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Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

My name is Agnes. I am 18 years old. I live in Zambia.

I was living with my mother and then I moved to the city to live with my sister so I could start Grade 1. I was there until Grade 4.

My sister’s husband was supporting me at school so when he died, I came back to live with my parents.

When I was younger my favourite subjects were English and community studies.

I wanted to be a nurse or a soldier.

I enjoyed telling stories and playing with my friends, those who were near me and encouraging me at school.

I got pregnant with Timothy when I was 14 years old. I had just finished my Grade 7 exams. I had passed with very good marks and I was among those who were sponsored to go to a high school in Livingstone. But, because I was pregnant I was not able to go.

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.