Mereso was 14 when she was forced into marriage with a man over 70. She was to become this man’s fifth wife. By 29 she was a mother of 5 children. It was not long into her marriage that her husband became violent. When she tried to flee the marriage to her family, they refused to take her back as her bride price had already been spent. This is when she fled to the city. YWCA came to Mereso’s assistance after this time offering counselling, legal advice and friendship which contributed to Mereso being able regain her self-confidence and to develop ways to economically support herself and her family. Mereso has since returned to her village and set up a YWCA branch in order to challenge local traditional practices, like forced marriage and create a community where girls’ SRHR are respected and young women can plan their futures.

Watch a video of Mereso speaking of her life experiences here