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Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

Grace is a 22 year old woman, and is sponsored through ChildFund. She was also close to being one of 31% of Zambian girls who are married off before the age of 18. This is her story.

My name is Grace and I was to be married at 13

My name is Grace. I am 22 years old. I am sponsored and I live in Zambia with my mother.

I did not know my father because he died when I was still young.

When I was a child I liked to play netball and skipping. I used to fear snakes and other wild animals.

I loved school. My favourite subjects were maths, science and geography. I loved playing with friends.

When I was young I dreamed of becoming a doctor.

I asked my family for my school tuition

After Grade 7 I asked my family for the money for my school tuition. My brothers told me they had no money, and that I would be married off soon. My mother was sick.

I wanted so badly to go to school, and instead I was to be sold for money to be a wife. A man came and paid a bride price to take me home. I did not know anything about marriage or what work would be involved.

I was surprised when the man came to pay a bride price. I was upset and wondered why he had come when I still wanted to go to school.

My heart sank.

Unreliable sources of water in rural communities can be devastating for children and their families, leading to life-threatening illnesses, diarrhoea and even famine. ChildFund sponsors have helped a young boy and his family in Zambia overcome these challenges.

Joshua is a shy nine-year-old boy from a remote community in south-central Zambia where, for generations, hundreds of families struggled to access water.

For Joshua, the water challenges in his community forced him to grow up too quickly, too soon.

Up until he was six years old, he spent most of his time looking after his two younger sisters while his parents collected water throughout the day.

His parents were out for hours at a time, and he would often have to soothe his little sisters when they cried.

“They would cry because they were hungry,” Joshua said. “I would try to make them stop crying. I used to hold my baby sister until my mother came, and give her some leftovers from the previous night.”