Amina Was Almost A Child Bride

By: Simone Jussar, Quality Communication Coordinator, Save the Children Mozambique

Save the Children Mozambique’s adolescent development programs have been implementing activities about sexual and reproductive health, and non-formal education in order to provide opportunities and improve the life conditions of adolescents. We have worked with education and health partners and community radios station. Since implementation, the program has been successful in reducing cases of early pregnancy, early school leaving, and premature marriages in our impact communities through awareness lectures, plays with messages to discourage early marriages and early pregnancy, and demonstrative sections about the use of contraceptives, like condoms.

In Nacala-a-velha in the Muendaze community, lives the adolescent Amina, a 15-year-old student of the 7th grade. We learned that she escaped from an early marriage situation. Everything started when a gentleman who lives in Nampula city went to Amina’s home to talk to the adolescent parents. “He came in my home and told my parents that he was interested in marrying me and my father didn’t accept. He insisted and my parents forced me to accept. I refused saying that I don’t want to marry,” said Amina.

Amina’s father continued to pressure his daughter and went to the school to ask for a transfer, claiming that his daughter would study in another city where Amina’s relatives lived so that the school principal would provide him with Amina’s transfer documents.

However, STC field staff, teachers, and the school principal intervened and the transfer of the school was denied. They worked to convince the adolescent’s father to refuse the marriage proposal, and after many meetings with community leaders and the brother of a girl who lives in the other city that Amina was going to transfer to, it was possible to convince the father to let the adolescent continue studying in order to fulfil her dream of becoming a teacher one day. Amina’s teacher said, “Early marriages make the adolescent waste time, it’s important to study first”. Despite the significant reductions in cases of early marriages in the impact community as a result of Save the Children intervention in past years, there is still some cases of early marriage and it is necessary to continue sensitizing and mobilizing the communities to discourage early marriage, since some families prefer that their children marry instead of continue studying.

Amina with her family in the Muendaze community

Currently to avoid early marriage Amina, and other adolescents have been actively participating in SCT awareness campaigns doing theater-teens. Amina has been sharing her story with other adolescents. “I only cried because my father was serious to marry me and if I didn’t try to find help I wouldn’t be here today, so I thank Save the Children”, said Amina. The adolescent program has been implemented in 36 communities involving 18,953 adolescents with 7,731 boys and about 11,222 girls.

Persistent Work Leads to Positive Change

By: Cheeko Garcia, Media and Communications Officer

A graduate of Social Work, Stanley has been with Save the Children for five years now. He works as Sponsorship Assistant, his task requires him to work closely in rural communities. Over time, he has witnessed how the organization’s programs have improved the welfare of children.

Stanley, Save the Children Sponsorship Assistant

When Stanley first worked with Save the Children, he noticed that majority of Save the Children partner schools needed assistance even in the most basic things. Located in remote, mountainous, and hard-to-reach communities, these schools barely receive government support. “There were schools which do not have clean water for children to drink, children do not receive dental and health check-ups, there were not enough books to read, and other students go to class hungry,” he recalls. As a result, children often go to school weak, untidy, and distracted while others lose interest and chose not to attend school anymore. “I have also witnessed some parents who punished their children for misbehavior either by pinching or scolding them in front of other people,” he added.

Stanley devotes much of his time working in the field particularly with children and parents. Stanley travels to remote villages both in coastal areas and in highlands. Spending hours of travel through deep rivers, muddy roads, or rough terrain is common to him. Upon arriving in the communities, he walks through farmlands and around villages with huts made of dried nipa leaves and bamboo to look for children. As the bridge between sponsors and the children, he talks to the children to know how they are doing and have their photos taken. He also delivers to and collects letters from children.

Stanley conducts a workshop for volunteers from Maitum, Sarangani Province. The training is part of the organization’s commitment to capacitate its partners in delivering programs for education, health, and child rights, among others.

Save the Children provides much-needed help through its Sponsorship Programs. Through partnership, the sponsorship programs support schools and communities. The programs facilitate the delivery of basic needs such as clean water in schools, train teachers, advocate for public funds for children, develop school disaster preparedness plans, and provide assistance to children’s groups. Also through the programs, healthy habits for children, child rights, and positive discipline are promoted among the members of the community.

Stanley taking a photo of Honey Jean for the Annual Family Update

Today, Stanley says he has seen much improvement among parents and children alike. In schools, pupils wash their hands regularly, teachers conduct tooth brushing activities, and children teach proper grooming habits to their peers. Parents have refrained from hurting and humiliating their children. Students and their communities now enjoy clean drinking water in schools. Children who were trained by Save the Children have gained much confidence and have become more participative in school.

“I hope our sponsors will continue to extend help because I have personally witnessed the good impact of our interventions. My commitment to the work that I do stays strong because I see that children are happy, learning and protected,” says Stanley.