Monday, September 7, 2009

Mary, an icon of hope in Waruma Village

Author: Andyiesa Mahango - Women Empowerment Project Manager

Mary Majoni 25, of Waruma Village could not believe that she is now able to read, write and count figures.
Married with four children and expecting a fifth child, Mary has never been to school because she had to look after her mother who was sick persistently before she died 15 years ago. She was the only girl in the family of four children and even if she attained school age, she was forced to cook and care for her sick mother. Her father left them when they were very young and they have never seen him since.
When her mother died, life became unbearable for her and her brothers. Her brothers dropped out of school and preferred casual labor for survival while Mary’s life miseries forced her to get married at the age of 16.
When the Women Empowerment Project came to Waruma Village and introduced adult literacy programs, Mary became one of the first five women to enroll. At the early stages, other women used to laugh at her apparently because adult literacy was a strange program and many thought it would not work for adults. But Mary paid no attention to the scoffs she got from her friends and concentrated on the program. A few months later, things began to change as she was now able to read and write. This became strange news to the whole village and people started to talk about it.
Strangely, the number of people enrolling for adult literacy class rose to 35 from 5 because of Mary’s testimonies.
Mary’s husband is happy too and said in an interview that he did not expect it happen to his wife. Mary uses the knowledge to assist her two children with school home work and helps her husband with their business plans. Mary said she has on several occasions tested for HIV with her husband and she encourages other to do the same. With her fifth pregnancy, Mary has never skipped HIV test at antenatal clinic and she encourages other women who shun antenatal clinic for fear of being tested to go for testing. The Malawi Government has embarked mandatory counseling and testing in a bid to reduce HIV mother to child transmission and Mary is fulfilling her responsibilities to inform others about the right to good health.
Mary however said that the sky was her limit as she intends to enroll into formal education and learn how to speak English and participate at higher levels of community activities. Her husband is a radio repair and they plant cassava seasonally for cash and for consumption. The project intends to link women like Mary to government lending institutions such as MARDEF for business loan. This is part of capacity building and economic empowerment.
This borehole is located few metres from Mary’s house and was made as an ADRA investment in partnership with the community. The provision of easily accessible water gives time to women like Mary to attend adult literacy programs.

1 comment:

April Hong said...

wow. hope there are a lot of "Mary" in every village