At 20, Aman is already a mother of five. She got married two years ago to 43-year-old Jacob.
Jacob’s first wife, who is the biological mother of the children, died during childbirth.
“When my father told me he had accepted 25 cattle for my dowry, I could not say no,” said Aman.
Aman lives with her family in a village in South Sudan’s Lakes State, where Plan International is helping the community survive the current food crisis with regular food distributions.
“I knew my family’s pride depended on me marrying. We were suffering from severe food shortages at home and the cattle meant my father could sell them to buy food for my brothers and sisters.
“I struggled in the first months to feed my children. The lack of food made it very difficult for me to satisfy their hunger. I gave them as much as possible of what I managed to scrounge from the wild.
“Jacob caught fish for us and also resorted to bringing water lilies for me to cook for the children.
“I had nowhere to turn; my parents couldn’t help us. The children dropped out of school; they could not concentrate on empty stomachs. The young ones would cry in the night with stomach cramps because of the hunger.
“In the past 6 months, Plan International has come to our rescue with its food assistance.
“All of us registered as beneficiaries, and monthly, each one of us gets maize, oil, lentils or beans, and salt.
“The amount we get is not enough to last my big family the entire month but it’s a start.
“The fish and lilies that Jacob brings, as well as the green leaves I sometimes gather from the forest, now just help to give us a little extra – they’re no longer our main source.
“Since we started receiving the food, our lives have improved. On a good day I serve my family two meals a day.
“We do not go to sleep hungry anymore.
“I even have time to bathe, rest, and sit with other young women of my age and talk about our marriages. Before the food assistance, this was not possible. I would spend all day struggling to find food.”