I have heard of people’s grandparents having gotten married at 12, 13, or 14 years old, but I’ve never met someone in my generation marrying so young. Until now.
Meet Ana, a dedicated student at Instituto Estelar Bilingüe. She is 34 years old—my age—and has been married for 20 years. She has six kids and runs a successful nursery on the outskirts of Liberia. She recently decided to start learning English due to her large amount of English-speaking clientele.
Ana tells me her story one day before class, and my jaw drops. At nine years old, Ana dropped out of school and started working, cleaning people’s houses. Her husband’s family rescued her from an abusive mother who didn’t want her. She says that marriage was the only way out, and she doesn’t regret her life one bit.
She waited until 19 to have her first child, and she rightfully boasts that she has not followed her mother’s poor example. She is a good mother, and her life is full.
I am impressed by her optimism, but I must admit that I am thankful for never having been faced with such tough choices. While I was getting an education and traveling, Ana was having babies. Our paths have crossed here in Liberia, and I am certain we each have something to glean from our very different experiences.