Each year, Determined to Develop receives interns from the University of Livingstonia in Malawi, where our director Matt lectured for four years. This year we have seven interns working on our development programming. Six of these students are development studies majors and one is studying environmental management. D2D strongly believes in giving Malawian youth, who are the future leaders of this country, the on-the-ground experience necessary to catapult them into their development careers…and hopefully pick up some good practice from us along the way.
In this blog we want to introduce Atupele Ngonga and Telinah Kitalu, two final year Social Science and Development students, who are working hand in hand with students from the University of Dayton (USA) and D2D staff members.
Telinah: “I am currently interning with D2D by working on their girl’s empowerment project and research which has been really enjoyable. I have been working alongside a University of Dayton student Christine and my fellow intern Atupele and so far we have completed many interviews with female students (in primary and secondary school) and female drop outs.”
Atupele: “Our research project aims to improve D2Ds women’s empowerment cornerstone. We are conducting surveys in the local community focused on finding out the root causes, challenges and impact of the Malawian girl-child droping out of school in the Chilumba catchment area. We want to find out the deeper reasons behind why this happens. Some of our findings show that the challenges girls face are; lack of school fees, being forced to get married, lack of school materials (books, bags, uniforms) and insufficient classroom equipment and teachers.”
Telinah: “In order to address some of the issues we see for the Malawian girl-child we need to find out the hidden reasons as to why some become pregnant early and why some drop out of school. So far our research has been helpful and interesting to understand the issues the girls are facing. However, we have had some difficulties too! Many school drop outs live far away into the bush, which means we have to link in with local chiefs and schools to try and track down the girls. It takes a lot of time! Our findings so far show that harmful cultural beliefs, parents perception over girl’s education, distance from school, poverty and forced marriage are some of the reasons girls drop out of school in this catchment area.”
Atupele: “Apart from working on the research project, D2D has two Girls Clubs which we have been working with. I really enjoy the girls clubs because I have been learning more about the lessons and activities that help to empower girls in their day to day life. Telinah and I have been able to improve our planning skills by coming up with activities for the girls clubs for an 8 week period, which are now being used in the sessions’
Telinah: “I too enjoy teaching these clubs and sharing ideas with my fellow girls, and acting as a role model to them.”
Atupele: “This internship will help me to improve my planning, communication and working skills, especially on how to work with communities and liaise with community leaders. I am happy to work with D2D staff, my fellow students and the interns from UD. I have been pleased to work on the research project in particular since the findings will help me inform my dissertation paper, one of my graduation requirements for my degree.”
Telinah: “Overall, I have enjoyed taking part in the research project a lot. All of the staff have been great to work with and I have appreciated my support during my stay here. Working with D2D has helped me to gain a lot of experience which will help me in the future as I go on to work in development and social work. Now, I have experience on how to conduct surveys, completing office tasks, training girls on skills for better living standards and becoming a community liaison. With the knowledge I have gained from the University of Livingstonia and D2D, I would love to become a social worker after I graduate. Working hand in hand with communities will be my first priority and career ambition.”
Tawonga chomene (We thank you)!