“We heard your daughter on the radio!” Young women leading coronavirus action in rural Zambia

By Tisyenji Ngoma, CAMFED Association District Chair, Kasama, Zambia

Girls in my community are at even greater risk of child marriage as food insecurity and financial insecurity increases during COVID-19. Photo: Eliza Powell/CAMFED

We called the parents to inform them that once a week, we will continue to provide life skills and well-being lessons to girls.

After schools in my District closed on March 20th, we connected with Teacher Mentors (specially trained teachers that look after the most disadvantaged girls) at CAMFED partner schools to help us get in touch with the parents of girls we have been supporting as ‘Learner Guides.’ We informed them that once a week, we will continue to lead the My Better World life skills curriculum as we did before school closed.

A life and well-being skills session delivered by a fellow Learner Guide in Kasama District at the end of April.

“We heard your daughter on the radio!”

And right now I am speaking to radio stations to see if we can get a cheap slot to start a regular radio program for more children and their parents, so they can listen to My Better World lessons at home. The radio stations already know us “Learner Guides” — they know we support children at risk. On the 27th of April I was invited to speak on a program “Natulande” (“Let’s speak”) on Radio Mano Kasama, addressing child protection because of the danger of child neglect as a result of school closures. The next day, I was invited back onto their news program to speak about COVID-19 and how it spreads; how important it is that children don’t roam; and that people are required to wear face masks when going out. Importantly, I spoke about the risk of child marriage. We want children and their families to be alert and aware of the consequences of child marriage. We are looking at their wellbeing, their future, to make sure it is secured. My mum was so proud — members of the community came up to her and said, “We heard your daughter on the radio!”

In communities that don’t have access to a radio, this is how my colleagues like Susan (above) and I share important health information.

We break down the myths that are spreading — for example, that drunkards can’t get coronavirus because spirits kill it.

We are providing face masks locally, and two CAMFED Association members, Chilombo Nachilima and Memory Bwalya, are selling them at the barriers between districts, for example. Many people from rural areas have no electricity and no radio, so they do not know they have to wear masks. This is an opportunity for young women to earn some income, which many have lost because business is down or they can’t go to work. It is also an opportunity to share important health information, and break down the myths that are spreading.

Me helping to break down myths in my community.
Me in front of my shop. Every customer has to wear a mask and wash their hands before entering.

We catalyze the power of the most vulnerable girls and young women to create the future they imagine — for themselves, for their communities, and for Africa.

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