Doreen was thirteen when she got married. Her husband was thirty years old.
Whilst she worked in the house, Doreen’s husband would go looking for work, doing odd jobs as a day labourer. Without a regular income, they often went hungry, and Doreen soon found that she was unable to afford basic needs; food, clothes, even shelter. If her husband were to decide not to go searching for work on a particular day, then Doreen would be resigned to a sleepless night on an empty stomach.
Soon after getting married and long before her body was ready, Doreen became pregnant. Her classmates pointed and whispered, and soon Doreen stopped going to school. From then on, Doreen spent her days sweeping, washing clothes, washing dishes, collecting cassava, collecting firewood, working in neighbouring fields and cooking for her husband in the evenings. Every morning as she was sweeping and doing chores, she would see her friends pass by in their uniforms on their way to school.
As her pregnancy grew, she was terrified. “I had no idea about childbirth. I was scared of having a baby because I could not manage to take care of a baby because I was very young. I’m still just a child.” When her labour pains started, Doreen didn’t know what was happening to her body. At thirteen years old, she went into a terrifying and painful labour, resulting in an emergency Caesarean section.