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In 2013 Project Luangwa started a ‘pilot project’ Girls’ Club at Mfuwe Day Secondary School for the girls under our school sponsorship scheme. Three years later we now have three clubs at the school and will soon create more clubs at outlying rural primary schools.  We have seen how girls in our clubs develope increased self-esteem, confidence and a proactive approach to life rather than an attitude of waiting for something to happen to them. They are more comfortable talking about personal issues, reporting abuse and understand how important it is to support each other. Many tell us they feel more in control of their lives and feel in a better position to make choices about marriage, schools, careers and sex as well as more empowered to say ‘No’ when propositioned by boys, members of the extended family or adults in authority. 
 
Club members have mixed and varied backgrounds; some have a child of their own, others have experienced abuse or rape or violence, or have a parent who abuses alcohol.  Others are just 'ordinary' girls struggling to make sense of their changing bodies and feelings whilst trying to balance their traditional culture beliefs and treatment with the pressures to conform to a more modern society.  They are all bright, intelligent, caring girls who want to achieve their potential. And they all deserve a chance. 
 
At club meetings we give girls the space to chat, voice their opinion and ask questions. Most meetings are all about increasing self-esteem and confidence. Our activities are varied and include self-empowerment exercises, talking to role models, catting about our hopes, fears and feelings, looking at post-school possibilities and oppertunities such as college or learning new craft and technical skills - but sometimes we just spend time having fun too. 
 
Sara Life Skills
Some sessions start by reading a chapter of one of the Sara Life Skills books in which the difficult issues faced by African girls are woven into entertaining plots. The books inspire discussions where girls learn about how to cope with difficult situations. 
 
Poetry, drama and film
Our club members are very proactive and some girls have talents for writing poetry on difficult subjects, such as rape or early marriage.  They perform this poetry as a group, once before several hundred people including Government Ministers. (see links at the bottom of the page to read their poetry.
 
Club members create their own short plays or skits to teach others and love to visit other schools to perform. 
 
We also encourage girls to express themselves through film. Generally girls do most of the work themselves (directing, camera and sound work and so on). In 2014 two girls chose to tell their stories:
 
Video Short (4.46 min) Sharons' story
Video short (3.33 min) Elisa'a story 
 
Who runs the clubs? 
Our girls clubs are run by Fwilane Banda, a qualified social worker who works for us full time. She was born in Chipata and understands local culture.
 
 
Discreet counselling 
Over 25% of club members have experienced abuse and an important part of the club is to provide a discreet, safe haven where they can confide to someone in times of trouble. Fwilane offers counselling to the girls as well as to local women with a varied diversity of problems. 
 
What next?
During 2016 we will be building our own club house, with an office for Fwilane and a safe place where girls and women can talk. From this building we will expand to form satallite clubs at other schools. But to do this we need funds and resources.  Have a look at how you can help here.
 
See what boys in Mfuwe think about girls
 
Project Luangwa 
Girls' Club
Menstrual Hygiene Management 

 

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