Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Ms. Vanessa Chimutu
Since I started working with my community, one of my favorite days of the week is Thursdays. It’s pretty simple because this day of the week is when I get to chat with the girls of Nsala Community Day Secondary School. Now I know someone can ask, “What are these chats you are talking about?” Well, this is an extracurricular program that provides girls with information about leadership, facilitation, life skills, sexual reproductive health, and career guidance. In simple terms, CHATS stands for Creating Healthy Approaches To Success. This work is done through the guidance of my partner organization Age Africa which is an organization that seeks to advance girls’ education in Africa through the provision of scholarships to vulnerable girls and also through their chat curriculum that provides the girls with different skills.
The most recent and memorable session we had with the girls was on the topic on gender and the community. Here the girls discussed the issues that surround gender in their community, for example, they talked about the different gender roles which they play and how different they are as compared to boys’ roles in the community, and how these affect their education. One interesting example was from a form four girl Chisomo who talked about her gender workload chat where she explained how she walks all the way from her home to school, which is 7 kilometers away and she ends up being late for school because she has to do chores before she leaves for school as compared to her brother, who just gets ready and leaves for school. The girls expressed their problems and at the end also helped one another to come up with possible solutions for the dilemmas they face. This is the most interesting part because this is where you see their critical thinking skills and problem solving skills. It really shows that the CHAT sessions with the girls are an outstanding tool in motivating students in advancing their education.
Furthermore, we had the honor and privilege of having the Ambassador of Malawi to the United States, Mr. Necton Mhura, participate in our CHAT session. He was such an inspiration to the girls, as he gave a motivational talk about his journey and advised the girls to never give up on their dreams. He emphasized that education is key, especially for the girls, as educating girls means educating a whole entire community. The girls where very much encouraged and inspired with his words of advice. Lastly, he also talked about how they should not take their scholarships for granted as that opportunity only comes once in a lifetime.
I therefore believe that the sessions we have with the girls give them a sense of direction and motivate them to not sway from their goals at the end of the day. Therefore I would like to encourage my fellow bloggers and readers to be catalysts for the promotion of gender equality throughout the globe, as this is key to having a well rounded society.