In an effort to reduce cases of early pregnancy, child abuse and unnecessary dropping out from school Story Workshop Education Trust (SWET) introduced the Usaiwale project which so far has revived careers of many girls who faced abuse in their communities.
Many girls who withdrew from school and opted for marriage have since returned to school following the Usaiwale campaign which is encouraging the youths to be open and report cases of sexual abuse which they are facing in their communities.
According to the Projects Officer for SWET Mrs. Ambele Kayuni the project has empowered many young people to take control of their own sexual and reproductive health.
“Young people face a lot of problems but they fail to come out and report the cases. In addition to that some of them don’t take control of their sexual and reproductive health, as such Usaiwale project is working together with these young people in the country and other stakeholders to promote their rights and revive their lost hope of attaining education”, said Kayuni.
Speaking during a stakeholders meeting at Kanjedza lodge James Chavula of Euthini listening club from T/A Chindi in Mzimba said the project has reduced cases of gender based violence in the area.
He said during their meetings as a listening club for Usaiwale they discuss issues which hamper their education hence finding ways of overcoming the challenges.
“In our area there were a lot of cases of rape and early marriages, but with the introduction of Usaiwale radio listening clubs the cases have now gone down. As young people we are conducting sensitization meetings encouraging people to report cases of child abuse and of course we are also helping in withdrawing girls who opted for early marriage and send them back to school”, said Chavula.
In Balaka, Usaiwale radio listening clubs have facilitated the implementation of by-laws to help children enjoy their right to education.
According to Gloria Lyson of Tawina listening club, among others the by-laws indicate that video shows which are found accommodating children during learning time will be paying a fine of MK 3000.
“The problem in Balaka is that most children go for video shows during learning time, so we have set MK3000 which the video show owners will be paying if found allowing children in their video shows. We have also agreed with bar owners to be lowering their public addressing system so as to allow the pupils concentrate on their learning”, said Lyson.
In Mchinji cultural practices were said to be preventing many young people as most of them were interested in Gule wamkulu instead of going to school.
However, according to Emmanuel Chambokera of Umodzi listening club, Usaiwale project through the listening club which is in Traditional Authority Mavwere, traditional leaders have understood the importance of allowing young people to go to school first and enjoy their culture during holidays.
Story Workshop airs Usaiwale programme every Saturday on Radio 2 FM from 13:50hrs.
Usaiwale which is funded by GIZ through UNICEF has listening clubs in Mchinji, Mzimba, Balaka and Dedza districts.