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Chitemalesa Secondary School girls ask for safe houses

SOME girls at Chitemalesa Secondary School, who are under the re-entry school policy, have appealed for safe houses to make their studies easy.

The girls have also appealed to the government to electrify the area as studying without power is challenging.

One of the girls, a 19-year-old grade 11 pupil, says she got pregnant when she was in grade 10.

“When I become pregnant, I continued going to school until eight months when I went on maternity leave. My father is late and during this period, my mother was also sick and was referred to UTH where I had to be with her as well. She stayed in UTH for two months,” she said when the Forum for Africa Women Educationalists of Zambia (FAWEZA) in partnership with Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA) with support from Equality Now took journalists on a site visitation to Mazabuka, Luangwa and Rufunsa districts where they are implementing a two-year pilot project Access to Justice for Adolescent Girls in Zambia.

She lamented that the father to the child does not support her child.

She said she decided to go back to school following the reopening of schools closed due to the COVID 19 pandemic.

She says she pays for her school by cultivating maize and later selling it.

“There is no sweet without sweat. I used to cry that I want to go back to school. But we need safe houses here because where we come from is far and at home, there is no time to study. I use a torch to study but when there are no batteries then you are stuck. We are asking the government to help us by bringing electricity here and safe houses so that we can stay near the school and help each other when it comes to studying. Studying in groups helps a lot,” she says.

“I used to rent before but food was a problem so now I start off from home around 04, 05:00 so that I am in school by 7:30 but sometimes I find the first period has ended, so we really need a safe house.”

Another girl, 20, a grade 10, says she was married for two years.

“I was impregnated by my fellow classmate. I was 15 years old. My parents took me to the guy’s place. I stayed there for two years but life was not good there. He used to beat me and come home drank so that is how I left and went back to my parents. I stayed for five years without going to school after that. I used to feel bad until I decided to start selling chikanda to pay for my school,” she says.

“I got a kaloba (loan) for K500 but I am supposed to pay back K750 so I pay back K25 every day. My profit is the transport I use to come to school every day. I stay in Chinyunyu and I get on a bus every day which is challenging as well. I don’t know where the father of my child is and I don’t care.”

She says she was motivated to return to school after seeing her friends who had passed and finished school were able to take care of themselves.

She said she wants to be independent and be able to take care of herself and child.

She advised her fellow girls who may still be at home with their children to go back to school as they still have a chance.

“We want electricity here so that we can study properly in the night. I want to complete school so that I can make a certificate. I have managed to get back to school and like me they still have a chance. You see sometimes it’s poverty that makes us have these boyfriends because you want lotion but for me it was just childish manners, I have grown now. There are some groups that came and told us about HIV and AIDS and also to abstain or use condoms.”

Another girl, a 19-year-old grade 10 pupil, says it is difficult to study when one has a child and also when there is no electricity.

She says safe houses would really help them learn better.

She advises girls not to get pregnant while at school because there are a lot of problems that come with that.

“Sometimes you miss class because the child is sick and when you take the child to the clinic, you miss class and you also can’t concentrate when your child is sick. When the one who is helping you look after your child is sick or has other programmes, you have to miss school and stay with your child. This is a lot of work,” she says.

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