My name is Samantha Chidodo I am 21 years old. When I was 17 years old, I experienced child marriage. In this marriage I faced a lot of challenges and I started realizing that it was not working out. The man whom I was married would tell me that he never loved me.
We started arguing a lot until I made the decision to go home to tell my parents that the marriage was not working. The husband was very abusive; he used to beat me, verbally and emotionally abuse me. He even used to criticize the way I look. I approached my grandparents first to be the mediator between me and my parents. My parents asked me what I wanted to do and I indicated that I wanted to go back to school. My parents made it clear to me that they were going to prioritize my other siblings’ education first before me because I had distracted myself by getting married. They also said that if I decide to go back to school, there was no one who will be able to look after my child during the time I will be attending school. While I was still struggling to find out how I would pursue my education, I heard about Rozaria Memorial Trust and how they support girls like me.
Rozaria Memorial Trust started to support me with my school fees; they even supported me with stationery. The educational assistance I started to receive from RMT helped to ease conflicts and arguments between my parents and I. When I started receiving educational assistance, my father was left without any reason to argue against me going back to school as they initially thought they were going to use a lot of money to look after my child.
I was a person who was looked down upon even in my society. People used to say a lot of things, and I never imagined I would reach the stage that I am today (a first year law student). People used to say, “This girl was once married.” Rozaria Memorial Trust helped me heal through psycho-social support and counseling services. These counseling services helped the wound to heal and now I can stand for myself if people start reminding me of my marriage. I acknowledge that I have a child and I am also a human being and I am able to go to school. Now I am influencing other survivors of child marriage to go to school, to join the re-entry program which may change their lives. I managed to write my A’ level exams and I passed with 12 points. Now I am a first year law student at Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University (ZEGU). I truly appreciate Rozaria Memorial Trust partnering with ConnectHER for the support they gave me until now.
I am now spearheading Nhanga sessions in my community and I am game changer – my mission is to become a lawyer and fight for an end to child marriage and injustices against girls’ rights and wellbeing. I started my advocacy work in my community where I reside because cases of child marriage, teenage pregnancies and school dropouts due to SGBV are rife.
Thanks to the Gamechangers trainings conducted by Rozaria Memorial Trust, I am now conducting advocacy using my social media profile. I use my WhatsApp to about the importance of education because I am also an example to others because I went through it. I record videos and audios which I send to other girls and convey during Nhanga sessions. I started with the girls from my class and I established Nhanga. I used to talk about Sexual Health Reproductive Health Rights and teaching each other.
I am learning that advocacy is not always easy as we often face resistance from religious leaders however it’s important to always speak your truth and stand up for what you believe in. Now girls understand that they are special and they can do anything. I appreciate Rozaria Memorial Trust and its partners for joining hands with traditional leaders like Chief Bushu and Chief Nyamaropa. The bylaws developed by Chief Bushu and Chief Nyamaropa are helping to save girls from risk of child marriage and the emphasis on girls’ education in their Chiefdoms is critical to eradicating child marriage and stopping girls from child abuse. Girls living in rural communities need opportunities for them to thrive, I am happy I was awarded with an opportunity to go back to school.