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International Day of the Girl: Jediva’s story

10 Oct 2019Empowering People
3 minute read

Girls across the world can face huge obstacles when it comes to getting an education – and Jediva’s story is all too common. Find out how one 15 year old girl overcame abduction, trafficking, forced marriage and violence to save herself and her future.

At 15 years old, Jediva was kidnapped in South Sudan and taken hundreds of miles away by her captor to be his ‘19 year-old wife’ in Kenya.

“I was abducted by a man when I was fifteen years old,” says Jediva. “I went to buy the candle from this man’s shop. Immediately, he closed the door, closed me inside.”

“What does this world really expect from a girl child?” – Jediva

“I started shouting. I shouted, I shouted. I told him, ‘Please leave me alone!’”

“He told me, ‘Try to shout. I will kill you. You will be my wife’”.


Fighting for an education

Too terrified to eat or speak, Jediva lived as a slave for her captor and his sister, under the daily threat of being killed if she told anyone who she really was. She asked to go to school, but he told her that she was there to be his wife, not to learn.

Desperate to educate herself, she sold her food rations to buy books. When her captor found out, he beat her, saying he would let her “die here as a dog”.

After seven months, she managed to get out of the house and found a girl who helped her to the police station.

A dental investigation revealed she was still only 15 – not the 19-year-old wife that her captor insisted she was.

jediva 2-1900x1267 0

Picture credit: Sala Lewis/Vodafone Foundation

A safe haven

Jediva was taken to a safe haven, and now attends school where she uses tablets as part of the Vodafone Foundation Instant Network Schools programme, accessing the internet for the first time.

The first thing she did was to look up a video of an active volcano, which she had never seen before.

Tablet-based learning has also helped her improve her academic performance.

“At first I was not performing so well, but since they brought these tablets I can now see my performance is okay,” she says.

“When I came to this school, I got a [score of] 233. Now I have a 325. This is all because of tablets. The tablet is what makes me work hard”.

A keen student who loves learning, she studies science and English in lessons and online every day, and hopes to be a lawyer. Jediva says she wants to help other people with experiences like hers.

jediva 3-1900x1267 0

Picture credit: Sala Lewis/Vodafone Foundation

Shining like success

“Education is key. It’s everything in my life. If I work hard, if I finish my education, in the future maybe I will have a family, and then it will help me and my family, my children,” says Jediva.

“If girls would have access to education, the world would shine just like success. Everybody may respect girls, even men. All of them may respect girls”.

Reflecting on her experience, and the many questions she has about why girls can be treated this way, she wrote a poem:


What does this world really expect from a girl child?

By Jediva

When I go to school to acquire knowledge,

they say girls were born to be married

and do their kitchen work.

When I pass my exams,

they say I have copied from others.

When I fail,

they say, “Look at this stupid wasting our money”.

When I wear a long dress,

they say, “Look at that unfashionable [girl]”.

When I wear a short one,

they say, “Look at this prostitute”.

When I walk with my brother,

they say he is my boy lover.

When I walk alone,

they say, “Even virgins have time for men”.

When I grow fat,

they say I’m pregnant.

When I grown thin,

they say I’m HIV positive.

Please, please tell me,

“What does this world really expect from a girl child?”

  • Africa
  • Everyone.connected
  • Empowering People
  • Vodafone Foundation

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