Education, a Sweet Perfume

Loness Mwale is 23 years old and lives in the Zilambirana Village in the Kasungu District of Malawi. In this region, cultural beliefs regarding the value of education have historically meant that young girls are robbed of their right to learn – an issue Loness directly faced as a child until she received a scholarship from CARE.

“Life in the Zilambirana Village was not good at all, and coming from a family of eight children with my father a mere village farmer and a housewife mother, I started life from a very disadvantaged position,” Loness shared.  

“I have grown up an orphan. My mother died when I was nine, and my father died in 2010 while I was in form one,” Loness paused and looked away as she wiped tears from her eyes. “I am sharing my story because of its happy ending. From the way I look now, can you say I am an orphan? I was tempted to get married to escape from the harsh reality of poverty, but the CARE scholarship came at the right time,” she said with a smile.

Loness attended Santhe Secondary School and later went on to receive her two year certificate in teaching at Loudon Teachers Training College from 2014 to 2016, all under a CARE scholarship.

“I am a mentor now and a role model. It was through the same role modelling and mentorship program I attended in 2010 that helped me to appreciate the value of education and start believing in my capabilities,” Loness explained.

She continued, “As I said, I am the only person in my family to go that far with education, but being the fifth born, I have managed to influence my younger sister Bertha to work hard in school and encourage my brother Noel.”

After her parents died and Loness received a scholarship, she began working to support her younger siblings in paying their school fees by getting small jobs during school holidays.

“I started supporting my siblings when I started attending the CARE role modelling seminaries. I learned I could save money and use it for their education needs.”

For Loness and many others, the inclusion of assertiveness training and Q&A sessions is helping to shape the minds of young girls by giving them time to talk with other women who can serve as role models.

“Education is a sweet perfume. If I was not educated, I could not be accepted to come and live with these relatives of my late mother here in town. I could have been a burden, but now I am at a verge of being independent once I find a job,” Loness concluded.