A Change of Heart: Child Marriage Burkina Faso

During a HER CHOICE event in Binde commune, Burkino Faso, one of the participants appeared to be much shaken after learning about the negative consequences of child marriage.

Emotionally he asked for the floor and spoke:

“My name is OUEDRAOGO Palingwendé and I come from the commune of Binde. I have followed the training today and I assure you that it touches my life. I now feel guilty towards my cousin for having spoiled her childhood! A while back, my cousin, Ouédraogo Safi, who is only 15 years old and was attending 6th grade, became pregnant from one of her classmates. I was angry and summoned the boy’s parents and confronted them about the act of their son. After threats and derogatory remarks from my side, with the aim to force the boy to marry my cousin, the boy’s parents agreed and welcomed my cousin in their home and take her in as their daughter in law. The arrangement was executed the same evening my cousin moved in with the father of her unborn child. I didn´t pay any attention to the opinion of either my cousin or that of the boy who also apologized for their immature act!  But thanks to what I have learnt now, I have just understood my role and responsibility in this case of child marriage in my family. I now understand the two young people were deprived of information and guidance. I too was misinformed! Now, I have changed my mind. I will try bring my cousin back to her parental home as soon as possible and support her in pursuing her studies to help her obtain a better future. For the still to be born child, and as the father is also underage without any financial means, I won´t spare any effort to provide any necessary help to both, the child and the mother, my little cousin.”

At the end of the training the team had a private conversation with Ouedraogo Palingwendé to better understand the problem and to see how they could help him.

Several months later the project team visited the family to monitor the situation.  They learnt that Ouédraogo Safi herself was an orphan and lives with her grandmother. In spite of that, before getting pregnant she was doing well at school in grade 6 at the Béré County High School. The project team learnt that she was now having the support of the family and especially during her pregnancy. She eventually gave birth by Caesarean section. The family is still committed to support her and her studies. In addition all family members converted themselves into change agents in their community. They now understand from their own experience the consequences of child marriage, which prevent a girl from enjoying freely and fully her basic rights such as the right to a quality education.

Ouedraogo Safi has already returned to schooling. Her courage, the example of change and commitment of her family have become a reference for the entire village!