KOIDU, Sierra Leone (AP) — The man first caught a glimpse of Marie Kamara as she ran with her friends past his house near the village primary school. Soon after, he proposed to the fifth-grader.
“I’m going to school now. I don’t want to get married and stay in the house,” she told him.
But the pressures of a pandemic on this remote corner of Sierra Leone were greater than the wishes of a schoolgirl. Nearby mining operations had slowed with the global economy. Business fell off at her stepfather’s tailoring shop. The family needed money.
Her suitor was a poor miner in his mid-20s, but his parents could provide rice for Marie’s four sisters and access to a watering hole. They could pay cash.
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