Print this page
Afatsileni reviewing her notes at her grandmother’s house
Afatsileni reviewing her notes at her grandmother’s house Nandi Bwanali/ One Community

The Power of Local Solutions: One C Partners Local Communities Tackle Child Marriages

May 30 2018

Forty-two percent of Malawian girls are married before they are 18-years-old. This statistic places Malawi at 12 on the international ranking for child marriage prevalence (UNICEF State of the World’s Children Report, 2017). 

Poverty and entrenched cultural norms and practices are the key drivers for child marriage in the country. In February 2015, the Government of Malawi adopted the Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Bill which set the minimum of marriage at 18. However, there were some discrepancies with the bill given that the legal age of marriage was 15 (with parental consent) according to the country’s constitution.

 In February 2017, the constitution was amended to reflect changes in the bill making marriage before the age of 18 illegal. These constitutional amendments were the outcomes of efforts by child protection movements in the country. However, a lot of work remains to be done in rural communities where child marriages are still rampant. USAID, through its flagship Orphans and Vulnerable Children’s (OVC) program – One Community, is working with 53 community-based organizations (CBOs) in southern Malawi to prevent child marriages.

One Community tailors Community Based Organization (CBO) capacity strengthening activities to each organization’s needs. Capacity strengthening plans are developed after each CBO has self-assessed its strengths and weaknesses using tools developed by One C. The parameters assessed include capacity for governance and strategy development, financial management, administration and human resource management, project design and management, technical capacity, network and advocacy experience and capabilities, as well as community ownership and accountability.

Findings from the capacity self-assessments revealed several common organizational challenges among all of the CBOs. These included: lack of community-level HIV data, poor knowledge of national level policies, weak organizational structures, and lack of resource mobilization skills. As a result, One Community has trained CBOs in these areas. As part of these trainings, CBOs were trained in how to conduct Community Action sessions with community stakeholders as a way to share the knowledge they gained from the trainings as well as identify and prioritize community problems and develop community-led plans to address these problems. From these sessions, community members identified child marriage and school dropouts as the main problems in their communities – which has led One Community to provide additional support in these areas.

“Using this process, we uncovered why child marriages and school dropout cases are rampant in our community and, together, we found solutions that could be implemented by the CBO with assistance from taskforce members,” shares Damiano Kamba, Mchere CBO Chair.

Saving Lives 8

Addressing the problem of Child Marriages in Malawi


1. Alinafe’s Story


The future is bleak for 13-year-old Alinafe Katumbwe of Nkane Village, Mulanje. In February 2018, her mother married her off to a 30-year-old man from a neighboring village. Several community members were appalled by this arrangement and informed the area’s Child Protection Worker, Arnold Limited.

“I approached the household several times, the mother refused to terminate the marriage because her son-in-law is strong enough to till the lands for her and bring their household food,” Arnold Limited explains. “Alinafe’s husband moved into their house and reports of sexual abuse have reached me as the man loudly shares at local pubs about how Alinafe cries every time he touches her.”

Cases like Alinafe’s are very common in Nkane Village. In February 2017 alone, Arnold received ten new cases of child marriages. “I report the cases to the police and government social welfare offices. Sometimes they intervene, but sometimes, due to fuel restraints, nothing is done” Arnold concludes with saddened eyes.  Arnold brought Alinafe’s case to Malire CBO, a beneficiary of the One Community CBO Capacity Strengthening training. Alinafe and the CBO worked together to protect Alinafe.

“Various meetings were held with the household, however, the mother still refused to terminate the marriage. We informed the social welfare office of the matter and they then called the police. In May 2018 the man was arrested,” Arnold exclaims.

2. Afatsileni’s Story

IMG 20180224 104907 Bokeh

Twelve-year-old Afatsileni Mpakela from Chiwalo village in Phalombe faced a similar tragedy. Afatsileni lost her parents in 2011 when she was just 5-years-old. Since then, she has been raised by her mother’s sister. Growing up, life was not easy for Afatsileni. She received constant beatings from her aunt for trivial mistakes and was made to work harder than anyone in the household. Despite this, Afatsileni still hoped for a better future, dreaming of finishing school and becoming a nurse.

In January 2017, Afatsileni’s aunt abruptly told Afatsileni that she would no longer be able to go to school due to lack of “School Development Fund” money – A MK 400 ($.50) contribution made by every student every term for the development of the school – mostly infrastructural-related development. Afatsileni recalls what her aunt told her; “She told me to focus on helping around the house, she asked me to go to local bars to ask men for money.” Afatsileni refused to do her bidding and her refusal was met with scolding.

“In December 2017, I returned home from my chores to an ecstatic aunt. She gestured her hand towards 10 bars of soap and new clothes on the floor,” recalls Afatsileni with tears in her eyes. “[These were] a present from my newly found suitor -- a business man from Mozambique. I was very saddened by this; my future wasn’t worth more than a box of soap and some clothes [according to my aunt].” Afraid of her fate, Afatsileni fled from her aunt’s house to seek comfort from her grandmother in neighboring village 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) away.

“I was very shocked to see my grandchild come to me so frantically. She explained her burdens and I told her to make arrangements to go inform Dindi CBO representatives who had been working with One Community to protect children in the area,” shares Liney Rampwa, Afatsileni’s grandmother.

Hastily, Afatsileni brought her woes to Dindi CBO. Representatives present listened to her story and together they went back to her aunt’s house to gather further insight and determine what action to take in order to protect Afatsileni.

“Her aunt was not pleased with our visit. However, we informed her of government’s laws against child marriage and the many ways child marriage could negatively affect Afatsileni, such as challenging early pregnancies just to name a few,” explains Mofley Barton, Dindi CBO chair. “She was informed that Afatsileni would continue living with her grandmother as it was a safer environment. We also informed her that if she continued to push for Afatsileni’s marriage, the issue would be brought to the attention of the chief, who we now work with to fine child marriage perpetrators a hefty fine of MK 20,000 ($27).”

Afatsileni is now living with her grandmother and has since returned to school.

3. Dayisoni's Story

db


In the fight against child marriages, boys have not been left behind. For 17-year-old Dayisoni Bwana of Thumbulu Village, Phalombe, interventions from Chikondano CBO to end his marriage to 16-year-old Chaza Magunda were met with relief. “I was running away from problems in my mother’s home. We are 8 children in our family and it was getting more difficult for my mother to provide for us all. When I saw people in the area who were married, they seemed to have less problems so I decided to get married too.’’


Dayisoni married his school mate Chaza, and they both dropped out of school to start their life together. However, life wasn’t as easy as he had anticipated. He became a fisherman, fishing for small fish in Lake Chirwa. Unfortunately, Dayisoni’s returns were not many, as fish in the drying lake continue to be scarce. With an average earning of MK 2000 ($2.70) a day to split between his home and his mother’s home, he could barely make ends meet.


Chikondano CBO representatives approached Dayisoni and Chaza and their parents. The representatives communicated the illegality of the children’s marriages. They were asked to terminate the marriages before the matter went to the Chief where they would be required to pay fines.
“We have both returned to our parents’ homes. Chaza returned to school and I am saving money so that I do the same,” explains an elated Dayisoni, who further went on to pledge to not get married for the next five years.

“I was happy to have my daughter back, her father and I fought against this marriage because she was too young and full of potential to be more and better than what I became,” explains Mwadaine Japani, Chaza’s mother who sells donuts in the local market. “It was unfortunate that during our time education was not free. As such, we were forced to marry in search of a better life. But, Chaza has better opportunities than I did, and it broke my heart to see her waste them away.”

Community Bylaws Help to Enforce the Prohibition of Child Marriages and Ensure Children Return to School: Mchere and Njeza CBO’s Story

IMG 0522


CBOs supported by One Community in all districts work with traditional and faith-based leaders and law enforcement to form community taskforces with the mandate to prevent child marriages.


In Nsanama, Machinga district, traditional authorities working with the Mchere CBO taskforce have created bylaws to stop child marriages in the community and ensure that children in the area, especially girls, stay in or return to school.

“If a child drops out of school, we work with the chief to fine parents one chicken, upon the promise that the child will return to school. If the child does not return to school the fines are elevated. Cases of child marriage in the area carry a large fine of one goat and the chief works with the police to bring an end to the marriages,” shares Damiano Kamba, Mchere CBO Chair.


Since the bylaws were put in place in Nsanama, 35 children have gone back to school. Damiano hopes that the children’s return to school will ensure delays in their marriage and offer them the opportunity to better themselves and the community.

Returning children back to school is the first step. The second step is to help parents keep their children in school through activities that support uniforms, books and school development funds required every term. “The CBO committee contributes money to buy books and pens to assist these children, but this is not enough as members tap from their own pockets and they too are not well-to-do. As chiefs, we found land to farm various crops for sell so that the money can be used to help the most vulnerable children. Unfortunately, the weather has not been kind to our crops,” elaborates Chief Chiundu, Mchere taskforce member.


CBOs have also extended their work to focus on younger children in their community (specifically those 3- to 7-years-old) in order to offer better foundations for the children. Njeza CBO in Chikwawa is working with churches in its community to establish Child-Based Care Centres (CBCC), which cater to children in the area who cannot afford to go to private nursery schools. The children learn basics, such as numbers and the alphabet. They also get a chance to play with toys that stimulate their development. To date, they have opened 3 centres with a membership of 107 children.

The successes of the interventions continue to trickle in, children are being protected and are continuing with their education all because of community members who have been unwavering in their commitment to solving their own community problems.

Rate this item
(0 votes)

894 comments

  • Glennaaffop
    Comment Link Glennaaffop Monday, 13 July 2020 23:25

    [url=https://www.cleaning-master.com]House cleaning services[/url]
    Service Cleaning Staten Island was created in 2012 with a clear task: to perform a highly professional cleaning services in friendly manner that is not only which not just delights and satisfies all ours client! With deep cleaning, our employees cleansing elements refrigerator in the house . Competent employees "Cleaning Service" always ready decide varied problem, associated with guidance order. You always can call in "Cleaning Service" - our employees to the conscience cope with the work of any volume. Our Created Cleaning the holding located give you any help and solve this a problem! Our firm we carry out cleaning services(MAIDS DOWNTOWN) exclusively by means of eco-means, they absolutely safe and not even litter environment atmosphere. This the specialized company Williamsburg presents large set service on cleaning, you left only to choose the right, appropriate to you type of cleaning, and contact to our company for professional help. In our the company hourly work employee. This a highly large cleaning , that will leave your family hearth spotless . Regardless on , moving you or not Clean Master can be there to help to bring your personal old or new house exemplary appearance.We have involved only qualified masters, having the required practical experience. CLEANING MASTER Bococa apply excellent, not harmful detergents and scouring materials, reliable, professional and high quality equipment.Our organization provides services for cleaning - professional (industrial) cleaning. Cleaning famous company Clinton Hill- carries out production activity on cleaning.

  • cialis tadalafil
    Comment Link cialis tadalafil Sunday, 12 July 2020 21:44

    Sytdlo jynouu buy clomid where can i buy clomid

  • tadalafil generic
    Comment Link tadalafil generic Sunday, 12 July 2020 17:39

    Ziyygs lvixbd generic clomid clomid tablets

  • buy cialis online
    Comment Link buy cialis online Sunday, 12 July 2020 09:15

    Lvghsx nxqyad generic clomid clomiphene tablets

  • BeardenSwanvut
    Comment Link BeardenSwanvut Sunday, 12 July 2020 01:15

    seguro mdico cialis

    [url=https://ciasale20.com/]follow link very cheap cialis[/url]
    cialis online

    cialis merken

  • Kennethtog
    Comment Link Kennethtog Saturday, 11 July 2020 23:50

    Cleaning cottages or cottages is a very popular solution among proprietors of country houses. Preserving their tidiness is typically fairly troublesome as well as challenging, since it is a huge area of the properties and the bordering area, there are several washrooms and areas for different purposes. Self-care for a country house can be fairly tough, since the process calls for the schedule of really various house chemicals, tools and also takes a great deal of time.

    QUICKLY AND ALSO EFFECTIVELY
    We aim not to lose time, however at the same time do not rush to the hinderance of the outcome. Our team contains professionals of the highest degree in all areas.

    TRUTHFUL RATES WITHOUT SURPRISE SUPPLEMENTS

    Our rates are repaired as well as depend only on the area. We ensure the safety of the cost up to a dime.

    TIME PLAYS ROLE

    We appreciate the time and also recognize a great deal about the advantages. We agree on the phone as well as come quickly to clean.

    Firms currently have all the essential cleansing tools, cleaning products of European high quality as well as knowledgeable team who can easily deal with even the most hard discolorations. Prior to entering into a agreement, the manager and the customer establish the whole plan of services, whether it is just basic or thorough cleaning, whether added home window cleaning or upholstered furnishings is called for. Leave a demand, as well as our supervisor will certainly address concerns, trigger you on a set of services as well as compute the cost of cleansing absolutely free. We invite you to comply.

    In property cleaning services - perfect
    [url=https://maidsmanhattan.club/maid-service-nj/]Maid NJ[/url]
    - it's very easy, handy as well as cost effective along with our provider.
    Rely on the cleanliness innovators to property cleaning Brooklyn! Our company use professional laundry detergents as well as specialized tools of global makers in our job and perform an exceptional project with cleaning of any complication.

    [url=https://maidsmanhattan.club/][size=8]Good housekeeping magazine nyc[/size][/url]

    Teamwork along with the business is the sponsor of a remarkable, financially rewarding as well as reliable cleansing of qualified home cleaning and also surrounding areas. Currently, home cleaning services coming from our provider are actually utilized in New Jersey. Enjoy as well as you the actual perks and also functional perks of our organisation plan.

    By signing an irreversible solution contract with us, you are going to have the ability to abandon the need to keep a large staff of specialized workers, which, in turn, will optimize costs. The price of the complex, daily, overall residence cleansing of Staten Island, carried out through our staff members, will certainly consistently be actually lower than the expense of incomes for cleansers, the acquisition of cleansing items as well as devices.

    [size=6]Housekeeping in industries manhattan[/size]

    Leave behind a request on the web site, indicate your name or even provider label, get in touch with contact number and also time of desired cleaning, leave your dreams and needs in a notification to the supervisor if essential, at that point our professional is going to call you in the quickest time as well as specify the date, opportunity and place of work!

  • BeardenSwanvut
    Comment Link BeardenSwanvut Saturday, 11 July 2020 14:27

    bangkok wholesale cialis

    [url=https://ciasale20.com/]generic cialis[/url]
    comprar cialis espana

    cialis sale manila

  • BeardenSwanvut
    Comment Link BeardenSwanvut Saturday, 11 July 2020 13:30

    wow 5mg cialis samples

    [url=https://ciasale20.com/]precio cialis 5 mg[/url]
    priligy y cialis juntos

    discount brandname cialis

  • BeardenSwanvut
    Comment Link BeardenSwanvut Friday, 10 July 2020 18:37

    cialis 20 gramos

    [url=https://ciasale20.com/]generic cialis online[/url]
    cialis hta

    buy cialis buy

  • viagra online prescription free
    Comment Link viagra online prescription free Friday, 10 July 2020 16:15

    Hhnxvw hyufki buy clomiphene order clomiphene