Last academic year, I had the opportunity to be a mentor at Pirimiti CDSS as a member of Little Big Prints, a GirlChild Education intervention. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I knew I would meet loads of girls with hopes and dreams to finish their secondary school and go to college. All I was told was, “we motivate and inspire”.
One of the first realizations I had from mentoring, is the amount of things I take for granted, simply because I grew up in an environment that taught me things and opened my eyes to a bigger world. For instance, when we asked the girls what they hope to be, almost everyone said they wanted to be a nurse, journalist or police woman. They genuinely had no idea that there are other careers out there! And they were so limited! We had an intervention where we decided we would talk about careers and we talked about goals and how to achieve them. We also had a day when we showed them pictures of the Chancellor College campus and they were so excited! They all just wanted to find more, and at the end, a girl talked about how she actually loves cooking, and when she saw that Chancellor College has the Home Economics department, she was so motivated to work towards this direction and she saw no shame in admitting her passion.
We had a day when we just sat down and talked to the girls, one-on-one and as a group. We talked about college life, and they talked to us about their boarding life. Another thing I learnt was the impact peer pressure had on them. We were talking about girlfriends/boyfriends and one of the girls admitted seeing her friends with a boyfriend made her want to be in a relationship. And I asked her why she thought a boyfriend is necessary, when the school was against it, and she just laughed. To her, this was her time to enjoy and she felt like the school was denying her a chance to ‘live’. All I told her was to do school, and that she would have the chance to be in a relationship when she is done with her MSCE. It was a great talk, but I wish we tackled the issue of peer pressure more because of the high pregnancy rate at this school which can be easily linked to peer pressure.
My father has always been passionate about women empowerment, and has always motivated me to work in this direction. Being a mentor has opened that door for me, and I learnt that these girls have a lot of potential, they are eager to learn, curious about college and looked at the mentors with admiration. They dream big; some dream bigger than I ever could. But they lack the motivation, the resources and the inspiration to make these dreams a reality. I believe Malawi would definitely be different and more developed if women were empowered and it all begins with working from the grassroots.
I am grateful for this opportunity to see the world through these girls’ eyes, and the chance to make a difference.