As term two comes to an end here in Malawi, many students are ready for the two-week holiday from school before getting back to revision and preparing for the upcoming exams. Many of us around the world become very excited for school holidays, because this usually means endless days playing with friends, relaxing and having free time. Unfortunately for many young girls in Malawi, and throughout Africa, this isn’t the case. Typically, young girls have less free time to do as they please since adhering to household responsibilities is the norm. Gender stereotypes mean that women and girls are expected to do all of the household chores which can often be strenuous, time consuming and bad for health.
It’s often the case that once the holidays come around, boys tend to play football, chat with friends and have time available to study and revise. However, girls are left to ensure a cooking fire is ready, fetch water, care for younger siblings and cook or clean, to name just a few. This is a recurring problem throughout Malawi and Africa as a whole. Simple things which many of us may take for granted, like a day at the beach, a leisurely walk or having free time are out of reach of many young girls in our catchment area. It is our aim to attempt to tackle the gender inequalities that are evident in Malawi, by providing a safe space and open place for girls to come together, discuss experiences, ask questions and provide peer support for one another. This blog brings exciting news about what the Junior and Senior Girls Clubs have been getting up to during this holiday.
Girls Club Make an Easter Trip
This Easter holidays, D2D was able to provide a full day trip out to Thunduzi Beach, a 30-minute drive away from our offices. As mentioned, girls have very few opportunities to kick back and relax together in a friendly and safe environment. D2D recognizes that everybody needs a break sometime, and today, that’s what it’s all about! With over 70 girls aged 10-19, we piled into the truck armed with snacks and games, ready to take over the beach.
On arrival, we took to the shore of lake Malawi and played all day long. Some of the games included a long jump competition (with Sakuya being the winner every time!), football, netball, duck-duck-goose and tag. Whilst the girls let off some energy, our project officers got to work cooking up potato salad by the bucket load! The braai smelt great with wafts of pork and chicken stirring up excitement. After a hearty lunch, some soft drinks and snacks on the side, it was time for a swim. Games of water netball, splash fights and swimming races ensued for the rest of the afternoon.
The excursion to the beach was a break from the Club’s usual activities, and was a great time for the girls to not only kick back and relax after a term of school, but also to bond with each other. As the day came to a close and the air became cooler, it was time to make our way back after a great day. The girls displayed this by beautifully singing together the whole journey home.
D2D ‘Supports’ Local Girls Through Distributing 110 Donated Bras
Many families in our catchment area have difficulty purchasing basic necessities such as soap, sanitary products or even underwear. This means that a number of growing young girls are unable to afford to buy a bra or even pants. D2D recently welcomed a new visitor to our site during Easter, in the form of our Program Officer Ellie’s mother, Claire Beel. Claire asked us here at D2D if we might need anything that she could bring for us, to avoid having to pay anything for shipping costs. Underwear garments are often seen as a status symbol and can offer some degree of security, in that women who can afford a bra tend to be seen as having someone who cares for them, perhaps a husband, father or even a brother. They may be seen as less vulnerable because of this and could be less likely a victim of sexual attack or abuse. So, a small idea turned into a big project and before we knew it, Claire arrived with 110 donated bras of all shapes and sizes, ready to distribute to all the female sponsored youth whom are part of Senior Girls Club.
Having a bra alleviates strain to a girl’s back caused by the weight of breasts. However, bras are not only important to the health of young girls, but also to their self-esteem (some girls have one single bra that they wear every day, meaning it can break and become unhygienic quickly). Such a simple piece of underwear can play a significant role in the pride and confidence with which a young woman carries herself. During the fitting it became obvious that many girls were unsure which way up the bra is worn! After some re-jiggling and lots of giggles we managed to kit everyone out with a new bra or two and very big smiles.
D2D would like to extend a big yewo chomene (thank you very much) to Claire for organizing this donation and bringing it all the way to Malawi. As well as this, a special thank you to the people of Newquay, Cornwall, UK, whom kindly came together to collect 110 bras to support our sponsored youth!
Tawonga chomene (We thank you)!