Meet Natalia Mitiliage, victim of a premature marriage

My unfortunate story began one day when I was 9 years old. A relatively well-off man came and told my parents that I was of school going age. My parents told him that they did not have money to send me to school since they were not well off and were struggling to put my brothers through school.  The man “offered” to put me through school until I completed grade 10 and train as a teacher.

I registered at ADPP primary school, “Ants of the Future” where I did grade one to seven.  In my 7th grade, the ADPP primary school was closed due to government policies on private schools.  I stayed home for 2 years without going to school.  When I was 17 years old, the man who had been paying my school fees, came to my parents and asked them to return all the money and goods that he spent on me during the years I was studying.  Having no money or assets to pay back with, my parents decided to marry me off to this man.

During the marriage negotiations, he was very understanding and promised my parents that he would take me back to school. My parents happily accepted him as their son in law. We got married. In no time after the marriage I fell pregnant with our first child.  After the birth of our first child, my husband’s behavior changed.  He did not allow me to leave the house.

The day GIRLS Inspire project was introduced in my community was one of the happiest days of my life. I heard that it would be offering training to women and girls the majority of whom were victims of CEFM. I jumped for joy as I believed deep down my heart that this project was an answer to my prayers.  When Maria Amade selected me to be part of the training program, I could hardly believe my luck.  I was asked to select a course of choice and was told that the project will help me secure employment and or start a small business.  This was exactly what I was dreaming of, “to get trained, look for a job and take care of my family!”.  This was my opportunity to give my children a future better than mine.

I would like to thank ADPP-Girls Inspire project for the opportunity they have given me to go through this training. I would like to appeal to the project to extend its reach to other communities and other provinces because there are several vulnerable girls who need this opportunity and will benefit a lot from it.