Asha didn’t see the purpose in going to school. She thought it was just a waste of time—so did her parents. Asha knew she’d likely be married soon after she turned 10, like many girls in her community. Her life thereafter would be devoted to household chores and taking care of her family. What was the point in learning to read and write if she would never use it?
‘Believed to Be a Burden’
Even though child marriages are, by and large, illegal, they still occur all around the globe. It is estimated that one-third of all women in developing nations were married before age 18, and one-third of those women were married before age 15. The multiple reasons behind this social issue are incredibly complex. Some parents feel they must give their children in marriage at a young age in order to protect them or so their child will be provided for when they can’t take care of them financially. In other places, parents may consider their daughters a burden, as was the case in Asha’s community.
“In their society, girls were not given consideration,” reported a Gospel for Asia-supported field correspondent. “They were believed to be a burden upon their parents. At the age of 10, they would get them married. Parents did not want them to study more, since they are going to be in someone else’s house after their marriage.”
Thankfully, Asha’s story doesn’t end in child marriage the way she thought it would. Through Gospel for Asia’s Bridge of Hope program, Asha found a brighter future.
Child’s Life Changes Course Through Bridge of Hope
Growing up, Asha and her younger brother faced many challenges. Though her father held a respectable job, he spent all of his earnings on alcohol. He fought with his wife and didn’t show care for his children. Many times Asha and her brother went to bed at night without any food in their stomachs. Although Asha’s parents sent her to the local public school, they never let her study when she got home. They asked her questions about her activities in class, but they had no desire to see her succeed.
That began to change when 8-year-old Asha enrolled in a local Bridge of Hope center. The staff gave her a daily nutritious meal, school supplies and hygiene items to help her thrive. They taught her how to read and write—two skills Asha had never valued before.
Finding an Eternal Hope
At the center, Asha also learned about Jesus. Curious to know more about Him, she started going to church with some of her friends. When her father found out about her activities, he was furious. But young Asha determined in her heart to continue going to church, despite the rebukes from her father, and even began telling her family about Jesus.
Over time, as Asha’s father took notice of the positive changes in his daughter and as the Good News took root in his heart, his perspective on Christ changed. He left his alcoholic ways behind and started caring for his children. Asha’s family began praying together in their home, and her parents decided to encourage Asha in her studies.
Today, Asha is on course to graduate high school. What’s more, her entire family has entrusted their hearts to Jesus.
Every Child Has a Story
Bridge of Hope helps children overcome a large variety of challenges. While not every child enrolled in Bridge of Hope faces the imminent threats and dangers of child marriage, it is a comfort to know at least one more child has been saved from this fate.
Every child enrolled in Bridge of Hope has a unique story. Ishayu was destined to be a fisherman, but today he is studying to be a surgeon. Check it out.