In Madagascar 41% of girls are married by the time they are 18 - many have little education and little hope if the marriage fails. This is the story of Angeline, a single mom to seven children, and how a Freedom Challenge project is changing her life
At 17 Angeline dropped out of school to get married. Despite her protests – she desperately wanted to continue her education – Angeline’s parents accepted the proposal of a 42-year-old man on her behalf.
“I didn’t know what love meant,” says Angeline. “When I got married it was not my will, but because of difficulties in my family. I didn’t know him and it wasn’t a good base for marriage.”
Angeline found being married to a man she didn’t know incredibly hard. So not long after the wedding she ran back to her parent's house expecting a warm reception from her family. But they were not happy; they beat her and sent her back to her husband.
Pushed back together
Ten years later the couple separated again only to be pushed back together by both sets of parents.
When Angeline’s husband told her that he wanted to take on another wife she was angry and could not agree to his request. Not long after they officially divorced.
Unable to get a job due to a lack of education, Angeline sold vegetables on the side of the road to provide for her family.
Angeline has five of her seven children living with her as well as her elderly parents. Her ex-husband does not give her any financial support. Every day is a struggle.
“I don’t think I will get married again, but something I would like to do is care for my children and pay for their studies,” says Angeline.
A friend told Angeline about a Freedom-Challenge project called Perla (the Malagasy word for pearl) which provides vulnerable women with training opportunities.
A new opportunity
“I thank God for sending this project here to help us, to create a new thing for us to do like sewing,” Angeline says. “I can now work and find money.”
Even before she graduated, people around town began approaching Angeline to make their clothes and she is now earning a regular income.
These newly learnt skills directly impact Angeline's family; she can now repair their clothing and sew the children's school uniforms.
But that’s not all.
“Something I learned here is the love of God,” explains Angelina. “I know that God loves me. The way He provided this training is an example. I know how to worship God now. I know how to pray.”
“These women are worth more than jewels to God," explains one of the project leaders.