Lucy Anusa is 15 years old and was married at 14. She gave birth to a daughter earlier this year but has been abandoned by her husband. The youngest of three sisters, she now lives with her parents in Namalaka near the southern end of Lake Malawi.
“My name is Lucy Anusa and I am 15. My parents are farmers. Before the drought, we had a vegetable garden. But my parents also had to do some piece work to add to what we got from the fields.
“My parents are poor. They couldn’t even afford to support me while I was going to school. I was lagging in the payment of school fees, couldn’t buy my exercise books or pens or soap and other necessities. The school was asking for a school development fund, meaning that every child had to pay 250 kwacha. My parents couldn’t afford that.
“At weekends they asked me to go and sell the vegetables. But in 2016, there was drought. It became difficult for my parents to grow vegetables. They couldn’t support me anymore. The 2016 drought really pushed me to get married.
“I met this man who proposed to get married. I had to accept despite the fact that my parents kept telling me good things about education. But I opted for marriage given the way things were at home. I had to make the decision on my own.
“My parents weren’t happy about it. But since I had already made my decision, nobody could stop me.
“I was thinking that after getting married, I would have a happy life. But also, I was seeing some friends, who are also married, doing good. I was thinking it would happen to me as well.
“I wasn’t thinking about education anymore. I was only thinking about supporting myself and my mother.
“There was no ceremony. I did it on my own. I just went and stayed with the man. He was 16 years old.
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“I was very happy during the first days of marriage because he gave me some money in order to support my parents. But my mother didn’t accept the money because she wasn’t happy with my marriage. So I kept it and bought whatever I needed.
“I had no problem with the man. We loved each other. But things changed when I got pregnant. He started having affairs outside the house. At the point, I wasn’t happy anymore.
“We quarrelled a lot. And then he told me that I had to go back home, otherwise he will bring another wife in this house.
“My mother had to welcome me back. But she kept reminding me: ‘My daughter, I told you about this. You are too young for marriage. Your have a lot of challenges when you go into marriage so young.’ My parents told me that after delivering this baby, I had to go back to school. I had to agree.
“We still find it difficult to survive. But after seeing the challenges of marriage, it is better to work together to find a solution.
“We are still depending on the vegetable garden. But because of our financial crisis, we have stopped because we are lacking money to buy pesticide for the garden.
“When I chat with my friends, we say we want to marry a doctor, someone who works at a hospital.
“I dream of a man who comes to the village and is able to support all the girls to go to school, buy them school uniforms, give them school necessities.
“I would need a man who looks very smart, can afford to buy food, stay in a good house and he should be able to support my parents as well.
“I want to go as far as college and become a teacher. I’m always happy seeing a teacher standing in the front of the class, being asked questions.
“I will work hard to support my baby so that one day, I will sit down with her and tell her my story. So that she will make a decision for herself.”