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WORLD RELIEF: Volunteers, Women’s Group and Preventing Childhood Marriage

Marianne Bach
Women's Group

Errenah is 14-years-old and lives in the Chuya village in Mbelwa region of Mzimba district. She is in 6th grade at Machamira Primary School and is the oldest of seven children. As the first-born child, she wanted to be a role model to her siblings and was determined to accomplish that goal by focusing on her education. Her parents, however, had other plans for her. They had already arranged for a man to marry Errenah and had already paid him a dowery. Coaxed by her mother, Errenah decided to leave school and get married to a boy she barely knew.

Thankfully, Errenah’s home was on the list of homes to be visited by an Integral Mission Servants (IMS). IMS volunteers are church members who go out into the community to provide biblical teaching and lessons on health and wellness, child development, gender equity and more.

One day, an IMS volunteer named Gazina visited Errenah’s home. Gazina does not have any children of her own, but is considered one of her community’s most respected mothers. She serves as a Sunday school teacher, community elder and trainer to other IMS volunteers. Gazina has also been instrumental in ending early child marriage, child labor and other child rights violations in her community.

While visiting Errenah’s home, Gazina overheard unusual discussions relating to marriage preparations. Gazina spoke with Errenah and confirmed that she was being forced into an early marriage. Gazina pleaded with Errenah’s parents not to go through with the arrangements, but the parents were intent on marrying their daughter off. It became evident that her efforts were not going to yield any results, Gazina sought help from a mother’s group at Machamira Primary School.

The mother’s group is strong and well equipped to handle issues like child marriage. The group decided to intervene on behalf of Errenah. After speaking with Errenah’s parents, Errenah was rescued from early marriage and sent back to school. The mother group also pledged to assist her with school necessities.

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