"I wanted to finish my education and not be given as a wife to a man I didn’t know."

“When I was 13 I was finishing Grade 7. I didn’t know but a marriage had been arranged for me by my parents to a man. In this area families will arrange a marriage for their daughter without her knowing and then agree that the man can abduct the girl. It’s cultural. It’s because a girl would otherwise be resistant. Once you’ve been abducted you’re his."

"The day of the abduction I was in school. While I was preparing to leave there were men waiting for me outside, ready to abduct me, right in front of the school."

"They had paid a boy at the school 10 Birr (27p) to point me out to them. The Principal of the school heard about what was happening and found me and told me not to go out the front gate. He helped me escape out the back of the school."

“I ran home and asked my parents why they had done that. They said that he was rich, from town, and could look after me, so it was better that I accepted. I said, ‘No, I don’t want this, I want to continue my education!’"

"I tried to negotiate with my mother but she was very much in favour of the marriage. So I went back to the Principal and through him I ended up becoming a CHADET beneficiary."

“My parents kept insisting on the marriage, but I was very resistant. I kept telling them that if they tried to marry me I would run away, I would go to another country, anywhere. That made them listen to me a bit more. And by then, CHADET was making people aware of the issue. My parents were part of the Community Conversations that CHADET organised and they slowly started changing their minds."

“Eventually the marriage was terminated. At last I could focus on my schooling again. My parents are still part of Community Conversations and today I know that my father tells people how his daughter was rescued from early marriage. He tells them that if she hadn’t been rescued, she’d be carrying a big burden on her back, and wouldn’t be able to complete her education. He is really supportive now. They even tell me to study now!”

We need your support to reach girls just like Bezu.

Women and girls all around the world face inequality but extreme poverty puts women at an even greater disadvantage. We've launched a £100,000 appeal to address urgent issues and funding needs in Sierra Leone, Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Globally, one in three women are beaten and/or sexually abused in their lifetime, over 700 million women alive today were married before their 18th birthday, 130 million girls between the age of six and 17 are out of school and 71% of the estimated 40.3 million people in modern slavery are girls and women.

Our programmes are directly addressing the needs of girls and women in situations like these. From income generation programmes for teenage mothers, rehabilitation for sexually exploited children and women and education for girls working on rubbish dumps, our work provides hope and opportunity.

You can help support gender equality in Africa by texting GIRL to 70085 to donate £20. You can also call 0800 254 5656 or donate below.

Sierra Leone 

Teenage pregnancy is gradually becoming a crisis. We are working in Burma, a small community on the outskirts of Kenema in Eastern Sierra Leone with a population of 6,000. Here, 60% of girls become pregnant before the age of 15. We need to expand our work with this community, working with teenage mothers to provide them with education, child care and development opportunities. In 12 months, 165 rural female-headed households have already benefitted from our work.

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We have been working to reduce the risk of children living in five transit towns along the main highway connecting Uganda and Kenya - an epicentre for child sexual exploitation and abuse and the HIV and AIDS pandemic. The health and safety of girls is at serious risk and we need to expand our work. 1,262 truck drivers have attended our testing and information events. 206 girls have withdrawn from sex work, 31 went back to school and 175 enrolled onto vocational training.

We want to continue to support girls to find viable ways of earning money and improving access to quality sexual and reproductive health services for adult female sex workers.

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We are supporting girls and young women living in slums alongside their parents and siblings. Our focus is on education, vocational training, medical care and counselling. We also run a family tracing and reintegration programme. This is an intensive rehabilitation programme with a range of support which we need to expand. 300 street girls have completed the programme already with a 99% retention rate.

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