In an effort to ensure that girls are able to learn and are safe, children are protected and that there is child rights and governance, a local organization in Neno has embarked on a "Girl Return to School" program.
The organization, Community Action for Sustainable Development with funding from NORAD through Save the Children International, is engaging twenty marginalized girls, teen mothers, and those on the verge of dropping out of school around Chikonde Education Zone, to sensitize them on the benefits of returning and remaining in school.
CASDO programs coordinator Edwin Polera has told Zodiak today, Monday, during an interface with the girls and other duty bearers that they want to explore issues that hinder the girls from remaining in school and find solutions that are practical.
" Some of the issue these girls are raising include corporal punishment, forced marriages, defilement, child labour among others and we are giving them psychological support, referral pathways and educate them on how to prevent the pregnancies and understand the laws that protect them," said Polera.
He further added that most children do not understand the Child Protection and Justice Act of 2010 and the Marriage, Divorce and Relations Act which safeguard rights of children hence using the platform to educate both the children and the duty bearers.
One of the girls who faced defilement by her aunt's husband in Lilongwe, who we shall call Zione Indigo, says she met her face in 2020 when she was 15-years-old during the time the good samaritan promised to meet her education needs.
She told us in camera that the convict who is now passing his at Zomba Maximum prison forced her into sexual intercourse as a price for taking care of her school needs and clothes which her aunt could not afford.
She said that " I told my aunt about the advances which her husband was making but she said I better shut up to protect her marriage but when he succeeded I reported to Malata police and he was apprehended on Saturday".
Some relations wanted her to abort the pregnancy in order to beat Justice but her uncle refused the whole thinking leading to the prosecution of the convict after medical examinations at Kamuzu Central Hospital revealed that indeed she was defiled and impregnated.
Indigo, 18-years-old now and a teen mother with a baby boy, is in standard eight after being convinced by CASDO and other groups of interest to go back to school to continue with her studies.
" I am happy now that Justice was served and now am back at school, thanks to Neno hospital officials who helped to reshape my mental health. There's always a chance to go back to school my fellow girls," said Zione.
Both Neno district Adolescent and Youth Friendly Health Services coordinator Antony Moda Sandiyang'ane and his Social Welfare officer Underson Kasuluka say the children must not fear to access their offices for help and counseling saying all happen in total confidentiality.
Sandiyang'ane added that they provide social-psychological support to the survivors and also all forms of family planning methods to girls who are eligible to get one while encouraging total abstainance and use of condoms to those who can not.
The organization, CASDO which is implementing a Securing Children's Rights through Education and Protection (SCREP) is also working with the police, mother groups and others to ably promote children's rights and education.
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Last modified on Monday, 29/05/2023