Theresa Kachindamoto

Theresa Kachindamoto is known as the “terminator” of child marriages and is the Paramount Chief of the Dedza District of Malawi. During the16 years of her reign, she has rescued almost 3,500 child brides and helped them to restart their education. She gained international recognition for successfully working with Malawi’s parliament to pass a bill in 2015 that set the minimum age for marriage for both sexes at 18.

Malawi is considered as one of the world’s poorest countries, ranking 160th out of 182 nations. Early marriage is more common in rural areas, where parents are eager to get girls out of the house to ease their financial burden. Theresa has not been deterred in her mission to protect the lives of girls.

She is described as a mild-mannered woman who zips around her farmhouse (packed with knick-knacks) and insists her guests eat a meal before any introductions, which presents a portrait at odds with her fearsome reputation of being Malawi’s top marriage terminator.

She is full of love for all the people that live modest lives in her district. That is why I pictured her smiling. Her compassion is what makes her tough and able to stand up to centuries old traditions.