Living with a total stranger who was kind enough to take her in, Fatsireni Wyson feels lucky to be in school, believing it is the only key to unlock her dream of becoming a doctor or an accountant.
At 18 and in Form Three at Zingwangwa Secondary School, she is one of the beneficiaries of an international organisation-Against All Odds Still Standing (AOS)- and she appreciates the school fees, uniform, writing materials, soap and other things.
“My mother lives in the village in Thyolo and would never afford to pay my fees and all the other school necessities. I live in Zingwangwa Township with a total stranger, but my dream is to be the one girl in my family that gets educated. All the girls in my family left school, but I will work hard and complete my studies,” said Fatsireni in a telephone interview on Wednesday.
She is just one of the many girls and women benefiting from AOS.
Zingwangwa Secondary School head teacher Steve Kungala, who has been working with AOS for four years now, says they have a number of projects.
“AOS pays school fees for needy students, provides school uniforms, sanitary pads and other items just to ensure that they stay in school. They also provide mountain bikes for those that would otherwise walk long distances to get to school. A lot of students have benefited,” he said.
AOS is an international organisation empowering women and girls affected by gender based violence (GBV) and those who have experienced early marriages.
They are also working with the child marriage terminator, Chief Tereza Kachindamoto.
“We met our first 10 students in Dedza where we hope to build Against All Odds Secondary School. We have been given land in Ntcheu where we plan to build our women and girls empowerment centre.
“We aim at rebuilding lives, restoring hope and dignity. We do this by providing education to the women and girls, social development and health solutions” said Fikelephi Jackson, the founder of the organisation.
With presence in the south, central and northern regions, the organisation works with 20 women in Bereu, Chikwawa; 25 in Ntcheu and 15 others in Lilongwe. They are also working with female students at Chisu Secondary School in Nkhatabay, Bwabwali Secondary School in Chikwawa, Namikasi and Zingwangwa secondary schools in Blantyre.
“Over 500 hundred women and girls have been reached by the organisation in the past five years. We have been well received by the chiefs, head teachers and students in schools, heads of communities and by the Government of Malawi. We treasure the support of warmth we have received,” said Jackson.
She added: “We take it as a privilege to serve these wonderful people in Malawi. Statistics show Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, but AOS believes different. We say Malawi is the warm heart of Africa and is, yet, to take her place in the market place once the people realise how great they are. We also believe that as Africans in the diaspora, we should unite to make Africa a better place where our children at 10 years should be in school not on the street selling their body or being married.” n