“My parents could not afford everything that I needed at school including notebooks and reading lamp. As such, I used to abscond classes a lot and I eventually dropped out of school”, Fatima explained when she was telling her story during an interface meeting that Creative Centre for Community Mobilization (CRECCOM) organized on 27th August 2021 under Breakthrough ACTION project at GVH Malata, TA Makhuwira in Chikwawa district. The meeting brought together various district and community stakeholder to discuss success and challenges encountered during the implementation of the project.
Fatima Rajabu, now aged 19, is one of the girls that benefited from the project’s intervention through Community Action Groups (CAGs). At the age of 17, Fatima dropped out of school due to lack of learning materials which her parents couldn’t afford because of poverty. According to Fatima, who hails from Gelevulo village in the GVH Malata, dropping out of school led to a hard life for her at home.
“After dropping out of school, all I could be doing at home was going to the farm to work and there was no time for studying any school text books”, Fatima continued to narrate. Her future kept getting gloomy until the day CAG intervened after being trained by Breakthrough ACTION project to proactively mobilize their fellow community members towards ending child marriages in support of education.
“We were trained on how we can contribute towards ending child marriages and we started implementing our action plan. We are now seeing the fruits of our work as some girls are retrieved from marriage and getting readmitted back to school”, Allison Maganizo, General CAG chair explained proudly. According to him, CAG approached Fatima’s parents and motivated them to strive towards creating a bright future for their daughter with the little income they have.
“When we got reports that Fatima is one of the girls who dropped out of school, we approached her parents and had a constructive dialogue with them. We also talked to Fatima on the importance of school. Her parents made a promise that they will try their best to provide the school resources for Fatima when she gets back to school.” Allison explained.
Fatima is now back to school in Form 1 at Limphangwi Secondary School and although not as much as she would have loved, some of the learning resources that she needed were bought by her parents. According to her, she now dreams of becoming a nurse when she finishes school. On the other hand, Allison and his fellow CAG members are so motivated to help more girls in similar situations even beyond Breakthrough ACTION project’s duration.
“Our goal here in GVH Malata is to continue rescuing children from early marriages and see them getting readmitted in school even after the phasing-out of the Breakthrough ACTION project,” Allison concluded. Breakthrough ACTION was a one-year project funded by USAID, implemented by John’s Hopkins University – Centered for Communication Programs, in partnership with Save the Children, CRECCOM and GENET, in Chikwawa and Machinga districts.