The Students With Dreams year has started with style. We have just graduated our biggest ever cohort of dreamers. Our model has been piloted in Secondary Schools with support from the British Council, and we collaborated with UN Women on an event that celebrated young activists - including our dreamers! That’s before even mentioning the exciting projects and interventions of our Dreamers - breaking down taboos about mental health, condom use and more.
Students With Dreams graduation on 14th April showcased the work our thirty-eight Dreamers have been doing on their projects. Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Mr. Justin Saidi, attended as Guest of Honour, and we were thrilled to gain endorsement for the project from the top level of Government.
“I would like to sincerely thank ArtGlo for coming up with SWD programme. Basically, if we are to develop as a nation, we need to make use of the energy and potential that these young people have” Mr. Saidi commented in his keynote address.
In January and February, we collaborated with British Council to pilot SWD in secondary schools in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe, as a concluding activity of 2017’s Festival of Ideas. The project combined our current SWD model and a Human-Centered Design approach, and focused on issues of women's rights, gender-based violence, and sexual harassment; which were raised as key issues during the Festival of Ideas. Nineteen students from three schools in the high-density areas of Kawale and Biwi engaged in a process of training, community research, expert input, and group mentorship to develop and implement their own small projects addressing these issues in their local context.
Sarah, from SOS Secondary school was inspired to focus on the issue of forced marriage when she heard the story of a girl, Chikondi (not her real name), a 14 year-old who was forced to marry a man twice her age and drop out of school.
"I have always believed in equality. I have always believed in the saying that when you educate a girl child, you have educated the nation. I felt I needed to do something to assist Chikondi. Luckily enough, I was mentored and supported by Art and Global Health Center Africa and British Council Malawi on gender-based violence, sexual harassment and women’s rights. I then thought of briefing my friends about Chikondi’s situation. We then all agreed to organise a mini campaign through performances to engage the people of Chitanjira village on the evils of forced marriages. We had a very successful campaign and am happy that Chikondi is now back to school at Namisasa primary school and that her forced marriage has been nullified. It is always good as a young person to have positive impact in the lives of other young people,” said Sarah
In March we were a lead partner a UN Women event to commemorate International Women's Day at Chancellor College. Two of our SWD projects (GRIP and EDOMA) got to showcase the work that they do in advocacy for girl empowerment and education. GRIP- a project that teaches young girls skill that help them become economically empowered and independent- used drama to show the things young girls go through in society. EDOMA, a project working with mother groups in rural Domasi to support and enroll school dropouts back to school, also performed a theatre piece to depict how they became inspired to implement the idea behind their project and how that has affected them personally.
Dreamer project highlights for the past few months:
Thandizo Aid (Chancellor College): This project is breaking down taboos around mental health. They held the first ever mental health awareness week on campus. In collaboration with the Psychology department they set up a display which had flyers on mental health awareness and a survey on mental health to learn more about student's knowledge and attitudes. They handed out ribbons which flooded campus as students showed their support. The week concluded with an Open Mic event on mental health in collaboration with Chanco Writer's Workshop. Thandizo Aid has also been referring students to group counseling sessions.
Art of War (DOMASI College of Education): promotes Sexual and Reproductive Health amongst youth, and breaks down stigma around condom use by developing both a film and social media content tacking the issues. They have released the trailer for their film called “Under the Mango Tree”. Shooting has now been completed and we are eagerly awaiting the full release.
In the coming months the SWD cycle begins again. With the reputation of the programme growing year-by-year, now bolstered by an active alumni community, we can’t wait to see what exciting new projects the next twelve months has in store.