Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Margaret Magombo
The announcement of the reopening of schools on 7th September was a source of joy to many learners. However, this was not the case to some learners, girl learners, who were greatly affected by the closing of schools due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This is the case of Alinafe (not her real name), a form four (middle high school) student at Nsondole Community Day Secondary School.
When schools were being closed in March 2020, Alinafe was just as normal as any other girl child. She was anxious about her future just like all the other learners whose eyes could not see beyond the Covid-19 pandemic. She vividly recalls that with the passing of time, hearing no positive news about school reopening, her anxiety began to turn into worry. She could see herself slowly succumbing to the pressure, which she could once easily resist. Without considering the consequence, she was pressured by those she called friends to find herself a boyfriend. As she recalls, it was easier to fall for this trap due to the sugar-coated fantasies that her friends told her as being part and parcel of boy-girl relationship. To her amazement, the relationship was nothing more than a game of manipulation and dominance. No sooner than the relationship began, the boy began to pressure Alinafe into sex. Her refusal to bow down to the demand made her feel lonely and vulnerable. It was not long after yielding to the pressure that she discovered that she was pregnant.
Alinafe was devastated by the discovery. She did not know what to do. She felt lonely and more worthless than ever. The boy who made her conceive made it point blank that he has nothing to do with her and the unborn baby. She was at great pains to embrace her reality. Being a form four student awaiting to write national examinations, Alinafe was very bitter with the announcement of the re-opening of schools. It has always been her determination to be the first child in her family to walk into the corridors of college. Now her dream seemed farfetched, she could not see herself withstanding the ridicule teen mothers and pregnant school girls face.
When I got wind of the news of Alinafe I was moved. I knew she needed the right guidance and counseling. Meeting her I could see the despair and frustrations pretty plain. I had to encourage and restore her self-worth. Through our meeting, Alinafe understood that all is not lost. She affirmed her determination to continue with her education despite her condition and take full advantage of the government’s directive that all girl learners who have fallen pregnant during the Covid-19 pandemic are welcome to go back to school.
With the reopening of schools effected, Alinafe is weathering all the storms of ridicule and atmosphere of shame surrounding girls who fall pregnant out of wedlock while in school. She is now more than ever determined to work her socks up to achieve the dream that almost died due to untamed pressures experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic. Hers is a story of unmatched courage; courage worth applauding.