Over 20 girls in the area of Inkosi Khonsolo in Malawi’s northern region district of Mzimba have been rescued from marriages and returned back to school – courtesy of a project dubbed collective efforts in being implemented by Action Aid Malawi.
Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of a display of activities from schools around the area on Saturday, one of the girls who is now in form four Patricia Banda said despite having three children she is now determined to finish her education in order to independently fend for her twin girls and one boy
Patricia who is 23 however says she is struggling to support her education as she also looks after her children alone with her mother.
“I got pregnant when I was in form two at a private secondary school and my aunt chased me out of her home , so I came here and started staying with my mum”, says Patricia
However she got married and got pregnant where she bore twins.
” After I got discharged from the hospital and reached my husband’s village they told me the marriage was over and I had to go back to live with my mother again where am still living but I am now back in school”,says Patricia who easily mingles with the group of her chuckling peers.
Inkosi Khonsolo of the area heaps praise at the efforts being done by Action aid Malawi in ensuring that girls are being kept in school but says NGOs must look at teachers accommodation and girls hostels
“Children in this area are walking long distances in search of education some as far as 10 kilometers so anything can happen to the girl child while on the way hence its imperative for NGOs to help us with hostels”, said Inkosi khonsolo
He said some of the girls who have been reinstated back in schools after stints of marriage life may have gotten hooked to such dilemma because of long distances
In this regard Inkosi khonsolo hailed the ‘Ujama’ component of the collective project which entails that girl learners are equipped with basic skills for safe defence when faced with a sexual assault .
Action aid program officer for Mzimba district Harry Chikandira said the UNICEF funded project which was launched last year aims at ensuring that communities are able to support the education of their children
” I can say this project has achieved a lot for instance we have managed to bring back to school a lot of girls who had dropped out and were married, they have children, we have also managed to create platforms where stakeholders discuss their children’s education needs “,said Chikandira
On support for such learners who stumble because of glaring poverty levels ,Chikandira said as an organization they only link the concerned parents with a number of government safety nets like the public works programs.
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