On behalf of the YPARD Malawi Chapter, we would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to YPARD and the MasterCard Foundation for their financial and technical contributions towards our role modelling and vision setting event conducted at Mlomba Community day secondary school. Without their support the team wouldn’t have managed the event.
Secondly, we also extend the warmest thanks to Bunda Female Students Organization for accepting to be part and parcel of the role modelling project. Your time and support is greatly appreciated. Last but not least, we also thank the members of staff for Mlomba and its students for allowing us to conduct our function at their school. May God bless you all.
Mlomba is a day Community secondary school located in the rural areas of Mitundu in Malawi. The school is comprised of all classes starting from form one to four. It is categorized as one of the poor schools in term of its infrastructure and learning materials; Very dilapidated classrooms and office rooms, no library nor laboratory.
The chairs are not even enough for the school which results in 85 percent of the students sitting on the floor during lessons. Following a detailed orientation by the head teacher, it was revealed that the school has been there for ages and ever since has no record of a student admitted to a university. Another sad finding was that out of every twenty-five girls selected to start form one at this school, six of them ended up impregnated or getting married before completing their form one. This is due to the high poverty level in the area affecting their parents hence opting for early marriages as a solution to solve their financial woes.
It was also touching to see the girls who could not hide the shame of not affording sanitary pads during their menstrual periods hence staying at home when in such situations. These are just a few problems presented although we heard so many pitiful stories regarding the welfare of students starting from their homes to school. Although with touching stories from the student, it was revealed that our activity was the first role modeling to take place at Mlomba school.
The role modelling was regarded as a wakeup call for Mlombwa female students to start working on shaping their future. We tackled several areas such as; Why should they opt for Science and Agriculture during university selection, the need for small agricultural enterprise, vision setting and creating purpose roadmaps among others.
We also presented a case study of one of our youth whose life has been transformed because of Agribusiness. There was active participation from students who opened up to share their business ideas. However, it was revealed that the students do not conduct individual business rather helping their parents. With our case study, some students expressed interest to venture in minor business.
One of the business ideas from the student, Vitumbuko felt she will venture in local chicken rearing. Her capital will come from her parents; begging them to give her a chick! Once it grows and hatch, she will make sure that it keeps hatching and then sell other chickens to buy a small goat and then later on venture into cattle farming for milk production. All these were to help students discover positive sources of earning money than relying on male students or married men.
The students could not hide their joy seeing university girls shining during the talk. They then pledged to forget their burdens and aim high. To further motivate them, we selected six students who were awarded different learning materials such as school bags, mathematical instruments, notebooks, writing materials etc. because of their outstanding performance in science and agriculture in the previous results. Other students were awarded because of presenting sound business ideas. Above all, the role modelling and vision setting were enjoyable and informative.
Onward and forward
Our Malawi team agreed to sustain the program of mentoring the school girls at Mlombwa even after the YPARD funding. We invited BUFESO students to continue visiting the school and reminding the girls about taking a heart on their academic performance in sciences, aiming for tertiary education and also implementing minor business to solve their financial crisis.
We will also follow-up on their business ideas and blogging on their success stories. Three school fees scholarships were also awarded to the bright but poor students. On their own, the secondary school girls reached a consensus of forming a club called “Atsikana Otsogola” meaning girls with ambitions which will be frequently monitored by BUFESO girls and also the YPARD Malawi team.
The aim of the club is to keep reminding the students and also following their career path. It was also agreed that we will select five bright students who will be attached to individuals amongst the YPARD Malawi chapter team and also BUFESO whom we will continue funding their tuition until the end of their secondary school education.
Photo Credit: Erik Törner, IM Individuell Människohjäl Flickr