Tuesday, January 13, 2015

WMC project brings hope to teen mothers

By Elias Banda
Esther Petulo stood near her house and cursed the day she was born. She wondered why she was introduced to this hopeless and horrible world where there is no love, a world where she would go to bed without food for several days and nobody seemed to care. Esther faced her demise when  her husband abandoned her with her newly born bay. The only close relative was her uncle who passed away a few months earlier. She was found HIV positive during antenatal checkups when she was pregnant. She looked at her baby and shed tears because all her hopes were shattered.
Esther sited right with club members, the project has brought smiles back on their faces
This is the plight of the 19 year Esther who hails from Sabola Village in Traditional Authority Juma in Mulanje District of Southern Malawi. Esther narrated that when her parents died 6 years earlier she was left under the care of her uncle who supported her until she reached form 2. When her uncle died, Esther’s future hanged in limbo and she became vulnerable as no one within her family network was capable of supporting her. Just like what many girls do in her community, marriage became the only option left for her survival.
Esther is harboring big dreams -to become a nurse
She got married to a young man in her village but after two years into marriage Esther was shocked to discover that her husband had several other women. It took several months for her to recover from this shock and when she inquired about her husband’s infidelity, he reacted by abandoning her and married in the other village. This was her critical moment in her life as she recalled that it was even better for her to die and escape all the life hurdles she would go through. She imagined how life would be for her to stand on her own with a fatherless child. After weighing several survival options, she put up a brave face and decided to face the challenges head on.
Esther caounselling fellow teen mother and village members
In October 2014 a glimmer of hope was cast when Esther, together with her peers joined the Teenage Mothers Group introduced by ADRA Malawi through the When Mother is a Child (WMC) project.  What motivated Esther to join the group was   the direct link between her situation and the goals and objectives of the project. She saw herself reaping more benefits from her participation in the project activities including efforts to go back to school and skills how to cope with challenges facing teenage mothers in her community. In November 2014 Esther was elected chairperson of Tikondane Teenage Mothers Group, comprising 20 members. Group members meet on weekly rotational basis to discuss issues affecting teenage mothers and find solutions.  Her group has since mobilized and reached out to 167 teenage mothers between October and December 2014, encouraging them to go back to school and helping them how to cope with challenges teenage mothers face.  She said that plans are in the pipeline to reach out to more than 500 teenage mothers between January and December 2015.. She also said there were hundreds of teenage mothers who have since been abandoned by their husbands and were going through problems to cope with life. She said her group is geared to reach out to all such girls and bring hope of a better future for them.
 Meanwhile, Esther said she would like to go back to school in form 2 and continue where she left before she got married.  She said when she completes her high school, she would go for nursing course. She said that nothing would come on her way to stop her from achieving her goal. She thanked ADRA Malawi through WMC project for this wonderful project that has revived her hopes for a better tomorrow. “Not all is lost I can now see my bright future” Esther said.  The WMC project has since established  15 teen mothers groups.

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