Secondary Scholar, Malawi
Fanny lives in a remote village in Malawi. She longed to have a childhood of going to school and playing with her friends – but when she was just 10 years old, her mother, a single parent, became too ill to support the family. With no one to turn to as a guardian or caregiver, Fanny had to step up as the head of the household.
I was really disappointed when I saw my friends playing, because I had so many worries.
Fanny’s mother and three of her young siblings relied on her to earn money, provide food, and take care of them. She found work in whatever ways she could; washing other people’s clothes or walking into the hills alone to collect firewood, or even plastic bags, to sell. Fanny was hungry, exhausted and having to put herself at risk each day.
Even with the burden of all her responsibilities, Fanny knew that education could change her path and she was determined to remain in school.
She would arrive late for her lessons every day, but never lost her place at the top of the class.
When more people are educated, it is the same as development. It is a great change in life.
Fanny dreamed of pursuing a career as a healthcare worker and providing her family with greater security. Then she would be able to break the vicious cycle of poverty her family had become trapped in. But with no way of raising the money required for secondary school-going costs, a brighter future seemed out of reach.
After being empowered through education, we all have the capabilities to change things in life and become reliable citizens in this world.
Then, Fanny heard she had been chosen to receive support from CAMFED. The entitlements she received included school uniforms, shoes, sanitary pads and books, as well as counselling from a trained Teacher Mentor.
With her right to education secured, and her hopes reignited, Fanny began to thrive in secondary school. She enjoys so many subjects, but English and Biology are her favourites!
I’m moving forward with education. I see all the possibilities now CAMFED is supporting me.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, efforts to slow the spread resulted in schools in countries across the world, including Malawi, temporarily closing. As movement constraints and economic disruptions hit her community, Fanny witnessed an increase in poverty forcing girls into early marriages in her community. Despite the challenges, she was determined to continue with her education.
I know there is a certain solution which is much better than getting married – education!
While Fanny waited for her classes to resume, she received encouragement and support from CAMFED staff, including the District Operations Officer, as well as the Head Teacher of her school, who kept her updated on plans for school reopening.
Back home, she missed the school environment which makes learning so enjoyable.
When I’m in school, I can concentrate, I feel comfortable.
Now Fanny is back in school to complete her final year exams, and her ambitions are rekindled. Her future is now hers to shape, and she hopes to excel in the sciences to secure her dream job of being a psychiatrist.
After school, Fanny will be able to join the CAMFED Association (CAMA), a powerful peer support and leadership network active across five African countries. She is already thinking about how she can give back to her community and lead change in Malawi. Most of all, she hopes to support other vulnerable girls, particularly those from child-headed households, to access education.
I’m the leader! I’ve got the potential! If I’m not going to change the world, the world is going to be the same. The world is waiting for me to change it!
Read Fanny’s blog: The best husband in the world is education!
Listen to Fanny speak on On Spec Podcast about her life during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Find out how CAMFED Association members and Community Champions have been supporting girls to keep learning during school disruptions.