hello Elizabeth,

Thanks for sharing your sad but also inspiring story for poor Kadzo. I think I would run away, too, if I was supposed to marry a 65 year old man:-( It's awesome that you're providing vocational training to these women. Where is she getting food and shelter now? Is she back with her original husband?

The only suggestion that I would have would be using contraception or at least education on when women/girls shouldn't be engaging in sex during their cycle because some times are more peak/prime for resulting in pregnancies. I have read stories of this working but of course you have to be really in tune with your body. And, I will assume that contraception very well me be considered taboo there? I think people need to think more realistically about what they can afford and what they can't. That may sound unrealistic or tough love because I'm sure the situation is much more complex than that, but from my objective standpoint this is what I see.

I'm interested to know what your thoughts are and what solutions you have come up with, dear.

Hope you're having a great day and week! Sending you, Kadzo and her daughter love and hugs. XX

ELIZABETH ZIRO
Jul 29
Jul 29

After the rescue in Kilifi, i sent her with others from KIlifi around six of them to Nairobi, they joined Single Mothers Association of Kenya (SMAK) - a center that takes care of teenage mothers. They stay at the center with their young ones. When they go to class the children are taken care at a baby center, they are allowed to breastfeed between classes. Initially it was a one year program but for sustainability, the donor added one more year. We have a donor from Helping hand international who offers the education support and SMAK takes care of shelter and feeding. it is end of this year that they will graduate and go home in the village. They are registered and sit for a government exam which motivates them. At the center they do a lot, they are do dressmaking course, computer, hairdressing, bead work, HIV and AIDS guiding and counseling, reproductive health and civic education. This is true, contraceptive is seen as a taboo and many are scared of using family planning due to also many other reasons ie it causes cancer etc It is not easy neither to let a small girl go for abstinence or safe days, thats a lie hahah
We are making arrangements in a way that when they are done with the training and graduate, they do not go back to their husbands. We are going to open for them workshops where they are going to provided services depending on what one has trained. For instance ,if its dressmaking, we are going to get them a room with several machines, we are going to ask parents from around and all the neighboring schools to take their request for uniforms there to promote and let our girls earn a living. We are going to let them train other girls in the village who dropped out from school as a result of child marriage, teen pregnancy and due to lack of school fees. It is going to be one of its kind.
I visit them once in a while. They are in Nairobi and I am in Kilifi. Will pass on you love Jill. Thank so much

Jill Langhus
Jul 30
Jul 30

Very good:-) I'm glad to hear about the training they're receiving and about the funding extension. Excellent news!

But is their a way to educate and empower girls and women so contraceptives are no longer taboo. That's really what needs to happen so they can make educated decisions about their body and plan for the future accordingly. Yeah, I don't think abstinence is a good idea or plan.

That's excellent about the arrangements that you're planning to do for each one. They must be very excited about their future now?!

Thanks, dear. You're welcome!

XX

ELIZABETH ZIRO
Jul 31
Jul 31

Hello Mum, empowering them on contraceptives is not an issue, we have this deadly disease cancer, many are associating it with the different methods of family planning making it even harder letting the girls and women use. Nevertheless, we do not tire. We try our best and we are great a number of them take hid, use contraceptives and delay child birth.

Indeed, they are all excited and looking forward to go back in the village and empower fellow girls on how to delay child birth and child marriage and continue with their studies which is the key to life. They will act as our ambassadors and role models that, giving birth at a tender age is not the end of life. They will be in a position to advocate against child marriage etc

Wishing you a good day

Jill Langhus
Jul 31
Jul 31

Hello dear,

Oh, good:-) Oh, I see. What is the cancer? Is it preventable? Good for you to keep on!

Yay! Good job! I hope they join WP so we can see their personal stories:-)

ELIZABETH ZIRO
Jul 31
Jul 31

Hello Mum, Cancer is a disease and it has been recently declared a national disaster in Kenya. Be kind enough to google dear. I will. With you encouragement and support it keeps me going. Hopefully, in the near future i should be able to bring them on board.
Have a good time

Jill Langhus
Aug 01
Aug 01

Hello dear,

What I meant is what type of cancer is it that is most prevalent and are they preventable, i.e., through condoms, better nutrition, etc?

Great to hear! Looking forward to it!

XX

Hello, Elizabeth,

Wow. Being married at 14 is quite young. It’s not even medically advisable to bear children beloe 18 years old. You should hear me gasped so loud when Kadzo was married to a 65 years old. So sad to “sell” young girls for the sake of dowry.

I’m relieved that you rescued her. May you continue to help more women with stories like Kadzo. Thank you for sharing!

ELIZABETH ZIRO
Jul 29
Jul 29

Thank you Karen, by the time i rescued her she was only 17 years with 3 children already. That's crazy, right? It is indeed so sad. One girl at a time.

Rahmana Karuna
Jul 30
Jul 30

dearest Elizabeth, that sounds like the stories from when i practiced as a nurse midwife in appalachia region of Hyden, Kentucky USA. In the early 1920s Mary Breckenridge learned about Nurse Midwives, unfortunately through the loss her 4yo daughter while in Europe. Being the daughter of a diplomat, from Kentucky, she learned the highest maternal newborn morbidity/mortality were around Hyden. She wrote the book "Babies in Her Saddlebags". I cared for 80 yo women who remembered those days. I was there in the mid 1990s, still extreme poverty. One midwife told me of a young girl who came in with her all bloated up baby at 6 mo check. All the baby was getting was coca cola in a bottle. So, i was really relieved to read Kadzo was nursing her baby. breast is best. Being a nurse midwife run hospital, when young mother's under 21yo and with several children, wanted their "tubes tied" / sterilized, medicaid would not pay d/t under 21. the hospital absorbed the bill.

ELIZABETH ZIRO
Jul 31
Jul 31

Thank you for the encouragement in comparison to what you do in USA. Keep up the good work!

Oh wow. Three children before 18 years old. I’m glad you did your part.

I agree with Rahmana on birth control. I stopped at two. It’s not easy to raise children with quality upbringing.

ELIZABETH ZIRO
Jul 31
Jul 31

The only way to bring up a healthy family i must say. Personally, i do not use contraceptives as they have side effects but i have adopted safe days which work best for me.

I am humbled.

Hope you have a fab day.

We don’t also. We used the natural calendar method. But eventaly, my OBGYN advised to have myself ligated because of health reasons. Whatever works for the best of us, right? Have a great day, too!

ELIZABETH ZIRO
Jul 31
Jul 31

I understand. We should go for what suits us best. Have a productive day dear

Rahmana Karuna
Jul 31
Jul 31

yes, unfortunately many of the birth control options have side effects and dangers,as does pregnancy. There was a poster on the wall of a clinic room in a federally funded rural health clinic (only 10 awarded nation wide) started and run by hippies, part of the diaspora out of berkley in the 60s. The poster listed the risk of birth control, which was about 10th on the list, after things such as canoeing, skiing Mt Shasta or driving over the interstate pass on the border of oregon and california in an icy winter blizzard. it was funny and true.
anyways, i wonder if you know about the FemCap (cross between a diaphragm and cervical cap-inserted prior to intercourse, more effective with spermicide and created by an MD in Los Angeles, Ca) and quality Fertility awareness with the fertility mini microscope, and of course there is the condom. The Fertility Lens was first introduced from India i believe, a few decades ago, i bought one from a local lay midwife in oregon who was importing them at the time, and since then it has been significantly improved, along with charting fertility and its effectiveness. and haha, sometimes we ovulate twice a month, lust hormones trick us like that.
https://femcap.com/
http://www.sisterzeus.com/FerLens.htm

ELIZABETH ZIRO
Jul 31
Jul 31

Interesting. Hahaha one has to look for many options before she can get the best. Thanks for sharing.

Rahmana Karuna
Jul 30
Jul 30

"Please feel free to share this post or your thoughts on how together we can work against child marriage and pregnancy in the comments section."

oh my goodness, you are doing such amazing rescuing and assisting girls to move on up! The real solver is prevention. educate girls. provide sanitary supplies for menstruation. BIRTH CONTROL. without birth control it is a very vicious cycle of generations of poverty. Margaret Sanger brought legalization of birth control to the USA, after getting arrested many times for it by creating education flyers and opening a birth control clinic, she illegally imported a train car load of diaphragms from europe, thru canada, and it was busted at the border d/t weight discrepancies in a 3:1 oil train car-too light a load!! The innovator of 3:1 oil was smitten with her, so he helped her. 1965 The Supreme Court (in Griswold v. Connecticut) gave married couples the right to use birth control, ruling that it was protected in the Constitution as a right to privacy. prior to that it was illegal in many places.
so happy Kadzo ran away, and so impressed she took her children. I am surprized the husband cannot demand her back? if he paid the dowry, does she or the family have to pay it back. so unjust.
I remember one woman with 12 children, in her 40s, husband refused any form of birth control d/t religion. She snuck using a diaphragm for a long time, but got pregnant because after some holiday dance she was so caught up in loving emotions she forgot her diaphragm. She really wanted to be sterilized after this birth. our office couldn't bill nor the hospital or the husband would find out, our lesbian doctor took care of it all and she got her tubes tied!!!
i worked in the local county health department birth control clinic. poor rural county. i was THE clinician who handled problems the others couldn't. I also honed my education/counseling techniques, starting with the question
"Do you want to get pregnant?"
"How important is it for you not to get pregnant?"
"How effective birth control do you want?"
this is a wonderful website for birth control and this page is a long list of resources, and what do you know, they have listed my next resource for you!!
http://www.contraceptivetechnology.org/reproductive-health-resources/
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When birth control fails, or when there is an unwanted pregnancy (50% of pregnancies are unplanned and 50 % of those pregnancies are terminated in the usa)
Across the globe in every country women abort unwanted pregnancies, legal or not. in much of the world, abortions are legal.
for those using religion as an excuse against abortion:
http://rcrc.org/
Pro Faith. Pro Family. Pro Choice.
The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) is a broad-based, national, interfaith movement that brings the moral force of religion to protect and advance reproductive health, choice, rights and justice through education, prophetic witness, pastoral presence and advocacy.

RCRC values and promotes religious liberty which upholds the human and constitutional rights of all people to exercise their conscience to make their own reproductive health decisions without shame and stigma. RCRC challenges systems of oppression and seeks to remove the multiple barriers that impede individuals, especially those in marginalized communities, in accessing comprehensive reproductive health care with respect and dignity.
---------------------------------------------------------------------
https://www.ipas.org/
We believe in a world where every woman and girl can determine her own future.
Each year, 25 million women and girls around the world have unsafe abortions. We’re working to bring that number to zero.
Ipas is the only international organization solely focused on expanding access to safe abortion and contraceptive care. Across Africa, Asia and Latin America, we work with partners to train abortion providers, connect women with vital information so they can access services, and to advocate for safe, legal abortion.
44,000 women and girls die each year from unsafe abortions, and millions more suffer serious, often permanent injuries. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Around the world, our programs strive to improve reproductive health services for women and girls, increase their access to these services, and expand their sexual and reproductive rights.
_______________________________
wow, just looked up abortion laws in Kenya and you all took action fast!!!
The Kenyan government has lifted a ban preventing the international charity Marie Stopes from providing any abortion services, following warnings the ruling endangered the lives of thousands of women.

The Kenyan ministry of health said on Thursday that an audit of Marie Stopes’ clinics had been completed and that the charity could resume post-abortion care services under “regular supervision”.
https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/dec/21/kenya-lifts-b...
so, i hope this helps. let me know if you want any help with this project.

ELIZABETH ZIRO
Jul 31
Jul 31

Much gratitude dear, well put. We have our campaign #keepgirlsinschool which advocates for girl child education. We send girls who dropped out from school due to teenage pregnancy, we rescue child marriages, we provide sanitary pads and we have literacy programs which keep them intact over the holidays where we take them through reproductive health to control child birth and STIs. Through this we believe we will break the poverty cycle. Kudos to Margaret Sanger, she is a gem!
After running away from the old man 65yrs, her father was very mad harassing the mother for letting their girl run, We had to report the matter to the Area administration and the father was asked to look for money and refund dowry, haha it was not that easy. Yes, we have such in our community too, claiming that the bible/religion condemns child birth control/family planning. We still preach the importance of a family that one can manage to alleviate poverty. Thank you for all the information and the links shared, I promise to check them out.

Do have a good day dear one!

Lisbeth
Jul 31
Jul 31

Oh my gosh. Half the age Gap. This is way to young. Puha! But hey they exist, we must all fight this menace. Keep up the good fight and we shall over one day. Thanks for sharing.

ELIZABETH ZIRO
Jul 31
Jul 31

Thank you. Still pressing on