IN HER WORDS : from the Safe Schools for Refugees Project in The Gambella, Ethiopia, managed by Plan International



18-year-old South Sudanese refugee Nyajimacame under pressure from her parents to get married when she was 17. “My father was looking for a marriage proposal for me in exchange for 10 cattle,” she says. “In our culture, girls usually get married at 15.”

“I don’t want to get married now,” Nyajimasays.


My education is more important than marriage.”

Nyajima sought the help of the School Mothers club set up by Plan International. 30-year-old Nyakier, herself a refugee, took up her cause. “I faced the consequences of myearly marriage,” says Nyakier. “I don’t want to see girls like Nyajima get married instead of going to school.”

“I told Nyajima’s mother that she had been absent from school for a week and asked her why. Nyajima’s mother told me frankly that her husbandhad arranged a marriage and she will be married soon.”

Using the skills learned at a Plan International trainingsession, Nyakier was able to persuade the parents to call off the wedding. “Convincing Nyajima’s parents was not an easy task. We had a long discussion. The family finally agreed to cancel the marriage.”

Nyajima was overjoyed. “Nyakier was my main reason for my escape from this. The School Mothers area very good example for us.We really trust and rely on them–whatever they tell us is for our ownbenefit.”

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