She was married at the tender age of nine. That was in 2008. No one forced her but being an orphan, poverty made her turn to marriage to meet her needs.
Now, at 16, Tadala Chimwemwe of Group Village Head (GVH) Somba, Traditional Authority (T/A) Lundu in Blantyre has two daughters, Faiza and Shilah Jawadu. Faiza is in Standard One at Malaka Primary School and Shilah attends a nursery school in the same village.
Tadala was married at Lirangwe Trading Centre to a tailor whom she knew by his last name, Jawadu.
Although Jawadu provided her needs, she lacked peace of mind. She says her husband always insulted and beat her as he wished. But she could not leave him. Jawadu was her pillar.
In 2012, with the help of the area development committee (ADC), Tadala was withdrawn from her marriage and returned to school. She is now in Form One at Lirangwe Secondary School but lacks K4 500 to pay for her school fees.
ADC chairperson Dzinkambani Nkhoma said Tadala was withdrawn from marriage to continue her education.
“She is a bright girl. When she sat her Primary School Leaving Certificate of Education [PSLCE] examinations at Chivumbe Primary School, she was one of the few pupils that were selected to Lirangwe Secondary School.
“Sadly, she is failing to continue her studies because she lacks school fees,” says Nkhoma.
He said several girls have been successfully withdrawn from marriages in the area but most of them, like Tadala, are too poor to pay school fees.
“Tadala and other girls in similar situations need support from government and other organisations if they are to stay in school and succeed. We need to find ways to financially support girls that withdrawn from marriages, otherwise they will not stay in school,” said Nkhoma.
He added that Tadala is determined to succeed in school, but the lack of school fees and financial support is worsening her already troubled life.
“The reason I accepted to leave my marriage was that I should return to school, but now I cannot attend school because of fees. I am beginning to think that marriage was better because despite Jawadu’s torture, I had food and clothing,” she says.
Tadala says the only support she gets now is from her elder who depends on her husband, a miller at Lirangwe. However, she says, that support is not reliable as the man earns too little to support two families.
The young mother of two says she wants to become a banker and believes education is the only key for her success.
“I want to live in a decent house and my children to have their needs met. As of now, I am counting on farm yields and with this year’s poor harvest, I do not know what tomorrow will bring,” says Tadala.