Transforming lives in Ethiopia

Photo: M Benanav

Child marriage: Haalima's story

Haalima was only 15 years old when her parents told her she had to marry a man she’d never met — a man who was almost 20 years her senior. She lives in the Afar region of north east Ethiopia; where consecutive failed wet seasons and a devastating civil conflict have meant that child marriage is on the rise.

"I begged my father not to make me do it... My dream was to get an education, but my family told me repeatedly that I was to be a wife and a mother, nothing more.”

Most girls in Haalima’s position would have to accept their fate, not knowing there was another way. But the previous year, Haalima met a woman named Hasna Hamad — a meeting that changed her life.

Women Extension Workers: trusted role models for girls

Hasna, a Woman Extension Worker with our partner the Afar Pastoralist Development Association (APDA), was placed in Haalima’s village to speak with the community about women’s rights and health.

Woman wearing a red skirt and black headscarf.
Hasna, APDA Women Extension Worker

“I was fascinated with what Hasna had been explaining to women and girls in the community,” Haalima says.

“She told us why and how we could defend our own interests. How we could be wives and mothers but only once we were ready.”

Hasna’s words stuck with Haalima.

On the eve of her wedding, she made the brave decision to go against her family’s wishes and fight for a better life for herself. She decided to run away.

“I didn’t get far before my brothers found me,” Haalima says. “They brought me back home and tied me up using thick ropes. It took me hours to loosen the knots but eventually, I was able to free myself. I ran through the darkness to Hasna’s home.”

You can help protect girls like Haalima

With your support, our partners can protect girls from forced marriages, stand up for girls’ rights and continue to work alongside communities to end child marriage for good.

4 in 10 girls in Ethiopia are being married before their 18th birthday.

These girls are more likely to have a teenage pregnancy, resulting in a greater chance of birth injuries like obstetric fistula, or even death. They won’t have control over decisions that affect their lives, including the opportunity to finish school and be able to earn an income. They will also have a greater likelihood of experiencing violence at the hands of their husband.

With your help, our partners can protect girls and work alongside communities to end child marriage.

Parents believe they have no alternative; marrying their daughters to wealthier families, desperate to give their children security.

How will my donation help women and girls in Ethiopia?

Our partner APDA is working hard to end this violation of girls’ rights, by:

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Training and employing Women Extension Workers; respected and valued women living within communities, who are there to support girls who might be at risk and intervene when needed.

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Promoting female literacy and empowering women and girls by holding workshops for young people to learn how to articulate their views on child marriage, and respectfully engage their elders.

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Coaching clan leaders so that when they return to their regions, they ensure this illegal practice cannot take place.

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Providing emergency food rations and assisting parents to access opportunities for work.

We aim to raise £31,625 to fund the training for 25 Women Extension Workers and help reverse the terrifying rise in child marriages. Your donation can help us reach this target.

Please donate today and help protect girls.

Find out more

Watch our animation to see just how important supporting girls can be for lifelong change…

1 in 5 girls in the Afar region of Ethiopia will experience FGM

For every £1 we raised in 2022…

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81p funds local projects in Ethiopia helping to transform lives.

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19p helps to raise the next £1 and funds essential running costs.

Why Ethiopiaid?

We raise funds for local Ethiopian charities to transform lives and achieve lasting change.

Our partners know the context and solutions; we listen and provide appropriate support. Growth and development are tracked in local communities using robust monitoring and evaluation. Partnerships continue as long as there’s a clear need and opportunities to make a lasting impact.

Our vision – an Ethiopia in which every person has access to quality education, healthcare and a life of dignity.

Our mission – breaking the cycle of poverty by enabling the poorest and most vulnerable and their communities to live with dignity, to build resilience and achieve real and sustainable solutions to the challenges they face.

3 Afari girls with beaded head dresses, standing together