For the majority of girls in Malawi, life does not have a lot of choices. You may get the chance to go to elementary school, but less than 3% of girls ever graduate high school. Most families expect girls to learn to cook, gather wood and water, take care of children and work in the fields. Before age 18, half of Malawi’s girls are already married. 84% of births (that are recorded) are from teen mothers. Most girls have few dreams. They accept the idea that their fate has already been set for them by someone else. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
For almost 2 years now Y-Malawi has been working to empower women and girls in the community of Nkhotakota. It is one of the poorest districts in Malawi. During that time nearly 500 girls have been rescued from early marriage. Some of those girls have gone back to school. The fuel that is powering this program is sponsorship. 50 some girls are now attending high schools. Y-Malawi is paying their school fees, providing schooling supplies and even helping with food and lodging for those who must travel long distances to class.
But is all of this really making a difference? Are girls really being empowered? Are lives really changing? To find out we visited some of the girls at their school. We asked them a just one question. What do you want to do when you finish school? Frankly, the answers surprised even us. Not one of the girls gave thought to not going on to college. They have big dreams. Their goals included airline pilot, lawyer, doctor, even President!
These are the women that will impact the future of Malawi. They will influence not just the course of their own lives, but those of their families, churches, communities and nation. It won’t happen overnight, it may even take a generation, but it is happening, and we feel blessed to be a part of it.