By Kondwani Magombo-Malawi News Agency
Malawi First Lady, Madame Monica Chakwera, has challenged Mangochi young girls who dropped out of school for one reason or another that all is not lost and that they can pick it up from where they left it and prosper.
The First Lady challenged the young women – most of them teenagers – at Chikoko Bay State Lodge on Thursday where she hosted and engaged the teen mothers and school dropouts into a motivational talk.
Madame Chakwera said she is aware of the different circumstances that forced the girls to drop out of school but she challenged them that there is still a chance for them to go back to school and make it big.
“You just need to have the will and make up your mind; the rest will follow,” said the First Lady, before she shared her own experience as a school girl.
“I grew up in a typical village set-up in Mwazisi, Rumphi, and it wasn’t easy for my parents to raise up enough money for our education,” she said, and continued: “Luckily, my father had grown a lot of fruits and I had to take the fruits to the bus depot to sell and raise money for school fees among other things.”
The First Lady further said when she was at Likuni Girls Secondary School in Lilongwe, sometimes she could not make it back to Rumphi when schools closed and that instead, she had to stay with Catholic Sisters at the campus.
Earlier, the First Lady introduced Dr. Queen Dube, Head of Department of Pediatrics at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, who also motivated the teen mothers and school dropouts with her own touching real life story.
Dube, who until at the age 12 knew no serious life struggles, said she found herself, mother and siblings in the village away from the comfort of one of Lilongwe’s low density locations, Area 12, when her father got arrested on “political grounds”.
The Head of Pediatrics Department explained what she went through and how she kept herself focused to achieve her goal.
“It was the worst time in my life and I had all the justifiable reasons to drop out of school but I did not,” said Dube, and she added: “All you have to do is to have a dream and pursue that dream until you achieve it: all the obstacles and potholes you find on the way should in no way stop you from pursuing your dream.”
The teen mothers and school dropouts had earlier presented their challenges and what forced them out of school.
Most of the girls’ challenges revolved around extreme poverty, parental influence for the girls to get married, and lack of motivation to remain in school.
One of the teen mothers, Naomi Gama, 19, said she dropped out of school due to lack of fees and that she, together with her siblings, now help her elderly parents in fending for the family of 10.
Gama, who dropped out in Form 2 at Nankhwali Community Day secondary School, said the First Lady’s and Dr. Dube’s motivation talks have inspired her and that she would want to find herself in class come January.
“I really want to go back to school: like the First Lady and Dr, Dube have said that first, we need to have the will: I have it and I pray that someone should come to my rescue and help me out with school fees,” she explained.
Meanwhile, the First Lady has said there will be a special scheme to help out “willing” teen mothers and school dropouts go back to school and that those preferring small scale businesses to sustain their livelihoods will also be assisted.
Mangochi district was in the headlines when over 7,000 teen pregnancies were reported to have been recorded between January and June amid the Covid-19 school break.