She came from Niger, a place notorious for child marriage.
Her name is Abayomi which means “she brings me joy”.
She was only 14 when her parents insisted that she got married
Abayomi was filled with horror. She had heard stories of girls
as young as seven years old being sold into marriage.
She didn’t want to get married–yet. And when she did she
wanted it to be her decision. She wanted to go to school and
study to be a doctor. Her pleas fell on deaf ears.
A year passed and she was set to marry a man twice her age.
She had a wedding dress and the dreaded day was approaching.
There seemed to be no hope. She thought of running away but where
could she go? She couldn’t stay here. She thought of the horrible stories
she heard of young girls losing their lives when their parents married them
of because they were having children when they were too young. She didn’t
want to end up like them. She didn’t want to die in childbirth.
No. I’m going to fight this, she resolved. She continued to refuse the
arranged marriage until her father cancelled it. And to her surprise,
he encouraged her to join UNFPA’s Action for Adolescent Girls programme.
When Abayomi went to the programme, she met other girls who had left
school to marry and some were even pregnant. She was happy that she had
escaped the same fate. She had her father to thank for that. What had made
him change his mind after he had been so adamant?
She learned that he had met a Christian who told him about Jesus. Curious, she
asked him what he knew about Jesus. He explained that Jesus would not have
wanted him to force her into doing something against her will. Then, he gave
the Gospel of John booklet the man had given him. After everyone else had
gone to bed, she read stayed up to read the Gospel.
As Abayomi read how Jesus rescued the woman caught in adultery from
being stoned to death, she realized that she too had been rescued from a
terrible fate. She felt the tears spill down her cheeks and sliding off the
bed , she knelt on the floor. “Thank You, Jesus,” she prayed. She decided right
there and then to give her heart to One who had seen her plight and had come
to her aid.
Abayomi continued with her education and is currently in medical school. She
is also encouraging other girls to say no to child marriage. And her parents have
changed their views of forced marriage. They believe that she should have the
right to choose her own husband and to marry when she is ready.