During the past few months we have been working on getting our hub up with new developments and continued the campaign against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in technical Colleges.
We look back on Sylvester’s journey. He was a co-founder for the project Girl Rise in Potential (GRiP) which aimed at economically empowering young girls in rural Zomba. The project taught them practical skills such as baking and tailoring which they used to start small businesses to support themselves. They also focused on helping the girls to understand and act on their sexual reproductive health. The project was a success in helping several girls to start their own small initiatives. Sylvester is studying to be a nurse at Malawi College of Health Sciences in Zomba and has a passion for health and development work. This aligned well with his project and in 2018 he graduated from the programme.
Through feedback from the participants, Sylvester created short films that highlighted the project with a focus on its SHR and entrepreneurship aspects and how the project affected the girls. In 2018 one of these clips was recognised by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which awarded him a scholarship to attend the International Conference on Family Planning in Kigali. There he was a panellist and presented GRiP and its findings.
“I was really grateful”, he relates, “for this opportunity because it opened me up to networks that I would have never imagined being in. It also taught me a lot about SRH and where we are as a continent. People equally passionate about girl child rights as I am.”
In 2019 he attended the African Students and Youth Conference in Lusaka. He was further invited and attended the SADC work summit on Gender in Lilongwe Malawi. He presented the project to those in attendance and Sylvester was awarded a certificate by the Minister of Gender in the youth category. Several stakeholders expressed gratitude for the work being done and encouraged him to continue to pursue the project further.
“The programme has opened me up to opportunities to widen my skills in girl empowerment. It has helped me to reach dreams that I have had. I have reached many people I would have not reached myself. The youth need to be proactive. I used to look at myself and the only thing that I can do school and nothing else, but with SWD I was able to reach out to other opportunities.” – Sylvester.
All these opportunities helped him to grow his initial idea of the project and grow it even further, as now they have even more girls joining the project for the next phase. He was able to identify a further need in the area, that of a place for youth in the area to learn and study. The area is remote and students from the area have to travel far to attend school and find it difficult to study since no place exists nearby. He has begun plans to erect a learning centre in the area for the local children. He is working to make this idea come to life, getting all the right blueprint and staffing to run the centre. We are very proud to see all that Sylvester is doing and look forward to seeing where this latest idea goes.
Our refurbished hub continues to host creative events in Zomba. The vision for the space is to create an enabling environment for artists and social change activists to network, gain tangible skills, and attain access to an innovative space of learning, growth, and creativity.
The hub will serve as an artist lounge, offer space for arts-based approaches and events, and further help in the professional development of local youths. The creative director of the Hub is Dan who is an alumni of the SWD programme and was motivated to join after his own SWD experience. He is very passionate about the hub and has already begun in leading and managing its activities such as an event on entrepreneurship, and an arts and networking event where attendees were invited to share names for the space on our Blackboard of Ideas. We would like to reintroduce our creative hub under the new name “The Green Door”.
A quick update from the UNESCO anti-GBV project, which was designed based on learning from SWD combined with Human-Centred-Design methodologies. The institutions' tailor-made campaigns aimed at tackling the issues that are directly affecting their institution, which is now in full flow. Due to the project, there has been an increase in the number of cases reported and new systems are being put into place to handle these new cases. The schools are working closely with authorities to handle the cases and bring the once hidden cases to light. The programme is supported through the Skills and Technical Education Programme (STEP), an initiative partially implemented by UNESCO with funding from the European Union.
UNESCO project intervention at Aida Chilembwe