Giving girls an opportunity to make their own informed choices about their lives

Elizabeth Ziro
Posted October 9, 2019 from Kenya
A visit to one of the local Radio station. This platform gave her an opportunity to air her views about forced marriage and the importance of educating the girl child. The session was so engaging.

Ahead of the day of the girl child international, we celebrate one of our beneficiary Rahel.

The main drivers of early/forced child marriage in our community is identified as teenager pregnancy, poverty, lack of education and sch drop out. At Smiles of hope Kenya we create awareness on the importance of education to the community and promotion of girls' education and livelihoods, we provide girls with social support to achieve their educational goals among other measures. It is our intention to identify best measures to delay child marriage. Rahel currently a student at Nuru Secondary school and a 2nd year narrowly escaped forced child marriage. Her mother who left home few years ago due to misunderstanding with the father, left Rahel no option but to grow the hard way. Being survived by her father who is a fisherman for over 10years, they are below the poverty line as the father got a chronic disease that his health has deteriorated and currently on drugs. Due to lack of knowledge on the importance of girl child Education, he has been tempted to marry her off. Her elder sister got married at a tender age due to Teen pregnancy. Rahel was only 14 years when I met her in school when we visited them for mentorship, and that is where I got her sad story, that her father intends to marry her off, and in fact negotiations are underway. I later visited the father and had a nice dialogue who responded so well and gave me the go ahead to support Rahel to the highest level of education. She is a hardworking girl, she scored 341 marks in the KCPE. She could even have scored better marks were it not be for the marriage negotiations going on while sitting for her exam. I’m seeing a future leader and a role model, someone who will raise her voice against child marriage by sharing her true life story. Smiles of hope is committed to promoting children's rights and empowering girls to become catalysts of change.

This story was submitted in response to GirlForce: Unscripted and Unstoppable.

Comments 16

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Hello, Elizabeth,

You are changing Rahel's future by allowing her to finish her studies. Thank you for helping and mentoring her. She seems to be a smart lady. Is the negotiation for marriage still ongoing? Is it necessary for her to still get married? Or is there a way for her to drop the deal and focus on her schooling?

Thank you for sharing the context of early/forced childhood marriage with us. I hope there will be better opportunities and options for women in your country. Nevertheless, you are doing a great job. Keep it up!

Elizabeth Ziro
Oct 09
Oct 09

Hallo Karen,
I really appreciate your positive feedback. I am happy to have brought an end to the negotiations and it is not necessary for her to get married until the time she finds it convenient , of course after she has attained 18+ years, finished her education and earns an income good enough to support herself and dependants.

Looking forward to better opportunities and options for women in Kenya.

Hello, dear,

Wow, that is great news! I'm curious how do you end negotiations in your community? Does the supposed bride need to pay something to end marriage deal? I know in the tribes here in our country, either party (bride or groom) will have to give a number of horses in order to relieve the family from shame.

I'm happy that Rahel can now chart her future without the need to worry about getting married. Thank you for supporting her.

With women like you, women in Kenya will have better opportunities. Amen.

Elizabeth Ziro
Oct 10
Oct 10

Greetings,
Rescuing a girl child from child marriage can be easy and at the same time an uphill task. I have rescued several and actually each of the girls has a different approach and a story. For Rahel, that very day i visited her father and needed to know the truth of the matter, he agreed and explained himself what made him took that decision. It was simple, that he was not able to educate Rahel past primary level of education due to his financial and health status. However, he was so much for Rahel to continue with her studies. He knew if he will not marry her off, Rahel will definitely get pregnant while at home like many other cases and he will have to take care of the young one, unlike to marry her off she will have someone to look after plus the young one. So, when i assured him that i will take care of her education to the highest level possible for her to be able to take care of herself and her siblings, his father was so happy and we became friends. From there on, we have been getting in touch often even visiting them at home on holidays.

I did not get myself involved in how much dowry was already paid and how it was to be refunded. I believe it was sorted though :-)

Yes, i hope so. My approach is using the same girls in the future to mentor their siblings, neighbors and schoolmates on how to delay child marriage and focus on with their studies untill when the time is right.

I am humbled and lets keep the conversation going.

Wow, how brave you are to talk to her father which is a good step, by the way. It’s nice to get the father’s perpective that he thought he’s doing Rahel a favor by marrying off. I’m glad you settled this amicably and developed a healthy relationship with them.

You have a gift of negotiation, my dear sis. May you continue to use that to convince more girls to return to school instead of marrying young.

Yes, of course. I love to keep in touch with you. You are an amazing woman. May you mentor more girls.

Anita Shrestha
Oct 09
Oct 09

Dear
Thank you very much for sharing. Keep it up continue.

Elizabeth Ziro
Oct 10
Oct 10

Thank you Anita, i appreciate the positive feedback. Hope you have a good day

Anita Shrestha
Oct 10
Oct 10

Welcome to my dear, keep it updating further

Elizabeth Ziro
Oct 10
Oct 10

I will sure keep you posted. Remain blessed

Charity Birla
Oct 10
Oct 10

Great work. more grease to your elbows. Girl Child marriage is so common among moslim families and they have no voice or choice. Congratulations for giving her the opportunity to continue studies

Elizabeth Ziro
Oct 10
Oct 10

Truly humbled by your positive feedback Charity. She is among the few who are lucky. We are determined to rescue one girl at a time. Remain blessed

Lisbeth
Oct 11
Oct 11

Dear Elizabeth,
Congrats on winning the heart of Rachel Father. This was a timely Intervention, at least you have save a young girl from signing her "dead warrant".
So very brave of you. May you continue your hard in supporting these innocent girls from breaking from their bound Rob's.
Have a great weekend and warm regards

Elizabeth Ziro
Oct 16
Oct 16

Greetings to you Lisbeth,
Im so much humbled. It is not easy especially when the parents have already received some down payment as dowry, but i prayed to God to give us the breakthrough. Her dreams are still valid and i cant wait when she comes out successful and taking up the challenge to mentor and be an ambassador and a voice for the voiceless in matters child and forced marriage which is very common in our country.

Hope you have a good time

Jill Langhus
Oct 13
Oct 13

Hi Elizabeth,

Thank goodness Rahel has a shot at pursuing her dreams. So happy to hear that your intervention paid off. I'm looking forward to hearing how Rahel's education and future pan out, and what she decides to do. Thanks for sharing your uplifting and inspiring story. Keep up the excellent work, dear!

XX

Elizabeth Ziro
Oct 16
Oct 16

Hi Jill
So encouraging to read from you. Her dreams are still valid and my efforts are not invain. Her wisdom and sheer determination gives me so much strength to keep rescuing more. They need a champion who will fight for their rights. I will sure keep you posted

xx

Jill Langhus
Oct 18
Oct 18

Hi Elizabeth,

Thank you, dear:-) Very true!!

Yay! I'm sure other girls will be very grateful for your future efforts, dear. Yes, they do!

Looking forward to it...

Hope you have a great weekend!

XX