Fatima was orphaned as a young girl, and from the age of ten was raised by her grandmother. Deprivation in their rural community meant that the education of boys was prioritized over that of girls. Even at primary level, Fatima, as the eldest girl, would often stay at home to help with household chores. Her grandmother relied on subsistence farming to support Fatima and her four siblings; there was barely enough money for food, let alone education.
Even with all these challenges, Fatima felt she had to try her best to stay in school. As well as helping with chores at home and finding odd jobs to earn money, she attended school as much as she could. But by the beginning of secondary school she was sent home for not paying her fees. With no way to raise the money, Fatima believed her education was over.
After a month had passed, she was contacted by a School-Based Committee made up of teachers, parents and other community members. Together with the local Traditional Leader, they talked over Fatima’s family circumstances and selected her to receive CAMFED support. Fatima was so excited and remembers how the support covered every need: “paying my school fees, giving me sanitary pads, giving me a stipend every term, exercise books every term, ten hardcover notebooks every month, and a school bag for two years, and shoes for two years, school uniform and socks.”
Since that day Fatima has been a trailblazer in her family and her community. She was the first girl from her village to attain the Malawi Certificate of Education (MCSE) and has become a leader in the CAMFED alumnae association, CAMA. Fatima took the opportunity to become a Core Trainer, and in this role, was instrumental in launching CAMFED’s Learner Guide Program in Malawi.