GENET mentors 200 girls

GENET mentors 200 girls

By Dyna Mtalimanja Banda

Girls Empowerment Network (GENET) has graduated 200 mentees from Dzoole B, who are among the 1500 to be graduated in Dowa, for their completion of mentorship in Safe Space Initiative implemented by the organisation in the district.

Safe Space Initiative is a program under which girls are empowered and learn about harmful norms and gender- based violence among other things.

During the graduation at Tchawale Community Ground in Mponela, Dowa on Friday, GENET Programs and Spotlight Coordinator, Twambilire Kayuni, said they have 1500 targeted graduands in the district from five traditional authorities.

“About 1500 girls have been mentored in their various safe spaces. Now, they are graduating after being taught many things, including being a sister’s keeper to other young girls who can look up to them [for assistance].
“When it comes to cases of gender-based violence, (GBV) they can help the young girls with a way forward,” she said.

Kayuni further explained that the rolling out of these mentees does not mean an end to the program, but that another set of 1500 mentees will be enrolled into the program.

Dowa District Social Welfare Officer (DSWO), Jonathan Bonongwe, commended GENET and Spotlight for enlightening the girls and advised the graduates that their graduation meant they were now empowered to advise young ladies.

“The fight against GBV is still on but there is light at the end of the tunnel. We are supposed to find the root cause of this behaviour if we are to get rid of the vice.

“Everyone needs to lend a hand to leaders and law makers, peers of these graduates and other stakeholders,” said Bonongwe.

He further said the graduation should mark a point of change, not only in the lives of these girls, but also lives of others.

The District Social Welfare Officer, therefore, asked chiefs in the district to take a leading role in finding a lasting solution to the problem.

One of the girls who had been saved from a violent and abusive child marriage through the Spotlight Safe Space Initiative, Catherine Zekiel, said she was grateful to the project for she now believed she has a future after being mentored.

“As a married teen, I faced a lot of challenges. My ex-husband beat me and poured acid on my clothes, which I reported to one of the mentors who then advised me accordingly, but I chose to go back to my marriage and history repeated itself,” she said.
“I went back to the mentor and this time, after being advised, I chose to get out of the abusive marriage.

“Now, I have a business and I can support my child,” she said happily as her friends danced along, hugging her and encouraging her.
The graduation ceremony was adorned with songs, testimonies from the girls, drama and dances among other activities.
GENET Spotlight Safe Space activities are implemented in five traditional authorities in the district and so far, T.A.s Mponela and Dzoole have been graduated while traditional authorities Chiwere, Msakambewa and Mkukula will be graduated afterwards.

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