Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Umusa Ng’oma
In my time with my host mother, I came to know a girl. Let’s call her Yankho. Yankho is about 12 years old. She was working as a maid at a nearby house. When the schools opened, I had hoped that she would start school. A couple of weeks down the line, I asked her why she was not in school and her responses ranged from one thing to another, nothing concrete. After a while, she came over to my house and we spoke at length about different issues. I brought up the school issue and she bluntly told me that she would never go back to school. Her mother said something that left a scar. She said “Pa ana anga onse, palibe wa phindu. Sindingavutike kukuphunzitsani” which means “Of my children, none of them is worth sending to school as none is useful.”
Everyone has hopes and dreams but, my Yankho doesn’t even want to talk about them. She doesn’t even see the point of talking about something that will never happen. I attempted to reason with her but it seemed to irritate her. I will take my time with her. A lot of people have succumbed to such words, thrown in the towel, and lived aimlessly. I fear that these words will likely cause Yankho to end up like some of the girls in the community. On a little trip to the health facility, I was told how teenage pregnancies were high and how most dropped out to get married. I fear that Yankho will settle for what is easy.
Yankho is just an example of how powerful words are. It has been said that words can build someone or tear them down completely. So many have had hopes crushed and dreams scattered because the wrong words were spoken. But the opposite is true as well.
I will choose to be different, to build rather than tear down. I am hoping to start a girl’s club in my community with help from the mother group. I would want to inspire them that they can be so much more and open them up to a whole world of possibilities. Hopefully, my words will help.
I still have a couple of months to go, I hope to inspire girls like Yankho.
“Be careful with your words. Once they are said, they can be only forgiven, not forgotten.” – Unknown