Village Banks Empowering Youths Financially in Balaka
Hadijah Witness from Traditional Authority (T/A) Kalembo is 24 and a member of Madzi Oyera Youth Club in Balaka that runs a village bank to help young people fend for their school needs and run small businesses that can help them earn more.
“Most of the members are students and some are young but cannot afford to go to school. Every month we save and take loans. Some members use it to buy school items such as notebooks and pens, while others sell flitters or vegetables to earn more,” said Witness.
She further said “we also discuss issues to do with Sexual Reproductive Health, Gender-Based Violence and education. I dropped out of school when I was 16 and had a baby. Since joining the club, am now thinking of going back to school.”
And Ishmael Lyson a member of Sinthano Youth Club under T/A Amidu is another youth, through the village bank he has managed to pay examination fees.
"This year I will sit for my Junior Certificate of Education. My parents failed to raise funds for examination fees but through a loan from the village bank, I will write the examination," he said.
However, despite encouraging the youths to embrace village savings and loans, Lyson said they are also promoting sexual reproductive health rights amongst themselves.
"For youths to achieve goals, awareness on sexual reproductive health rights is key. We need to protect each other from barriers along our way such as teen pregnancies and teen marriages," he added.
These clubs are part of the "Her Future Her Choice" project Oxfam in Malawi, CAVWOC, and FPAM are implementing.
Khumbolane Nyirenda is CAVWOC Project Officer in Balaka and said access to the right information relating to sexual reproductive health has proved effective in reducing incidences of teen pregnancies and marriages.
"Young people between 10 -24 years are mostly victims when it comes to teen marriages and teen pregnancies. This happens as they are not financially stable besides lacking information on sexual reproductive health rights," she said.
Nyirenda said through the initiative, they are breaking that cycle to make sure that youths are economically empowered as well access youth-friendly health services.
The project funded by Global Affairs Canada works with the youth to Increase access to Sexual Reproductive Health services.
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