Psychosocial Support Vital to Teen Mothers - REPSSI, YCWAM
The Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI) says consistent provision of psycho-social support to the majority of rural adolescent mothers can encourage them to have a deeper analysis of how to improve their lives.
Speaking during a review meeting in Blantyre on Saturday, REPSSI Country Representative, George Alufandika, said young mothers need to be made aware of their potential of getting back to school and be productive citizens.
Alufandika thinks the interventions being conducted in Blantyre and Machinga targeting adolescent mothers and their children will assist to empower the young mothers.
“Young mothers face a lot of challenges in different parts of Malawi and they need to be provided with psychosocial support to stand firm and focus on the future.
“It is pleasing that through the project, children of adolescent mothers have also been accessing early childhood development services,” said Alufandika.
Alice Bwanausi from Young Christian Women Association of Malawi (YCWAM) explained that apart from providing psychosocial support, adolescent mothers were also provided with training on leadership, positive parenting, income generating activities and village savings and loans.
“We also gave them soft loans to run small scale businesses. Most girls are doing well,” explained Bwanausi.
A 20-year old Halima Rashid, a mother of one from Moses village under Traditional Authority Chamba in Machinga has commended REPSSI and YCWAM for imparting her with various skills and a soft loan.
“I am currently running a honey business. I go and buy honey and sell it within my area. I now have a profit of K50, 000. I am now in a position to take care of my one-year old child,” said Rashid.
But authorities in Machinga including the Early Childhood development coordinator, Agnes Kaunjika Nthanthiwa say they are still struggling to end child marriages.
“We are very concerned with the increase of child marriages in the district. Girls are being married as young as 12 years. We attribute such challenges to cultural beliefs like initiation ceremonies,” complained Nthanthiwa.
REPSSI and YCWAM are implementing a Malawi early childhood initiative for children of adolescent mothers targeting Blantyre and Machinga districts.
Minister of Gender, Community Development and Welfare Patricia Kaliati admits that teen pregnancies and child marriages have been long time challenges in Malawi.
She agrees that apart from bad cultural beliefs, the Covid 19 pandemic and the cyclones that caused havoc in most parts of the southern region fueled the situation.
“The assessment we conducted recorded 44, 000 child marriages and 13, 000 teen pregnancies. This made us roll out an awareness campaign targeting chiefs and other community leaders to protect the girl child,” said Kaliati.
Minister Kaliati added that the government is also enforcing laws by arresting culprits that abuse girls, implementing the social protection programs and encouraging girls that dropped out to get back to school.