Their experiences are similar. They are all teenage mothers. They dropped out of school after falling pregnant, got married and dumped by their youthful husbands before they went back to school.
Now they are on mission to save young girls from taking their initial doomed path.
Through their experiences, Martha Misoya, Dorothy Joseph, Felista Jani and Jennifer Moses the four are now committed to saving girls from falling into the trap of child marriages in Traditional Authority (T/A) Masache, Chikwawa.
Given resources, they would travel around the country to testify about the harrowing journey of teenage motherhood, the girls say.
“It’s a nightmare no girl should go through,” says Misoya who fell pregnant in 2015 while in Form Three.
After two years at home as a mother, Misoya has gone back to school. The same goes with the other three girls, thanks to a programme by the World Vision Malawi (WVM) called Adolescent for Action Development (AGYD).
Joseph says marriage was the worst part of my life, adding that education was key for a woman’s independence.
Through various youth clubs, the girls go to communities and schools encouraging girls to focus on their education.
“We use peer to peer interactions and testimonies in engaging the girls,” says Jani who dropped out of school after being selected to Phanda Community Day Secondary in Chikwawa.
Moses is the leader of this ‘role model’ movement and says their advocacy touches on a number of issues that pose challenges to girl child education.
“Apart from urging girls to return to school, we also speak against harmful cultural practices that perpetrate the violation girls’ rights.
“Here in Chikwawa, many parents force girls into marriages for their own benefit. We want that to end,” says Moses.
She adds that their advocacy also targets parents and traditional leaders.
WVM technical programmes manager for education Florence Pwele says the initiative is aimed at improving the enjoyment of rights by the youths, girls in particular.
“We want to empower adolescents, especially girls, who drop out of school because of marriages and pregnancies to have a second chance in life,” Pwele points out.
AGYD, which is supported by Unicef, has four models namely youth ready, early childhood development (ECD), entrepreneurship and literary boost.
Ministry of Education, Science and Technology spokesperson, Lindiwe Chide recognises the important role the young girls are playing.
“We wish the nation had more of these girls to inspire others. We would have more girls in schools pursuing their dream careers,” Chide says. n