Mary’s Story


Mary was just 8 years old when her parents sent her away to live with a guardian. 

Like many families in the Niger Delta, living in abject poverty, Mary’s family were poor. There wasn’t enough money coming in to the household to be able to feed and clothe a growing child and in spite of their best efforts Mary was under nourished and hungry.

 The heartbreaking decision to send Mary to live with a guardian, where she would work as a maid, was made with Mary’s best interests in mind.

Her parents placed all of their trust in the guardian to ensure Mary would be provided for with the essentials that they couldn’t offer her  and of course, that she would be well cared for and protected.

The reality however couldn’t have been further from the truth. The guardian abused his position and shattered that trust when, for the next 7 years, Mary was subjected to a torrent of ongoing physical abuse; day after day, week after week.

Mary was afforded neither comfort or peace by the guardian, instead living in fear of when the next round of beatings would begin. The situation for Mary hit an all time low when, aged 15,  she was raped by a neighbour living close by.

 If it hadn’t been for our aid workers, at Basic Rights Counsel Initiative in Calabar, there’s no telling how Mary’s story may have ended.

But thanks to the generosity of our supporters, our aid workers were there. And having been informed about Mary’s situation they were able to remove her from the guardian’s house and place her, securely, in the Emergency Accommodation Shelter. Over the next few days Mary’s case was fully investigated and her parents, traced to a nearby village.


Unfortunately, the village was subject to a tirade of communal violence and, after everything that Mary had been through, it was decided that returning her to her parents was not in Mary’s best interests. Following consultation with Mary’s parents and seeking their agreement, a foster carer was found.  Mary is now living with her foster carer where she will be carefully monitored by the team at BRCI.


“Mary was subjected to a torrent of ongoing physical abuse, day after day, week after week”

— Basic Rights Counsel Initiative