Lucretia Torva, Theresa, acrylic on canvas, 36"x48", 2019, $2,900
Theresa Kachindamoto, b. ? (She is in her 60’s)
Theresa Kachindamoto is known as the “terminator” of child marriages and is the Paramount Chief of the Dedza District of Malawi. In 16 years of her reign, she has rescued almost 3,500 child brides and helped them to restart their education. Her successful effort of making Malawi’s parliament to pass a bill in 2015 setting the minimum age for both sexes at 18, gained her lots of international recognition.
Malawi is considered as one of the world's poorest places, 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 was not deterred in her mission to give back the lives of girls. My eyes watered reading about her. I remember being an adolescent and cannot imagine having to be married off.
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 character 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.