The youth at Mtwalo in Mzimba had an opportunity on Friday to interact with gospel musician Ethel Kamwendo-Banda who motivated them to stay in school and avoid early pregnancies and marriages.
The songbird, who revealed to have been abused at a tender age herself, said the longer girls stay in school the better in preventing early marriages and pregnancies.
Kamwendo-Banda was in the area, where she also performed some of her songs, courtesy of Girls Empowerment Network’s (Genet) access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) programme.
The organisation held an awareness meeting to mark the end of 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence.
“It’s important to empower girls at a tender age with sexual and reproductive health messages to grow as knowledgeable individuals. An individual learns better when still young,” said Kamwendo-Banda.
She said she has been abused both as an adult and a child, but has never been discouraged by such abuses to abandon her desire for singing.
“I have been labelled with various names but I never allowed that to discourage me in any way. Today, people have embraced my music to the point of amassing various awards and honorary degrees.
“What is needed for our girls is that when they have a vision and talent we should nurture them rather than discouraging them,” she said.
Genet programme manager Tamara Mhango said their organisation targets girls and other vulnerable groups to educate them about their rights in SRH and education.
“We are using role models in reaching out to the youth because we believe that modelling is a powerful tool in motivating girls.
“The models are individuals who have gone through the same life our girls are going through, and they sailed to be where they are today. If we bring such individuals to them will help motivate someone to remain in school,” said Mhango. n