Empowering Girls through School Clubs

The ECMP School based training for the new academic year opened with a two-day Phase 1 refresher training in Bure woreda of West Gojam.  FH invited back the club members - teachers and students together - who have been with the programme since last January, and it was good to see many familiar faces and a few new ones.  Participants give evidence on how their clubs were working to end child marriage.  They reported that in some schools there is now a joint movement between the school and community to stop child marriage and 17 arranged marriages were cancelled only in one school.  All club members had cascaded training to other clubs in the school. The school clubs were also aware of the CC groups in their communities but wanted FH to facilitate closer working between CC and school clubs. 

The Story of Mastewal Andargie

During the training, one of the brave girls presented her poem and testimony.  Her name is Mastewal Andargie and she is 14 years old. She is 7th grader at Tiya Tiya Primary school (one of the programme’s intensive schools) in Burie Woreda. Currently she is Chair for the Mini Media Club in her school. It was in January 2013 that for the first time she took part in a training organized by Finote Hiwot for school clubs. Since then she has been active in her school in cascading the training to other clubs in the school.

Mastewal’s Testimony

“The training helped me to build confidence and assertiveness. In my school we he have gathered all girls and trained them on child marriage, and in that I was able to build my confidence. Because I was trained along with my teachers, it helped me to be assertive and discuss issues boldly. It is also helpful for us to be trained with our teachers to stimulate ideas and engender different issues of child marriage. Previously I was very shy, usually bent down my neck and not able to see into the eye on a regular flag ceremony. It is after my involvement with FH and the school clubs training that I have done a drama show in my school. Due to this refresher training I have obtained additional knowledge. Today I have presented a poem for the training participants and my plan is to improve it more and it will be presented to the school community.”

A Poem by Mastewal

Oh! You pathetic infant

What wrong you have done to your parents

That they gave you to whom you don’t know and love

Your bone is not full-grown

Your body is not ripened 

Why have they then decided to give you to carry on a heavy load?

If it was only for auctioning you

Better they should not have born of you

He has won the auction and owned you as his property

Broken away your beauty

Your infantile flower  

Your immature body

Also he has broken away your wings

Now she can’t fly

Darkened is her bright future

Worsened her providence

Much more dreadful, she brought a new creature into this world,

While she is a baby herself

Her labour pains prolonged

The newborn did not come alive

With vain, they lamented

But they were not able to spare her life

Mr. Death arrived and took her away.

Separated her from her beloved ones for good

Oh! People listen to me cautiously

Why shouldn’t we stand together?

To do away with child marriage

And to save the lives of infant flowers!