Underwear donations for Tanzanian young girls rescued from sex trafficking and child marriage April 2, 2020 13:48

For every MADI item you purchase from now until Sunday at midnight, we will donate a pair of urgently-requested new bamboo underwear to young girls living in Tanzania. We're SO excited to announce a brand new partnership with M.A.R.B.L.E - a non-profit home for young girls in Tanzania who were rescued out of sex trafficking, child marriage and other circumstances leading them to seek shelter and the comfort of a loving home.


To understand the heart and HUGE impact that this organization is making, we thought it would be best that you hear from the founder herself. We highly suggest you read the whole thing...Get ready for goosebumps and tears though!
 
Guest blog post written by M.A.R.B.L.E founder, Paeten Denning.


My name is Paeten Denning and I am the founder and Board President of M.A.R.B.L.E. 

The name M.A.R.B.L.E stands for “Miracles Are Real Because Love Exists”. This name was created in the early 2000’s when I moved away from my grandparents in Nevada, Missouri. Every time I would visit my grandmother I would hide marbles and tell her that every time she found one it was my way of saying “I love you”. Almost twenty years since this tradition began and every time I return to my grandmother’s home I still hides some marbles.


Marble is a 501c3 tax deductible non-profit that works in East Africa. Our mission is to help educate, employ, and empower young girls, but before I get too far into Marble’s mission I want to tell you all a little bit about myself and how Marble came about.
I am an attorney in Kansas City. I graduated from the University of Kansas in 2016 and then graduated from KU’s law school in 2019. During my undergraduate studies, I studied Kiswahili, an East African language. In 2013 I was awarded a Fulbright hays scholarship which allowed me to travel to Tanzania to study Kiswahili and women’s rights. I instantly fell in love with Tanzania. I loved the culture, the language, the pace, and the people. 


While studying I spent time talking to business women, female politicians, female attorneys, and other women about some of the issues women face in East Africa. It was during this trip that I became extremely interested in women’s rights issues in East Africa. So after returning to KU I continued to study Kiswahili and Social Welfare.
Fast forward to 2017, I had just finished my first year of law school, and that love of East Africa and my study of women’s rights once again drew me back to Tanzania. So during the summer of 2017, I did an internship at the Tanzanian Women Lawyers Association (TAWLA). During this time, I saw girl after girl coming in asking for legal advice about how she could go to school, how she could fight getting kicked out of her home, or how she could get a divorce. After our third or forth intake, I finally asked one of the other female attorneys why there were so many young girls getting kicked out of schools and their homes. Neema Ahmed, an attorney at TAWLA, informed me about the laws in Tanzania. 
In 2017, it was announced by Tanzanian President John Magufuli that no pregnant girl would be allowed to study in a school, nor readmitted after giving birth. President Magafuli stated that: "As long as I am president no pregnant student shall be allowed to return to school. After getting pregnant, you are done." President Magafuli has justified his view by stating "After calculating a few math’s sums she'd be asking the teacher in the classroom, 'Let me go out and breastfeed my crying baby.'" Headteachers who fail to comply with the orders will be fired, according to the President.


In March of 2018, the Tanzanian government also began arresting young girls who were pregnant. Not only are they kicked out of school, but they are not permitted to return. Any head master who goes against this law will be fired, so the schools are quick to kick out girls. Even some that aren’t pregnant. 


While working at TAWLA there was one story that I could not shake, where I really began to see the injustice of this law. It was about my second week interning at TAWLA when I helped do an intake of a 12-year-old girl. She was asking us for a divorce from her 42-year-old husband who had just gotten her pregnant. Her school did not know yet and she knew she would be expelled so she was coming to us to not only get her out of her marriage, but also help her find some place to go. She had no options. No family. No money. No education. Nothing. And while we were able to help her get out of the marriage and report the child marriage to the police, this was all we could do. We did not provide her with a place to sleep. With money. With a family. With an education. It felt like we gave her nothing.


The next couple of weeks I spent time with the women at TAWLA and we brainstormed how we could help. It was during this time that we realized there needed to be a place, a home, for young girls to go to. Thus Marble was born.


Marble is a home for young girls in Tanzania who have been kicked out of school, homes, turned away, and have no support. I would like to tell you that the 12-year old’s story was a unique story, but it is not. 
According to government data, the number of pregnancies in girls between 15-19 has continued to rise. In 2016 there were 69,000 teen pregnancies in Tanzania. In 2018 it was reported that about 22 percent of girls aged 15-19 have given birth, with the figure rising to 45 percent in some areas of the country.


Most of these young women are victims of sex trafficking, rape, or child marriage. The child marriage rate is more than 35 per cent nationally, and is at its highest, at 59 per cent in rural areas of the country.
Our organization is aimed at providing a home for these girls to go to for shelter and support. Marble will provide housing to 10-14 girls at a time and has partnered with a local vocational school, the Faraja Center, to provide vocational training as well. While living at Marble each girl will have access to food and shelter, vocational training, health care, case management, employment opportunities, and mentorship. Marble will be a home and a family to theses girls. 


Marble is modeled after a group home in Kansas (O’Connnell Youth Ranch) with a family focus. The director, a Tanzanian woman, will live in with the girls. Every night the girls will cook and eat dinner together. The girls will participate in group activities and chores. Each girl will go through an intake process so that they can receive care catered to their specific needs. 


Our hope is to open the house by August. In order to do this we need to raise about $50,000 before then. Right now, we have a campaign with 100 Extraordinary Women, https://100extraordinarywomen.com/m-a-r-b-l-e/ to raise $100,000 in 2020. We are at about 22% of our goal right now. 


Most, if not all of our girls, have absolutely nothing when they come into the care of Marble. This includes undergarments. This collaboration with Madi Apparel not only provides our girls with undergarments, but this is the first item they will have that is truly their own. For a lot of these girls it is uncomfortable and shameful to talk about undergarments, so Madi Apparel provides them confidence and security. 
Another thing this collaboration provides is love and mentorship. Madi Apparel allows our girls to see that women can be successful. That women can be business owners, and that women will always support other women. Madi Apparel is also hiding a marble for our girls by showing them that "miracles are real because love exists."
 

Meet a few beauties living in the M.A.R.B.L.E home:


This beautiful young girl had never been to school before coming to the Faraja Center, (marble's partner school in Tanzania), because she was sex trafficked at such a young age. She was sold into trafficking by her mother many years ago but does not remember or know any of her family now.

This sweet little girl was abused so badly by her family that finally the neighbors took her and brought her into the Faraja Center (M.A.R.B.L.E's partner vocational school) because she had no where else to go.


Pictured is a 16-year-old who's parents forced her into a child marriage. When the man saw her for the first time, he decided he did not like her, but went along with the marriage anyway. Once she became pregnant he left her and she came to the center because she had no where else to go. Her handsome son is 7 months old :).