Real Girls, Real Stories
Sesuagno Mola • • Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, Africa
Building future leaders
Sesuagno Mola's life began like many girls in her community in the rural Amhara region of Ethiopia.
Married at age five, Sesuagno left her family’s home at a young age. She was not allowed to attend school and had her first child at age 14. Amhara is the largest region in Ethiopia and has among the highest rates of child marriage in the world. Close to half of all Amharan girls are married before their 15th birthday.
But life changed when the Girl Up-funded Berhane Hewan program came to her town. Berhane Hewan works to delay marriage and support adolescent girls in the rural Amhara region of Ethiopia. When Sesuagno first heard of the program, she assumed it was only for unmarried girls. But she was excited to hear that young girls who were married could also participate.
Sesuagno received permission from her husband’s family to join the program, but only because they cooked injera — the bread used in Ethiopian cooking — during the classes. The family reasoned she could sell the bread for extra income.
The program opened up a door to a new life for Sesuagno. In the program, she learned basic literacy, information about family planning, gardening skills, and instructions on how to improve her home. To reduce food contamination, Sesuagno built wooden shelves to keep her food off the ground. She also created a new style of stove that burns wood longer and emits smoke out of the back of the stove, instead of in her face, which would often make her “cough and cough.”
The program has also helped empower Sesuagno to take more ownership of her life. She said it was from the program that she learned that she could wait to have her next child. She beamed with pride when she said that she and her husband jointly decided to wait another five years before having their next child.
Learn more about Berhane Hewan at UNFoundation.org.