Ntonya Sande

Ntoya Sande is 15 and lives in Kachaso village, Nsanje district, Malawi. She was married at 13 to Sande Chimkangu, who was 19 at the time. They have a one year old daughter, Silika Sande. He paid her parents MWK 25,000 ($34) and 50 kg of sugar.  Their crops were destroyed by the flooding which swamped the district in 2015.

“I used to stay with my parents, but my parents are very poor so they didn’t manage to send me to school. So I was just staying at home with them. My parents were not working, but they used to have a small piece of land. But the floods took all our harvest.

“After that, we were fetching some firewood in the forest and selling it. Depending on what we managed to sell, we were able to buy some maize, which we would use to make porridge.

“My husband went to my home to ask for my hand in marriage. My parents were the ones who accepted. I wasn’t thinking about getting married at that age.

“I met my husband when he came to ask for my hand in marriage. I didn’t know him before.  When I saw him asking for my hand, I was not all that happy because I was seeing him for the first time.

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“I tried to negotiate, to tell my parents that I wasn’t ready, that I didn’t want to get married, but they told me that I had to because that would mean one mouth less at a table.

“I had to get married because they didn’t have enough to feed the whole family, I was sent to be married because of shortage of food in the house.  Otherwise they would have waited. That’s what I believe.

“Before an aunt talked to me. I was told I had to have sex. I managed to sleep with my husband the very first day when we got married.

“Every day, when the day breaks, I go fetching for firewood. Sometimes my husband comes with me. Then we sell it. With the money we get from what we sell, we buy food.

“At times when we sell a lot of firewood, we buy maize and we prepare porridge, and if we have enough money, we also buy sweet potato, and in other situations we buy nyemba beans.

“Sometimes we only eat once a day, only in the afternoon, sometime we eat twice in the afternoon.

“It’s almost the same. We were struggling. Now that I am married, I am also struggling.”

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