This is a guest post from Henry Mhango, a member of the Join My Village team in Malawi. Originally from Rumphi District in Northern Malawi, he now works to link the communities Join My Village supports with communities in the US. Read about some of the great work Henry and Join My Village are doing to empower girls in Malawi through good education.
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The sun is about to set over Chalowa Primary School on a warm Saturday afternoon. It is quieter than a usual school day, except for a small lively group of girls across the school yard. Here, usually shy girls are stepping out of their comfort zone, and volunteering their precious spare time to help other girls. This is mentoring at its best!
Over the past year the Join My Village team has hand-picked a team of 30 scholarship girls to be mentors. All but 2 of these girls have already been trained as mentors and have started their mission to mentor over 100 girls from different primary schools. They do this by going to their old primary schools on Saturday afternoon and talking with the girls about their stories, how they qualified for secondary school and their experience at secondary school so far, and the importance of girls education.
Mentoring is a new initiative of the Join My Village program, aiming to motivate young girls to continue their education and providing important role models in their community by using the program’s unique link with secondary school girls.
Lucy Kamanga and Dania Banda are both in Grade 8 at Chalowa primary school and were among the students who had a chat with mentors Sphiwe Mwale and Selina Kamanga, who are Form 3 (Junior) students from Kafukule and Linyangwa secondary schools, respectively.
Dania was surprised by the changes she saw in Sphiwe, whom she has known for many years and who used to be quite shy. “Apart from their good advice, I was also impressed with their confidence in responding to our questions and concerns. I am now encouraged to work hard in school so that one day I can come back home well dressed in a beautiful uniform like they have done and mentor girls from my primary school” a 15 year old Dania told me.
Even myself, I noticed the changes in these mentors. Compared to the other girls they were comfortable speaking with me and opening up. In rural Malawi many girls are not confident to speak to men, especially those that are older than them. This proves to me how important it is improve the education opportunities for all girls, and the role the mentor program can play in reaching this goal.
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