CAMFED Association member and Engineering student
I was raised by my grandparents, after my dad passed away when I was five years old and my mother later passed on too. In 2009 my grandparents took me in and we relocated to Lilongwe. Everything was new to me since I was from a village. I started my school in the city and at first it was really hard. There were people from different backgrounds — some from very well-to-do families — and at first I used to cry about it. My grandparents would always encourage me to remember where I came from, what I set out to accomplish, and not to waste time comparing myself with others. So I adapted and I would set time to study in the morning before class and also in the evening. That was how I spent most of my time in school.
I faced the challenge of a lack of resources because my grandparents were not able to provide all of the things I needed. After CAMFED stepped in with the support that challenge was solved. This came as a surprise, as at the time I did not know anything about CAMFED. My grandparents were so happy and relieved because they were already struggling with fees and seeking help from different people. And to see the amount of support we were receiving — with school fees and essential items — was so encouraging and I think this is one of the things that pushed me to work hard in school. I was able to concentrate on my studies and not worry that I was a burden to my grandparents even though they repeatedly told me that they would do everything to see me get educated. I did the work in order to make my grandmother proud and to show CAMFED that the support was not going to waste. I was so happy to complete secondary school.
Learning I had secured a university scholarship was a very exciting moment for me. I am going to study Metrology and Material Engineering at Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST). It is one of the latest fields of study in Malawi, and I am interested in pursuing it because I want to explore new ground. I want to prove that girls can succeed in this field. In our cohort, there is only one other girl who was chosen to study this.
I look forward to learning new things at university and making meaningful friendships at the same time. I am planning to use the principles instilled in us at secondary school in order to make sure that I perform well academically. In future I would like to gain work experience with manufacturing companies, and then with the knowledge I gain, to start up my own company. I would also like to help more people by providing employment to others.
In my family I am the only one who has gotten this far with education. Everyone is looking up to me.
I want to be able to support my family so my siblings can also get a chance at a good education. And as for my community, I also want to make a meaningful contribution in helping other people also get a chance at a good life. I want people to remember me by my good deeds, so I will do whatever I can to reach out and help.
I am an active member of the CAMFED Association of women leaders, who have been supported through their education by CAMFED. Together we do charitable work — for example in the Lilongwe chapter we agreed that every month we would do at least one activity. This might include visiting children at Lilongwe Central Hospital to cheer them up and bring them a little something bought with money we have. We also visit child headed families and buy items like soap, sugar, and salt, just a little something to share with them. We also hold motivational talks with girls in our communities to encourage them to work hard in school.
The community has embraced us CAMFED Association members. We often get approached by women asking that we chat with their children and encourage them, so they can also complete their education and make something out of their lives.
I am hoping to be part of the change, to be able to make meaningful contributions in my community and in Malawi so that everyone can see that we have to invest in girls, that we are also capable of accomplishing things like boys are.
Girls face a lot of challenges in getting the same chances in education and more generally. Without the support of peers and school communities these challenges can seem too great to overcome and this eats away at girls’ confidence and focus on education. If no one is encouraging you, you can easily give up, especially if you do not have passion for school. The first thing is to reach out to the girls, to talk to them, to motivate them, and to offer emotional support. Even if the financial resources are there, sometimes we all just need someone to talk to.
Lack of sanitary wear is another challenge faced by girls, particularly in rural areas.Girls are forced to stay home and not attend classes when they are on their period. I am encouraged to see several initiatives that are bringing awareness to this issue in Malawi so people are coming in with help.
My advice to younger girls would be that we all meet challenges in life but if you have patience and work hard it is all possible. You can achieve your dreams!
My grandmother is my biggest inspiration — she has achieved a lot of things in her life. She was a Midwife, and she has received several awards in her career, including recognition as one of the people bringing about change in their communities from 53 countries in Africa. Seeing her achieve all that is just so inspiring and I want to be like her — bringing about change in our communities despite facing a lot of setbacks.