On the 30th May we celebrated Mother’s day in Madagascar. Becoming a mother is one of the most beautiful but also very intense and challenging experience for a woman. What is really to be a woman and a mother in the Red Island?
Madagascar has one of the highest rate of teenage marriages in the world. Official age for a legal act of marriage is 18 but traditional customs does not respect it. In some parts of the country even upto 69% girls marry before they are 18 years old.
Getting married and becoming pregnant early leads to termination of their education, leaving them without any profession.
Often the girls who marry so early come from very poor background and it is a cultural issue to prove the fertility of the girl before she marries so the parents encourage early sexual iniciation of their daughters.
Malnutrtion, illiteracy, no electricity and no running water, living under a poverty line for less than 2USD a day are only some examples of a struggle of a Malagasy mom and her children.
Unfortunately many people have no access to a health care which is 100 % paid and it also offers a very poor service. Majority of people can not afford a doctor’s visit or buying medicines, which prices are similar to the European ones. Limited or no access to hospitals results in a high rate of mothers as well as children mortality.
Typical Malagasy family consists from four to ten children. Children are seen as some kind of investment for the future of the parents. They are expected to help the parents financially in their older age. In real life a father often finds a job far away from home and eventually he disappears for months, years or sometimes for good, leaving a big family behind with no income. Single mothers find it extremelly difficult epecially when a woman has no qualification to find any job.
Upto 1/3 of Malagasy women experienced some sort of abuse either physical, psychological or sexual one. Domestic violence is very common and it is not a taboo here. Madagascar is mostly a traditional patriarchal society where women and girls are more vulnerable to human rights violations.
Officially according to some statistics 15% of gilrs age 10 to 14 are victims of a physical abuse. Most likely those numbers are much higer as reporting to approporiate authorities remains very low.
Unfortunatelly there are not many places where young mothers can receive help. Luckily there is a Girls Centre called Akany Avoko Faravohitra (AAF) which offers not only a food and a shelter but also lots of psychological and mental support. Those girls have difficult stories and often very terrifying experiences behind them. It takes lots of time to get rid of a traumatic memories and yet they need to look after their children often being still like children themselves.
For the occasion of Mother’s Day we wanted to make their day even more special as they are at the beggining of the motherhood journey which is often very tough.
Seven very young mothers from the girls centre AAF received a gift sponsored by the facebook supporters to make that day even more special for them at the beggining of their motherhood journey. They all received a set of toilleteries and a braclet. For some of them it was the first present that they have ever received. They loved it.