Good Little Company & RIPPLE Africa are Giving Girls a Future
The Malory Towers books were favourites with many girls growing up but can you really imagine what it’d be like to actually go to boarding school? Girls in Malawi welcome the opportunity as if they get offered a place at a boarding school they have a higher chance of finishing their secondary education. Many girls won’t even have the chance to finish their primary education because their family depends on them to help look after younger siblings or they’re needed to help with farming and other chores. They also regularly miss school because of a lack of sanitary products, and for those who do make it to secondary school, they have to excel and focus on their studies and ignore the distractions of boys as it’s not uncommon to be married and/or pregnant at a young age despite new Malawian laws which forbid marriage under the age of 18.
RIPPLE Africa is supporting girl’s education in a number of ways. In 2008 we started to build Kapanda Day Secondary School. The first phase of the project began with just a few classrooms but over time it has expanded and in 2016 we opened a girl’s dormitory and in 2017 a purpose-built kitchen. To keep the costs as low as possible for the girls living here, they have land on which to grow their own food. After clearing and preparing the land, the girls have planted crops and are now growing maize, sweet potato, beans and cassava. Once they are ready, the crops are harvested and then prepared in the kitchen by two cooks to ensure the girls have maximum time for lessons and after-school activities and studies. We also currently sponsor 44 girls at secondary school.
RIPPLE Africa is also focussing on other issues affecting girls and women through their Sexual Health and Family Planning project. The aim is to educate and empower both men and women on contraceptive options available to them, challenging myths that surround family planning and encouraging people to regularly get tested for HIV and STIs. The team will also be trialling menstrual cups with girls at school and women in the community. These are not only kinder to the environment but offer the potential to be a game-changer. Currently rural Malawian women and girls have to use large pieces of cloth during their period which is neither discreet nor reliable and often means that women sit at home for a week each month. The menstrual cup is discreet and allows women the freedom to continue their daily routine without disruption whether this is going to school or work, farming or doing household chores. The menstrual cup gives back not only their dignity but a week of their life each month.