The Graca Machel Trust has given a lifeline to 15 female school dropouts from Traditional Authority Kalolo in Lilongwe.
The trust, founded by Graca Machel, wife to former South African president, the late Nelson Mandela, has pledged to support the education of the girls who had quit school due to early and forced marriages.
The trust made the commitment after the girls—all of whom went to Malunje Primary School—showed commitment to return to school when Machel visited the area last week.
Machel, who quietly jetted into the country on a private visit, undertook various tasks for several civil society organisations in line with the core functions of her trust.
The Weekend Nation understands the malpractice of forced marriage is still rampant in T/A Kalolo’s area despite efforts by government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to curb the malpractice.
Of the 15 girls that will get support from the Graca Machel Trust, three were defiled, three others raped while the rest were forced into marriage, resulting in unplanned child births
Visibly filled with compassion after hearing their stories, Machel asked to meet the girls in private where she assured them she would clear their path to a brighter future, but on one condition.
“You have to be willing to grasp this second chance in life as if it were your only. I will personally make sure that I make some follow-ups on each one of you as regards your education. My trust may not be rich, but should you remain vigilant in your studies, I assure you continued support towards your education,” she said.
Machel told the girls to be determined and complete their education.
“Forget your shame, forge ahead and don’t go back to your old ways. My organisation, government and NGOs can drum up all the support for you, but if you are not courageous and determined, all the support will be in vain,” she said.
Minister of Gender, Children’s Welfare and Disability Patricia Kaliati applauded Machel for the support, saying this will encourage more girls in similar situations to return to school.