AGE Africa’s 5th annual All-Scholars Retreat in July brought together 88 secondary school students from throughout Malawi’s Southern Districts for a celebration of their achievements and opportunity to learn. The theme this year was: SHE Empowered! – Promoting Safety, Health, and Education for the Girl. The scholars hailed from all 22 of AGE Africa’s partner schools, and they came together in Blantyre for a week of education and fun!
The first day focused on issues of sexual and reproductive health and began with a talk and Q&A session by general practitioner, T. Bonyonga. The physician answered the girls’ practical questions and concerns on the issues they confront in their daily lives, ranging from hygiene to HIV/AIDS.
The afternoon invited local activist, Mphatso Jumbe, who spoke to the scholars about what it means to be a girl. She encouraged the scholars to discuss their responsibilities as girls and the importance of taking care of themselves in a healthy and responsible way. This was followed by a Malawian movie night, which touched on many of the themes of the conference, including issues of school dropout, gender-based violence, and sexual and reproductive health.
The second day of the retreat centered on gender-based violence. A local guest speaker took the girls through their rights and privileges, which protect them from gender-based and sexual violence under Malawian law. She also highlighted the importance of talking to others to help tackle the stigma that women often face once they have been affected by gender-based violence.
The afternoon saw the return of Mphatso Jumbe, who continued her talk from the previous day. She helped dissect scholars’ assumptions about gender roles, as well as how these roles create an environment for gender-based violence to occur.
The third and final day of the All-Scholars Retreat focused on education and exposed the girls to a diverse lineup of speakers, who represented a variety of different professions. A doctor, plumber, electrician, pharmacist, and architect all came in to share their journeys, as well as information about their field. Together, they showed the scholars that there are multiple paths to becoming successful and gaining independence!
At AGE Africa, we know that for the most marginalized young women living in rural Malawi, a scholarship alone is not enough to ensure academic success or secondary school completion. That is why AGE Africa created CHATS – an extracurricular program designed to meet the unique needs of poor rural girls in Malawi. CHATS, or Creating Healthy Approaches to Success, is an innovative empowerment curriculum designed to develop critical knowledge and skills, as well as build self-confidence and agency.
In addition to delivering CHATS as after school clubs for 655 girls in 2015, AGE Africa introduced the CHATS Alumnae Mentor Program. In 2016, this program will train a cohort of recent secondary school graduates in Malawi to serve as mentors and coaches for our CHATS Girls’ Clubs. This fall, the Alumnae Mentors will serve in a pilot group of six schools as advisors and coaches to CHATS Clubs, as well as sexual and reproductive health peer-educators.
Mercy is from Makanjira Village in Malawi's Zomba District. As a member of AGE Africa's first cohort of Alumnae Mentors, Mercy will serve as a leader at Nsala Community Day Secondary School. There, she hopes to encourage girls to stay in school and to come to CHATS sessions. As one of eight children, Mercy has overcome forced marriage and has dropped out of school before, in order to take care of her family. Today, as a high school graduate, Mercy dreams of becoming a secondary school teacher to further impact the lives of young girls. Keep up the great work, Mercy!
To learn more, please visit our website at www.ageafrica.org.
It’s that time of year again – we are kicking off AGE Africa’s biggest annual fundraising event, the 2016 Tri for Malawi Team Challenge!
Each year, AGE Africa’s friends and supporters compete in the Nation’s Triathlon in downtown Washington, D.C, alongside the Ambassador from the Republic of Malawi to the United States, H.E. Necton D. Mhura, and the Embassy of Malawi. Together, the athletes swim, run, and bike in honor of AGE Africa’s scholars who walk a triathlon-sized distance every week just to attend school!
This year, on Sunday, September 11th, Tri for Malawi team members will compete to raise a total of $150,000 to support 200 scholarships for some of Malawi’s most disadvantaged young women. These comprehensive scholarships alleviate the barriers to education that many young women in Malawi face. In addition to covering the cost of school fees, they also cover the indirect costs of an education, which can often be more than double the cost of tuition. This includes the cost of uniforms, school supplies, personal hygiene products, and transportation to and from school. Most importantly, AGE Africa’s scholarships are making a big difference in the lives of their recipients. 88% of AGE Africa’s scholarship students will complete all four years of secondary school, compared to less than 6% of girls nationwide!
Join us in transforming the lives of these young women by signing up for the 2016 Tri for Malawi here! For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at www.ageafrica.org.
In 2016, AGE Africa will launch the Xanthe Ackerman Workplace Experience (WE) Project—an exciting new program that will support our alumnae with marketable job skills as they transition from secondary school to the workplace. In the spirit of AGE Africa’s founder, Xanthe Ackerman, and her never-ending commitment to improving outcomes for AGE Africa’s students, the WE Project seeks to enhance girls’ success through career exposure, workplace mentorship, and job training in a variety of sectors.
Immediately, the WE Project will provide rural internships and hands-on experience for recent alumnae in AGE Africa’s field offices. In the medium-term AGE Africa will recruit private sector partners to host internships in a variety of skilled and vocational professions. The problem of unemployment in Malawi is exacerbated by lack of job seeking skills and formal work experience—particularly amongst rural girls. Even educated young women find transitioning into the job market daunting at best without opportunities, skills and role models to guide them. The Xanthe Ackerman WE Project seeks to fill that gap for AGE Africa’s alumnae in 2016 and beyond!
It has been an incredible weekend for AGE Africa! On Sunday September 13th, over 50 athletes came together to compete in the 2015 Tri for Malawi Team Challenge, a celebration to honor our AGE Scholars who walk a triathlon sized distance every week just to get to school. Together they raised over $120,000 and counting for 190 girls' comprehensive secondary school scholarships! We were honored to be joined by three very important athletes and proud of their commitment to girls’ education: H.E. Ambassador from the Republic of Malawi to the United States, Necton D. Mhuru, H.E. Ambassador from the Republic of Botswana to the United States, David Newman, and H.E Ambassador from Zimbabwe to the United States, Ammon Machingambi Mutembwa. We were honored to have the Ambassadors Tri with us and bring awareness to our movement to ensure universal education for all!
The scholarships the Tri for Malawi Team challenge provides allows for AGE Scholars to attend school without worry about making payments or sacrificing their daily needs for books and materials. When girls are able to focus on school, they are able to unleash their potential to achieve in secondary school. When they graduate, they make huge changes in their communities and the lives of all around them. With a graduation rate of 90%, AGE Africa will be seeing many more graduates starting business, working in their communities, and going to college. We want to thank each and every athlete and donor who showed their support and solidarity for our AGE Scholars this summer! We cannot wait to see you all again for the 2016 Tri for Malawi Team Challenge!
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