Mariatu lives in the Monkey Bush community of Waterloo. Education is not free in Sierra Leone; families must pay for tuition, uniforms, school supplies, and other school fees. With parents struggling to provide for their families, this expense is many times not possible.
Typically, those who can afford to send their children to school will choose to send only their sons. Girls will be left at home to tend to daily chores and their younger siblings while parents work.
This lack of education and supervision leads girls just entering into adolescence very vulnerable to teenage pregnancy. For girls who have not been given access to education, they are often left with no option but to marry as early as 16 years of age, so they can be financially supported by their husband.
Mariatu's father passed away from an illness when she was 7. She lives with her mother who is able to do small trading for their daily survival. Mariatu is one of 4 children, and her mother struggles to provide for them as a newly single parent.
Mariatu’s mother works very hard to send her children to school, but often she does not have enough to pay the balance in full and Mariatu is asked out of school until the balance is paid. Mariatu has completed Class 2, but has not been able to learn consistently due to sitting out of school for extended periods.