Marie is a powerful, inspiring 18 year old girl who lives in the slum of Namuwongo, Uganda with her brothers and her mother. Her father left the family when she was much younger, and Marie remembers that when he was still around his mother was not allowed to work because of cultural traditions within the community.
Even after her father left, Marie’s mother couldn’t work because she had suffered for so many years being oppressed and told she wasn’t allowed to work.
These early years had a major impact on Marie and her character has been defined by them. She too would stay in her house with her mother because she knew the dangers of working outside – the chances of her being raped and falling pregnant are very high in impoverished slums like Namuwongo – and wanted to take care of her mother.
Even when she was put under pressure to marry in her early teens, she refused and convinced her mother that this was not the life every girl is destined for.
“Girls in the community, they also face the challenge of…they are undermined. They look at them like a useless thing in a community. But then because they don’t have the knowledge of what a girl can do, they just take them like that.”
When our team on the ground in Namuwongo heard about Marie and her unwavering drive for female equality, we asked her if she would like to be enrolled on our Walk to School programme.
When asked why her education is important, Marie replied: “School is very important because people, they may say they have low self esteem. If you are to go to school, you can get the knowledge of how to do everything in the world. And you can be like ‘yes I now have confidence with me.”
Since starting her education, Marie has become a class leader at school and continue to this day to be an inspiration to every girl she meets at school and in her community.