Charity Lloyd is 19. She got married at the age of 17 after her mother died during heavy flooding in the Nsanje district of Malawi, an event blamed by some experts on changing climate. Her father had died a few years earlier. She lives in Malakeza village in the Nsanje district of Malawi with her husband Isaac Chuva, 23 and their daughter Eveless, one and a half years old.
“My name is Charity Lloyd. I am 19. When the flooding came in 2015 I knew my mother was alone at home. I hired a boat to go and fetch her. So I managed to do that, to rescue my mother from the flooding area to the high land.
“But my mother fell ill while we were in the camp and though they took her to the hospital, she stayed there for a day and then she passed away.
“I felt bad inside, because by then I was all by myself. I had no one to look after me. All the donations coming in the camp were only directed to families. I was struggling in the camp and that prompted me to find a husband, so I was lucky that a man came and we decided to get married.
“Married life is fine, but we are struggling, we are not harvesting enough to cover meals for the family.
“It is an effect of climate change, the weather conditions are not allowing us to harvest enough for the family because the rainfall is not enough for the harvesting and there are also continued dry spells.
“Rampant cutting down of trees has provoked these changes in weather. Even cutting down of trees around rivers causes floods, because the water just moves in, there is nothing to stop it.
“When I was little I dreamed of higher education. I really wanted to go to school, to be a part of everything. In a community preference goes to those who can read and write. So I wanted to go to school so that I could be a part of the life of the community.
“When my father was alive, we were managing to farm and harvest enough food. But when he passed away, it was difficult to sustain. I stopped going to school at 15 years old.
“There is no possibility for me going back to school because I have to take care of my daughter, I have no one to take care of her, I have to be home, in the village for her.
“When the day breaks, I concentrate on household chores, like cooking, washing taking care of my daughter.
“I thought I was going to get married at 25 years old. I didn’t know what to expect from marriage, I didn’t have any knowledge about it. We were married for ten months before I got pregnant.
“My dreams for my daughter is for her to be educated, up to the highest level, to go through high school, and then get a nice job.”
The husband’s story
“I am Isaac Chuva. I am 23 years old. After running away from the flooding, people just came to the camp to get food and to eat.
“I was staying with my brother in the camp. And she was staying with the mother. When she lost her mother, she was not able to access some food, but I was also struggling. So we sat down and discussed a possibility to create a family, to be considered a family so that we could get food rations from donations. The flooding brought us together.
“We usually both look after the field but since we don’t have enough production from the fields, I wake up early and try to get some little jobs, piece work, in other areas so that I can get some money.”