During my first trip to MCM in 2012 Alliet became my shadow. She was 11. From that point on every time I visited she was literally at my side, holding my hand. To say I had a soft spot for her was an understatement. Alliet struggled in school. It was expected that she would need to learn a trade or start up a small business to become independent. That was my dream for her and MCM could provide that opportunity. It all changed last year when she became pregnant, left MCM and married the baby’s father to become his 2nd wife. I was devastated.
This October I learned she lived nearby in a village I was visiting so I headed towards her house. Alliet was outside, arms crossed and head down watching me. I had a choice to make – be the “disappointed parent” or show her unconditional love. I wrapped my arms around her. She eventually looked at me and said “I am accepting of my situation.” We both knew what that meant. Alliet had lost the opportunity to get vocational training, an apprenticeship or funds to start up a business. From this point on she would work day-in and day-out to feed her family and likely be stuck in the cycle of poverty in which she was raised. My frustration was in the fact that she could not see her future otherwise! She felt her only choice was to get married and trust in the promises of this man. At that moment my failure stung. Child Marriage in Malawi Stats
Looking back on it now I realize that I hadn’t failed her, neither had MCM. Alliet had been given every opportunity to change her life’s circumstances; a quality education, adequate nutrition, access to health care and love. The problem is that the these children face ENORMOUS issues. Given the right resources some will rise above them, while others will succumb to the pressures of a trapped community. I walked away unable to hold back my tears of sadness for what could have been for Alliet, and of joy for having met her beautiful daughter, Lennie.
I’m more driven than ever to make sure MCM has the resources necessary to provide their 154 children with every possible opportunity to change the course of their lives. We are seeing positive results. More choices are becoming available. For Alliet I believe she’ll be a loving mother. I pray she will find a way to provide for her family and move beyond her current circumstances.