CAMFED Association member, Malawi
Esmie’s father died when she was very young. Her mother had to support six children, leaving her without the resources to pay for Esmie’s school fees and supplies. Nevertheless, her mother encouraged her to go to school, believing this to be the best route out of poverty.
Esmie felt a responsibility to help her mother by contributing to the family income, and was on the verge of dropping out of school due to the financial pressures the family faced. She told a teacher about her challenges, and was directed to a CAMFED-trained Teacher Mentor who determined that she was in need of support. Esmie was put forward for a CAMFED bursary, and remembers how it felt when she found out she was selected: “I could see that my future was now open. I was relieved in my mind because I was not going to drop out.” Esmie – now able to arrive at school in a new uniform and with all the school supplies she needed – grew in confidence and self-esteem. As a result, her performance in school improved.
The meaning of success to me is to be someone who will be able to support myself, to provide support to my family, and to be able to address problems that can occur in my life.
Esmie joined the CAMFED Association (CAMA), after completing secondary school in 2014, and started volunteering in her community. The CAMFED Association places a strong emphasis on philanthropy, supporting members to become independent women and change makers in their communities. “We are given so many trainings, paving the way for us to change the negatives into positives.”
Esmie is dedicated to the development of her community and, with her peers in the CAMFED Association, helps students to stay in school by providing essential items such as pens, notebooks, school shoes and uniforms. Esmie has also personally supported six children in school. Her volunteer work has included leading study circles and literacy sessions to improve knowledge and learning for children and their parents.
Through education, I can support my family. Through education, I can support my community. Through education, I can change my country, the whole country.
Esmie is passionate about girls’ education because it enables young women to gain financial independence for herself and her future children. Esmie explains that the two most prominent barriers to education are a lack of basic school supplies (uniforms, pens, shoes) and the pressure girls and young women without financial means– many of whom have lost one or both parents — face from men who promise to provide. This often results in early marriages and teen pregnancy, posing a grave risk to health and wellbeing.
Esmie explains that once she received CAMFED support, she felt secure and empowered. She could no longer be pressured into accepting offers of money or marriage from older men. Now she uses her own experience to support and encourage more girls and their families in her community.
Through what I have experienced, I can go to the community, advise my younger sisters…I will be able to address the challenges we are facing in the village. Because I have been there before and now here I am.
Esmie recently completed her tertiary education at a technical college, with a degree in community development. She chose to study community development because she saw the impact of CAMFED on her community and herself. She wants to continue plowing back the benefits of her education, and give others the opportunity she was given, so that they too can be drivers of change.