My name is Prudence Chavula and I come from Malawi. Growing up in a community that doesn’t support girls education has taught me to value education as the only thing that can empower and transform a female’s life.
I consider myself an agent of change, committed to the regeneration of my community and addressing the needs of my community. I am passionate about promoting education for all, especially among women and to reduce inequalities, prevent HIV transmission, end child marriages and reduce unplanned pregnancies. With that in mind, I do a number of philanthropic activities in my community.
One of the things I enjoy doing most is carrying out sexual and reproductive health talks in schools and villages. In my village, a number of girls drop out of school because they get pregnant. So I talk with them about contraceptives to help them in the future. The cases of unplanned pregnancies are on the rise in my society because young girls go out with ‘blessers’ who offer them financial support in exchange for sex.
I also love to have career talks with students in schools. Students in my area lack positive role models and I hope to be able to inspire them to help them make healthy choices for their future. Considering that I am at the university, lots of students feel motivated when I visit them. Most people have the mindset that the duty of girls is to do household chores and get married. There’s also the tendency of sending boys to South Africa to search for greener pasture hence most boys don’t go far with education. This act makes the people to see no benefit in education.
I am also bringing in an impact in the sanitation and promotion of girls education through my reusable sanitary pads project. Modern pads are only found in urban areas and are very expensive. Girls and women tend to use strips of ‘chitenje’ fabric, local cloth, when menstruating which can easily leaks and produce a bad smell. Many girls fear coming to school when menstruating and worry about being teased. Often the girls miss many days in a row which affects their performance in school. This works against the idea of keeping girls in schools. I am advocating for cheap and long lasting reusable pads which are also friendly to the environment. So far I have managed to train trainers in my district who are in turn training students and women in villages to expand our reach.
My hope is to be a strong activist for women. My efforts are small but I believe the little things I am doing are contributing to the little things many others are doing too, hence creating something big. After all, it’s the little things we do that matter the most.
Prudence Chavula, Malawi
Watipa Scholar 2016
First year student in Public Administration, University of Malawi