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Miss Independent: The Story of an Iron Lady

Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Mr. Chiukepo Mwenechanya

It is a sad reality in my country that young girls get married at a very young age. My community is no different. With a patrilineal system, girls and women are mostly considered as housewives. School is like a waiting place for most of these girls for marriage. Puberty sounds like a sign of readiness for marriage in my community. Most of the girls enter marriage before even reaching the age of 18, with little education. These girls mostly rely on their spouses to provide for their basic needs. Another sad thing about this is the abusive marriages these girls end up in.

This is a story of Miss Jane (not her real name) who was married at the age of 16 to a polygamous and abusive husband. After nine years of enduring a very physically and emotionally abusive marriage she decided to call it quits and returned home to her family with her only child. Getting back to her family was not easy since she had to assume the responsibility of looking after her child by herself without looking for handouts or support from her parents or siblings since they too had responsibilities of their own. In 2011, she was about to give up on life to the point of thinking of committing suicide when her brother in South Africa decided to give her a fresh start in South Africa. She managed to secure a job there as a maid of which she saved all her earnings and returned home after a year and half.

After much reflection, Jane decided to venture into business as a way of empowering herself economically since securing a job in such a small and local community seemed to be an impossible task. After all, she did not go far with her education to land her a decent job. After weeks of doing farm jobs, she secured funds and with her savings from South Africa she decided to start a baking business, a skill she learnt from an acquaintance years back when she went to visit a relative in Mzuzu.

A few months after venturing into this business the gamble paid off. She is now a popular business lady in my site and making profits from her business. She bakes Mandasi (local scones) and on a good day she sells up to $40 worth of the baked goods. She also bakes bread and in December, a time of peak for community ceremonies like Christmas, she can sell over 250 loaves of bread in a week. The booming business keeps her occupied and able to take care of herself and her kid with no support from relatives. She currently has a savings account, which has over $700, which she intends to use to expand her business by upgrading her equipment to meet her ever-increasing demand for her goods.

After dropping out of school and suffering at the hands of an abusive husband, she chose not to stay down but rose from her ashes and created her new future. She inspires her community to the point that most women in the area come to her to learn about her sacred secret to success.

Yes, “What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” -Napoleon Hill


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