Melvina 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.
Melvina lives with her mother and her younger sister. Her father abandoned the family because he could not provide for them.
Melvina’s mother is a caterer, but as a single mom, she is not able to completely provide for their basic needs and send them to school. When her mother raises the funds to enroll Melvina in school, it is not the full amount, and Melvina is asked out of school until her mother can pay more towards the balance.
Melvina has completed Class 2. She enjoys being in school, and she is very sad when the administration asks her out of school because of lack of payment.