Berite's parents are farmers in southern Ethiopia. Due to poverty and drought, they could barely provide their children with one proper meal a day. Arranging for Berite to marry an older man would mean one less mouth to feed and one less child to
“I thought marriage was the best option, for her and also for the whole family,” explains Berite’s mother, Tadelech, who was married to Berite’s father at age 13.
“Even though I didn’t wish the same for my daughter, we are leading a desperate life … forcing us to take desperate measures.”
The family started receiving bride-price offers of up to US$970 when Berite turned 11. In sixth grade she dropped out of school, preparing to wed a man she'd never met.
When the World Vision-supported child wellbeing committee in her village learned about her situation, they took swift action. They counselled her family on the legal implications and long-term negative impacts of child marriage.
The family realised Berite belongs in a school uniform, not a bridal gown, and called off the wedding.
“Had we not received the training from World Vision, I would have been married by now," says Berite, now aged 15. "And I would have felt sad when seeing my friends go to school.”
“World Vision’s training and advice have enabled me to continue my education,” she adds. “When I grow up, I want to be a medical doctor to heal ill people.”