Misa's Story

The villagers laughed as they watched Misa carrying her newborn home from the clinic where she had just given birth. “She is so young. She looks like a child carrying a baby, not a mother.”

It was true that Misa was very young to be having a child. She was married at age 11 and she gave birth to her firstborn at the age of 12 years old.

In this area of Africa the customary age for girls to marry can be as early as 14, but in Misa’s case she was given early in marriage by her father as it is up to the father to decide when his daughter will marry. Each daughter can bring a handsome dowry (bride price) to the bride’s family.

Misa’s father was fortunate because he had several daughters, one he had already sold in an arranged marriage. The next daughter had been scheduled for marriage by the father, and in fact the dowry had been paid, but to the father’s surprise this daughter ran away at the last minute, refusing her father’s wishes. To avoid family embarrassment and having to cancel the wedding arrangements, the father decided to offer the groom his next daughter, Misa, even though she was only 11 years. The groom accepted, after all, this would be a second wife for him, and Misa looked strong enough to bare him many more children. The wedding went as planned only with an alternate bride, Misa. And one year later she gave birth to her first of 13 children.

Although Misa is considered a good African woman in her culture because she birthed many children and has been faithful to her family, truly Misa’s plight in life has been a hard one, full of struggle. Her husband became an alcoholic and sickly, and their small farm produces a decreasing amount each year, so year after year they remain poverty stricken. Their mainstay is cassava and arrowroot, both which have little nutritional value. Even basic things like schooling for her children have proved impossible because they lacked school fees. For years Misa had her children at home and she herself could not teach them because she does not read or write. However, SMI heard of their case and has been able to offer Misa & her younger children (who are still of school age) some assistance through our School Helps Program. We are hopeful that these children will finish their secondary education. In Misa’s words . . . “This is one of the greatest things that has happened to our family. Thank you for helping us. It gives us hope for a better future.”