Danai Ruze is the only daughter in a family of three in a small town in Zimbabwe called Murehwa, which is 75 kilometers northeast from the capital, Harare. During Form 3 (Grade 11), she fell pregnant by a boy she had madly fallen in love with.
Like in many families in her community, she was disowned and had to move away from her family home to stay with the father of her baby – who was 24 years old at the time – and his family.
When asked about how she felt when she discovered she was pregnant, Danai said she was worried.
“At first it stressed me so much because l was pregnant,” Danai told The Weight She Carries. “l was thinking ‘who is going to buy the preparation [items]?’”
She went on to say that she was forced to adjust to a role she was unprepared for.
“When l was there, life was so hard because l was so young. l didn’t know what a bride ought to do, but my in-laws were very good and treated me well,” she said. “My then-husband was not working so he communicated his intention to go to South Africa to look for a job and greener pastures.”
Hoping for the best, Danai bid him farewell and off he went.
Danai said she lost all contact with him as he did not even bother to call. Still pregnant, Danai remained with her in-laws. Everything changed when she fell sick and her in-laws did not have money for the hospital and the only option was to contact her family. Fortunately, they were willing to help.
“My mum sent me money to go back home so as to receive medical attention. When l went to my parents’ house, l didn’t go back to my in-laws. l gave birth [to] a baby girl and now she is turning 7 this year,” she said.
Danai’s child lives with her in-laws whom she still has a good relationship with.
She had the opportunity to attend the Zambia for the Girls summit on ending child marriage. There, she found encouragement that even if you were married at a tender age, you can go back to school to fulfill your dreams.
“[Being] single doesn’t mean the end of your life. There is a lot to do in life and families shouldn’t discriminate [against single mothers]. They should give them another chance,” she said.
She went on to gain a sponsorship by Rozaria Memorial Trust to pursue cutting and designing. She is now doing TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) where she is learning to make bags and dishwashing liquid.