March 28, 2015 – All Church Gathering (Braii)
As a church we got together to spend the afternoon sharing food and spending time together. We had a great time! You can check out the pictures of the event on our facebook page! Join us the next time we braii…the chicken was awesome.
March 22, 2015 – First Let Girls Be Girls Twitter Hangout
Our Let Girls Be Girls Campaign is still going strong. With the Marriage Bill passed last month, we are capitalizing on the excitement to remind people that ending child marriage requires more than just legislation. One way that we are doing this is through social media. We held the first ever Let Girls Be Girls Twitter Hangout. A Twitter Hangout is where a question is posed by a “host”, who in our case was Flood Malawi, and then other people can respond, sharing their ideas and forming discussions within the larger conversation. Our first prompt was “Our girls need role models. What do they need to see modeled?” We had a lot of interesting responses touching on the need for confidence, commitment to education, creativity and innovation, self-respect, resilience and healthy relationships with men. I’m really pleased with how our first hangout went. We will be holding these every 2nd and 4th Sundays in the evening.
We are also continuing to use Facebook to promote further protection and empowerment of Malawi’s girls. Beyond the Bill is a photo and interview series we created by talking to thirteen Members of Parliament about why they voted to raise the marriage age and what other issues girls in their constituency face. We will posting these interviews every month. Here is the Beyond the Bill interview for March:
Meet the Honourable Richard Banda, MP for Dowa East and Chairperson for the Committee for Social and Community Affairs.
Why did you support the raising of the marriage age? “I supported this because early marriage is rampant in Malawi and there was no legal framework to protect young girls. This allows them to make proper decisions on whether they want to go into marriage or not. At 16, we felt that was a very small age. They needed to grow up so they can one, concentrate on their education and two, make their own decision on their sexual and reproductive health.”
What issues is the girl child in your constituency facing that must be addressed with action beyond legislation? “The Marriage Bill is just a tool, it’s not ending everything, it’s just supporting. We still have challenges. A very big issue is access to primary and secondary school. We have so many young girls failing to access secondary school. Another issue is the number of girls living under dire poverty and because of this we need to empower their families so they can send their young girls to school. We must continually bring awareness to these communities. Another thing is gender based violence. The school environment is not safe in Malawi. There is sexual abuse and if that continues, girls will not access basic education. We still have a long way to go, but we feel the bill will be a tool for us as parliamentarians to advocate for more funds allocated to these young girls.”
Social media is widely popular with young people across Malawi so we are excited for these ways that we can engage and educate people for the sake of girls.
October 11, 2014 – International Day of the Girl Child
International Day of the Girl Child is an observance day created by the United Nations in support of increased opportunity for girls and more awareness of inequality faced by girls around the world based on their gender. This inequality includes areas such as education, nutrition, legal rights, medical care, protection from discrimination, violence and child marriage. This day is especially important to me this year as Flood Church is in the middle of the Let Girls Be Girls campaign to raise awareness about child marriage and early pregnancy in Malawi. Being a girl is not easy in many countries, especially in Malawi which unfortunately has the 8th highest rate of child marriage in the world. For many, being a girl brings upon them a level of abuse, violence and deprivation that you’d think it was a crime. The real crimes of forced marriage, rape and discrimination go unreported and unpenalized far too often. In observance of this special day, here are some videos you can watch to educate yourself on the issue of child marriage:
July 6, 2014 – Ufulu Festival
On July 6, Malawi celebrated its 50th anniversary of independence from the British. Being that there are no free public celebrations of independence day around the city, Flood decided to put on an event highlighting Malawian performers and artists. We called it Ufulu Festival, as ufulu is the Chichewa word for freedom. To be honest, this festival was not an easy task and we encountered a lot of set backs in the planning process, so much so that we nearly considered cancelling the whole thing about 2 weeks before Independence Day. We are so glad we stuck with it though because the festival ended up being a huge success! We had over 300 people gathered at one time, with countless others coming and going and the lineup of poets, dancers, artists and musicians brought great energy and creativity.
We are planning on making Ufulu Festival an annual event and it feels great to have had our first one go so well. None of us could believe how many people attended and how much fun the event was, as we had some doubts after how rocky the planning phase was. The morning of the festival, a stage we had reserved weeks in advance was supposed to be dropped off, but in true Malawi style, there was a problem and it nearly didn’t make it. With only 20 minutes to go before start time, a big truck rolled in with the stage loaded and we were so relieved! Our friend Chifundo told us that “this is Malawi, this is how it always goes and it always works out.” A good reminder that we are never as in control as we think we are, it’s all in God’s hand.