Empower 170 Malawian Girls to FINISH School

by Advancement of Girls' Education (AGE Africa)
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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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!

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Meet AGE Africa Mentor, Mercy!
Meet AGE Africa Mentor, Mercy!

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.

Inaugural Alumnae Mentors
Inaugural Alumnae Mentors
The 2015 Tri for Malawi Team Challenge!
The 2015 Tri for Malawi Team Challenge!

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 hereFor more information, please email triathlon@ageafrica.org or visit our website at www.ageafrica.org.

Grocery distribution in Nsondole!
Grocery distribution in Nsondole!

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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!

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Organization Information

Advancement of Girls' Education (AGE Africa)

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.ageafrica.org/​
Project Leader:
Conception Gaxiola
Director of Development
Washington, DC United States

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