Written by Yusuf Khan
I have been in Malawi for three months now and my journey is nearly over. I have visited various schools and communities, help run awareness days, and trained peer educators. I have felt a sense of compassion and thoughtfulness that I have not felt anywhere in the world. There, however, exist deep prejudices, which scar a culture admired for its compassion.
One such intolerance faces girls, even more so to those who become pregnant whilst not married. The story of Funny Manda (not real name) a girl who became pregnant at the age of fourteen is a story that should be heard, as it is a story which defied the imperceptive attitudes that subject many to a life of silence and regret. Pregnant and without the support of the father of the child and without the option of an abortion, as it is illegal in Malawi, Funny Manda, a child, was alone and frightened. Under the belief that she would have to leave her house for becoming pregnant she stayed silent for three months until the weight of the situation became too much. Much too her surprise her parents were supportive and said they would help her and her child. Unfortunately, this meant that she would have to drop out of school.
With the help of her parents, she supported the child and herself for three years. Now 17 and with no prospects in life except that of being a mother; Manda struggled with mounting stress and boredom. She decide to join her local youth club provided support and assistance to those in need.
It was here where YONECO (Youth Net and Counselling), whom support local youths clubs through running workshop sessions and offer peer education training visited. Hearing her plight, YONECO offered her an opportunity to empower herself and control her future through paying all her school fees, equipment and uniform.
Funny Manda will now attend university allowing her the opportunity to support her parents and her child. She will be able to offer her child an education and offer her parents security in their old age. She will be able to offer assistance to others and contribute to her community. This simple act of paying Funny's school fees has meant she has had the opportunity to become the women she dreamed of becoming and having the confidence to tell her story so others will not suffer as she once did. Curently, Funny is at Chifira Community Day Secondary School doing her Form Three.