Mariama 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.
Mariama lives with her mother and father. Her mother is a hairdresser and her father provides public transport on a motorbike. Mariama is the oldest of three children, so her parents are able to start her in school each year, but Mariama is asked out when the balance is due. Her parents struggle to provide for their family, and they have times when there is not money to eat even once a day.
Mariama loves going to school, so she is very sad when she is asked out until the next payment can be made. She is currently in Class 2. Mariama would like to be a doctor when she grows up.