Rilia's Story

As the missionaries arrived home, they were surprised to find a cute little 12 year old girl at their house. One of their workers explained that she was running from her brothers and needed a safe place to stay for a few days. The missionaries agreed to let her stay after they heard Rilia’s story.

Rilia was young when her parents died leaving her and her 2 older brothers orphaned. They moved in with their sickly grandmother who lived by meager means. As time passed the brothers reached marrying age and they lacked any family resource for paying a dowry (bride price). Instead of earning money and saving for marriage, they chose what they thought was a quicker and better option which was to sell their sister off in marriage. Rilia would bring a nice bride price if they sold her to the right man, and they could then use that money themselves to pay dowry for their own brides.

The brothers found a man who liked Rilia and agreed to take her as his wife. They discussed and struck a deal with him and the dowry was arranged. They knew their grandmother and Rilia would never agree to such an arrangement so they would have to do this against their will. They schemed up a plan to kidnap her. Their plan was to recruit help and on a certain day when Rilia had gone to fetch water from a nearby stream, they would kidnap her and deliver over for the marriage.

Fortunately, the grandmother heard about their plan before it happened. She stayed awake all night wondering what she could do to save Rilia and her future. She decided that she needed to send her away from her brothers to the city where an aunt lived. She knew she had to act quickly, so she put Rilia on a bus that next day headed by herself to a place she had never been before. The grandmother knew that the aunt was living with a missionary family and this could perhaps offer Rilia more refuge from her brothers’ despicable plan. The missionaries would hopefully agree to let her stay.

The missionary family did agree and they worked together with the aunt to teach Rilia to read and write in English, and within 6 months she was accepted into a local English speaking school as a Grade 3 student. SMI’s School Helps Program was also able to assist financially with the needed school fees and Rilia promised to work very hard.

Five years later Rilia is in Grade 7 and she and her aunt are still staying with the missionaries who have been pleased to see Rilia’s excellent progress in school and to watch her become a well-adjusted teenager. The missionaries speak fondly of Rilia . . . “Rilia has loved school and has been consistently responsible throughout these years even though she has had to face many challenges. She is so grateful and full of joy, it has been our pleasure to be able to help her make the most of her life and to encourage her through primary school. Hopefully she will be able to continue learning well through secondary school and her future will remain a bright one, and one of her own choosing.”