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My name is Myriam, I am 12 years old, and this is my story.

When I was younger, as expected in my community, I was arranged to be married. I was desperate to escape this fate and begged my mother to help me flee this forced lifestyle. She agreed to aid me in running away. But this path was the beginning of another nightmare. I was losing any support I did have, and leaving behind all forms of security I previously possessed. 

In this journey, I felt vulnerable and easily fell into the hands of human traffickers. I suffered greatly due to their exploitation. One day, I met a sister from Talitha Kum in Burkina Faso. I shared with her my pain and loneliness. I felt like she could see into my heart and understand my life. She cared for me and showed me love, compassion, and the possibility of a new life.

I was able to escape from the traffickers. But now, there was support and security waiting for me on the outside in the form of the Talitha Kum sisters who welcomed me into their home and continued to care for me. The sisters provided me with psychological and spiritual support to help me heal. They enrolled me in a sewing course and entrusted me into the care of a wonderful family who continues to accompany and support me. 

Now, I have continued my technical training and have been able to finish the school year with serenity. 

Myriam’s story shows us that forced child marriages are still prevalent in today’s world. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the likelihood of child brides, increasing it exponentially. UNICEF (the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund) projects there to be 10 million more girls at risk of becoming child brides over the next decade as a result of the pandemic.

(UNICEF, “Child marriage”, 2021)