“Do you first want to get married then go to school?”- Rachael
Rachael Akuach Lazarus is woman of the month at CREW (Crown The Woman). She is the true definition of this year’s Women’s Day theme “be bold for change” from her courageous decision to go back to high school after ten years of marriage.
We met Rachael at Promised Land Secondary School where CREW (Crown The Woman) was conducting a Mentorship Program. During one of our mentorship sessions, that focused on abstinence and school before marriage, Rachael sat quietly and patiently listening till the end of the program then she stood up to narrate her story. Rachael is 30 years old and has an 8 year old daughter. She has been married for close to 10 years and will be marking her 10 year marriage anniversary 3 months from now. She grew up in a Refugee Camp in Kakuma in Kenya and like many other young South Sudanese girls, she had no choice but to succumb to early marriage due to circumstances beyond her control. Life in the Refugee Camp was characterised by circumstances that include inter alia poverty, death of parents or guardians and little or no guidance and support. Nothing was left but marriage for her.
Years later, when she saw her old friends with whom she was in primary school live prosperous independent lives with university degrees and good jobs; while the only title she held was “Mom and Housewife”; she made a decision to go back to school to make something of herself as well as be a source of inspiration not only to her daughter but also for young girls all over. Although Rachael confirms that she is happily married and that her husband is supportive, she doesn’t feel fulfilled because she craves an education and a career.
She decided to resume school in 2016 and is now in Senior Two. Rachael continues to encourage the other girls to remain focused and finish school instead of rushing into marriage. she is determined to push through to University in-spite of all the challenges that she is facing such as limited scholastics like reading materials.
Rachael’s story describes the situation so many young South Sudanese girls are in. Majority are robbed of the opportunity to go to school by being forced into marriage at an early age which puts an end to their chances of independence and creates a dependency syndrome; a disease that’s eating into the economy of the youngest nation.
Crown The Woman-South Sudan continues to call upon all partners to play their roles by ensuring that girls are given the chance and the encouragement to pursue an education. We also plead that those who are married or become mothers at an early age, be given a second chance to go back to school. It’s never too late to fulfil your dream