Empower 170 Malawian Girls to FINISH School

by Advancing Girls' Education in Africa (AGE Africa)
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Empower 170 Malawian Girls to FINISH School
Empower 170 Malawian Girls to FINISH School
Empower 170 Malawian Girls to FINISH School
Empower 170 Malawian Girls to FINISH School
Empower 170 Malawian Girls to FINISH School
Empower 170 Malawian Girls to FINISH School
Empower 170 Malawian Girls to FINISH School
Empower 170 Malawian Girls to FINISH School
Empower 170 Malawian Girls to FINISH School
Empower 170 Malawian Girls to FINISH School
Empower 170 Malawian Girls to FINISH School
Empower 170 Malawian Girls to FINISH School
Empower 170 Malawian Girls to FINISH School
Empower 170 Malawian Girls to FINISH School
Empower 170 Malawian Girls to FINISH School
Empower 170 Malawian Girls to FINISH School
Empower 170 Malawian Girls to FINISH School
Empower 170 Malawian Girls to FINISH School
Empower 170 Malawian Girls to FINISH School
Empower 170 Malawian Girls to FINISH School
Empower 170 Malawian Girls to FINISH School
Empower 170 Malawian Girls to FINISH School
Empower 170 Malawian Girls to FINISH School

AGE Africa's CHATS girls' club has been growing and now has 2,100 girls participating in it. Creating Healthy Approaches to Success (CHATS) is a three year after school program that supports life, leadership, and entrepreneurship skills. Throughout the program, the participants cover critical topics, such as sexual and reproductive health, and gender and female rights. CHATS also covers self-advocacy skills and group facilitation, providing the girls with resources that they do not learn during the school day. The entrepreneurship focus of CHATS teaches girls fundamental skills to start and maintain a small business, as well as allows them to engage in the community with their own entreprenueral ventures.

Magret is an AGE Africa scholar and a CHATS participant. She explains that CHATS has helped her come to terms with her struggles, as they have given her the dream of becoming a member of parliament. "My attendance at CHATS, benefits me a lot through peer mentoring, leadership skills and also life skills. This club has helped me also to be a girl of combating gender barriers through having self-belief and assertiveness. In addition, CHATS has also helped me to be dedicated girl, hardworking and instilled me with leadership skills."

Dorah is a CHATS member who expressed that the CHATS club has been a pillar of her schooling and has helped her to get this far with school. "Through CHATS I have learnt how to study, at first I didn’t know I can make time table and create time for study at home but now I study. So to me time planning and time table CHATS have been one of the greatest lessons acquired in CHATS."

Shelter is an AGE Africa Scholar who was selected to Malawi University of Science and Technology, and she credits CHATS with having a role in how far she has come. "During CHATS we discussed many topics that had an impact on my life, there were so many things I didn’t know and wasn’t sure about that I learnt during CHATS. CHATS helped me a lot to reach this stage. I learnt to be confident in whatever I am doing, to know who I am and the importance of education. It made me work hard in class and here I am in college. Other than that I also learnt to stay away and say no to sexual relationships such that I turned down marriage/relationship proposals because I am one girl who knows what I want and what I need to do in order to achieve my goals. I am a role model in my community and the first person in my extended family to go to University."

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Esnart has a lighter moment with her friends
Esnart has a lighter moment with her friends

                                                         Meet Esnart

“Being a Nurse is what my heart desire,” said Esnart. Esnart is a 15-year-old girl who lives in Mayere Village T/A Kachenga in Balaka District. She lives with her Mother and Grandfather. Her father left the family when Esnart was just one and half years old. Esnart has two sisters and three brothers and out of the six, Esnart and her 5th born brother are the only children still at school. Her siblings left school while in primary school and got married. Fellow students and Teachers at Ulongwe CDSS describe Esnart as intelligent and well behaved. She is currently in form 3.

Life has been hard on Esnart’s mother to raise the children. She has managed to support her family by keeping livestock and farming. Two years ago, before Esnart’s uncle passed on, the family was being supported by him in some situations. Now, the whole responsibility is vested her mother both at home and school. To make things worse, Esnart’s Mother (who is the breadwinner) was diagnosed of cervical cancer in 2015 and early this year the Doctor has recommended her to stop doing hard work as her health continues to deteriorate. The sickness made mother make a decision that did not go well with Esnart.

“Since I am not healthy enough and the doctor has recommended me not to do more hard work. I, therefore, declare to send one child at a time to school, in this case, I will start with a boy. This means that Esnart must to wait until your brother completes his education" said Esnart’s mother. This did not sit well with Esnart and made her cry as the mother mentioned to be able to assist only one child at a time and mentioned of a boy so that Esnart can wait.

Esnart after realizing that her desire to become a nurse will not be fulfilled if she waits, then she made an effort to reach out to the AGE Africa Faculty Advisor, a teacher who supports AGE Africa programming in each school, to seek for help. The faculty advisor shared Esnart’s concerns with the bursary committee and other members of staff at her school. After thorough thought and knowing how intelligent Esnart is, the committee recommended her for a scholarship. Her form 2 class records has been outstanding. Esnart claimed position 2 in 1st term and position 1 in 2nd and 3rd terms.

When the faculty advisor shared this with the District Officer, an effort to visit her home was made where we were privileged to meet her mother, sister, and grandfather who explained to us what Esnart had already presented in her case. We were also concerned with the distance that Esnart covers each day when she goes and come back to school which was about 22 km round trip. In addition the area is hilly and in some places she passes through forests which also create more vulnerability to Esnart.

Proudly, Esnart is one of the recipients of an AGE Africa scholars and on her side, she promised to work extra hard so that she proves to the world that problems that she was facing will not be contributing factors to her failure to education.

Esnart at her home with her family
Esnart at her home with her family

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AGE Scholars with Chief Kachindamoto
AGE Scholars with Chief Kachindamoto

Last week, over 100 of AGE Africa’s CHATS Girls’ Club scholars, gathered in Blantyre, Malawi for our annual AGE Africa All-Scholars Retreat. This years, theme, “Leadership by Choice, not by Chance” focused on the accomplishments and the critical role of women in public office.  In a country, where half of the population is female, and only 16.7% of Malawi’s parliamentary seats are held by women, making every chance that rurally- based, underprivileged girls, get to interact with these leaders vitally important. Former First Lady of Malawi, Callista Mutharika, the Minister of Gender, Hon. Patricia Kaliati, and Chief Kachindamoto, a girls rights champion and other prominent female leaders spoke to the scholars, encouraging them to pursue leadership opportunities in their schools and communities.

AGE Africa’s scholarship and CHATS Girls’ Clubs programs aim to ensure that girls complete their education and develop the self-confidence, leadership and decision making skills necessary to influence their country’s legislative agenda.

To support our scholarship fund, we are proud to announce another edition of the Tri for Malawi Team Challenge! We are so excited to have H.E. Ambassador from Malawi to the United States, Edward Yakobe Sawerengera participating in support of AGE Africa once again.  Click the link to learn more about the Tri and visit our website to learn more about our important work in Malawi! 

Girls having fun at Retreat!
Girls having fun at Retreat!
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AGE Africa’s 10K A Day race is a fundraising initiative that supports disadvantaged and vulnerable young women at 24 public high schools in Malawi. Each day many of our scholars in Malawi walk the distance of a 10K to go to school. This year AGE Africa will honor our scholars by participating in the 38th Annual Capitol Hill Classic. This race will provides us with a unique opportunity to shed light on one of the daily challenges our scholars’ face just getting to school! We are excited to bring their stories to the local community in D.C. and simultaneously support local D.C. schools in providing after school activities. 

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Comedy/Drama performance
Comedy/Drama performance

On Saturday, November 5th 2016, AGE Africa, along with the Mangochi Government, UNICEF, and AFLIT+, celebrated the International Day of the Girl Child. Together, the stakeholders celebrated the power of girls in their communities and stressed the importance of educating girls to one thousand assembled community members.

AGE Africa was proud to have 12 scholars from local partner schools in attendance along with 4 of their faculty advisors and an AGE Alumna mentor. During the event, the scholars had an opportunity to ask questions of the guest of honor, the Honorable Lillian Patel, Member of Parliament. Four AGE Scholars asked the MP about the Malawian governments commitment to girls’ education. 

They questioned the guest of honor asking how the government would: provide role models for girls to keep them in rural schools, how the government was working to implement legislation to prevent child marriages, and what was being done to deter cultural issues which prevent girls from attending and finishing secondary school. AGE Africa is delighted that our scholars had this wonderful opportunity to engage with high-level officials and make their voices heard. Our program strives to give girls the confidence needed to stand up for themselves and their rights while acting as agents of change within their communities.

The ceremony featured local performers playing music, showing dramas, and preforming local dance. Interspersed, local women and leaders shared their stories showcasing the power of girls’ education and encouraging local community members to become allies of the girls in their localities. 

AGE Africa is proud to have been a part of the International Day of the Girl Child celebrations and is proud of our scholars for having the confidence to hold their elected officials accountable. This year AGE Africa will continue to support over 1,200 girls in order to help them stay in school, become community leaders, and act as agents of change in both their community and their nation.

International Day of the Girl Child Celebrations
International Day of the Girl Child Celebrations

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Organization Information

Advancing Girls' Education in Africa (AGE Africa)

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @AGEAfrica
Project Leader:
Conception Gaxiola
Director of Development
Washington, DC United States

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