(5 mins read)
Natsiraishe Maritsa and her students. Photo Credit: AP
Natsiraishe Maritsa is a 17-year old Zimbabwean teen who’s bravery is making history.
Natsiraishe is a Taekwondo enthusiast and has been since the age of five. Today, she uses her passion for Taekwondo to tackle the drug problem within the community by offering them other ways to occupy themselves and has meaningful discussions after class with students about the dangers of child marriages such as gender-based violence and Natsiraishe does all of this in the back of her parent’s house.
Though Zimbabwean law made it illegal for people under the age of 18 to be married in 2016, the practice is still very common across the country with 30% of young girls estimated to be in a child marriage according to the United Nations Children’s Fund. Child marriage often keeps young girls away from school and deepens poverty, and the rising economic challenges brought on by the pandemic have increased pressures on families to marry off their young daughters as a way to cope financially.
Natsiraishe hopes to change this and that her movement will make a difference in her community.
Although Taekwondo is not very popular in Zimbabwe, as natives typically prefer football, there are still pockets of professional and backyard training schools.
In spite of her limited resources, the dedicated teen is committed to her mission. Her once sparsely filled classes in Epworth close to the capital Harare now have children as young as four and some of Natsiraishe’s former schoolmates who are now married, lined up in the tiny yard to enthusiastically follow her instructions.
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