Malawi: One Community project
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That’s how far some girls in Zimbabwe have to walk every day in order to go to school. For many, this long journey is simply too dangerous. Along the way, girls endure sexual harassment, and sometimes the harassment escalates into something worse. If they want to avoid the long walk, some girls resort to “bush boarding,” leaving their homes to stay in places like empty office spaces or storage sheds that are closer to school.
But living in such dangerous spaces during their teenage years means that girls don’t have critical adult supervision, either to keep them safe or to provide mentorship and advice. They are alone.
The Graduation Project is working with girls to construct safe and inclusive dormitories so they can stay enrolled in school and build their futures. These buildings are designed in part by the girls themselves through Plan’s unique GirlEngage approach, which involves girls in the project from designing and implementing activities to giving feedback during evaluations. One of the most important requests made by the girls during our initial conversations was to have female security guards at the dorms.
The project also trains girls on skills they believe are necessary to achieve their goals, like decision-making and self-esteem. They also learn about their sexual and reproductive health and rights so they can make informed decisions about their bodies.
In partnership with Purdue University, the girls in the project also learn engineering skills so they can design, test and implement a water recycling system for their dorms — something they identified as needed for school sanitation.
Other adults in the community participate in child protection committees organized by the project, and teachers receive training on gender-responsive education so all children receive the same quality education. Meanwhile, male secondary school students learn about gender equality and ways to support their female peers.
Join us in creating safe learning environments with girls so they can stay in school through graduation and build their own futures.
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