Word Alive Commission for Relief and Development

Word Alive Commission for Relief and Development (Word Alive) is part of Word Alive Ministries International Church in Lilongwe, Malawi. E3 is partnering with Word Alive to equip 306 girls at Mitundu Primary School to develop the skills that motivate them to focus on school and avoid early marriage. The target is to enable 95% of them to stay at school this year.

Led by Petros Abbas, the project provides practical, emotional and spiritual support for Grade 6, 7 and 8 female pupils who are over-age for their Grade. They are more likely to drop out of school due to late entry, repetition of Grades, lack of support from parents and responsibilities at home. The drop-out rate has improved in the last two years, but this year Word Alive will also start to tackle the economic needs of families so girls are not forced to leave school, as well as child protection issues. 40% of the target girls are experiencing some form of child abuse and most cases go unreported.

E3’s partnership helps fund:

  • Weekly “Girl Power Clubs” and an annual conference with input from positive role models who came from a similar background and escaped the cycle of poverty.
  • Mentoring from female Christian university students who meet with the girls regularly to share the Gospel, encourage and support them.
  • Skills and entrepreneurship training for parents, most of whom live in extreme poverty and some are widows. Through the training they will be able to provide for their children and their young girls will not be at risk of prostitution.
  • Train 10 women to sew sanitary pads and provide them to more than 500 girls so they don’t have to miss school each month. More than three-quarters of school girls cannot afford to buy sanitary pads in this community today.
  • Engage pastors in child protection so they become change agents in their churches and take their rightful positions to protect children from violence, abuse, exploitation, neglect and the impact of HIV and AIDS.
  • Support groups for the girls and their parents, which will include Bible studies and Life Skills.
  • Budget: £6,000

“My parents couldn’t afford to buy me sanitary pads … I used old wrappers or clothes. One time I had to tear up my bed sheets … Menstruation was the hardest part of my life because I was never allowed to miss school. I was often very uncomfortable and ended up with sores on my thighs. Many girls today choose to be absent from school to avoid embarrassment, ridicule and bullying from the boys. Sometimes they get infections, which may be because of poor hygiene. Many parents in our community are illiterate themselves and don’t realise how important school is for their daughters.” A lady in rural Malawi