“If it was not for her fellow students, my daughter would have ended up marrying a man who is more than twice her age at only 13. I cannot thank imagine1day and EAC enough for their awareness creation program about early marriage throughout our community,” says Girma Bekele, Eyerus, a grade 8 student’s father.
Eyerus was born and raised in the Anasa community. She has three siblings – two sisters and a brother. She is the last child of her family. Eyerus’s parents have sent all their kids to school. Pursuing education wasn’t an easy deal in their community though.
Abaynesh Tolesa, Eyerus’s teacher and gender club leader in Anasa primary school says, “Education, particularly girl’s education wasn’t valued for its worth in the Anasa community before imagine1day’s intervention. Early marriage is a major reason behind this. Both abduction and arranged marriage were bottlenecks that used to keep girls out of school. Imagine1day has created awareness about the value of education among community elders, religious leaders, Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs), the gender club, and the entire school community. These structures have mobilized the rest of the community members to send children to school and fight early marriage of all kinds. I thank imagine1day and EAC for creating this possibility in our community.”
Eyerus is one of the girls liberated from abduction because of the collaborative work of the gender club along with community elders, religious leaders, and PTAs of her school.
“I was abducted while going to school and the man took me to a place called Shelel, 30km far from my parent’s place. I stayed there for 10 days. I had lost hope and I used to cry day and night. I had no appetite. I was only 13, I was too young to face what I had faced. On the 10th day, I was shocked to see my teacher Abaynesh, gender club students, and police officers who had come to take me away from the place I was kept. That day was the happiest day of my entire life; the day I was freed of early marriage and got another chance at schooling,” says Eyerus explaining everything vividly.
Eyerus is among the outstanding students at her school. She is making the greatest out of her second chance at schooling. She also is an active participant in the gender club.
Eyerus says,” I have ranked 3rd in my class, and I am studying hard to rank first. I actively serve in the gender club as well. We are provided with soap and sanitary pads. We meet twice a month and I have never missed it. We discuss how to empower girls, menstrual health management, and about the betterment of girls’ education. I don’t want any girl to face what I have faced so I also share my story. I want to be a women’s rights activist while I complete my education. I thank imagine1day and EAC for everything they have done for me.”