Mentor mothers prevent child labor
ARISE Malawi implements a community-based afterschool program as part of their strategy to keep children out of child labor. Activities include playing games, participating in theater performances, dancing, and poetry exercises. They also benefit from mentoring and life skills lessons led by the ARISE mother mentors.
Flossy Thawani is a mother mentor in the village of Wanyemba, Malawi. She believes that children need support and guidance to remain in school. She is highly competent in knitting, sewing, and embroidery. Through the ARISE program, Flossy and other mothers have been trained on mentoring and the organization of child-friendly and gender-sensitive activities. ARISE procured needlecraft materials and distributed them for use by children during the afterschool activities. Flossy and her fellow mother mentors started teaching needlecraft skills to the girls and boys from her community.
“I know that children are the future for my community,” Flossy said. “Before afterschool activities were available, most children would go and work in tobacco fields after school ― they had nothing else to do. But now the situation is different. Children come to our afterschool activities and are no longer involved in child labor…” Speaking of the needlecraft she teaches, she observed, “The children are so keen to learn the skills. We managed to knit three caps, which we then sold. We are now knitting more caps and cloth décor for chairs, which we are also going to sell. We got an order from one of the teachers at Kapalamula School as well as from the other community members to make caps and other items for them.”
The money obtained from the sale of the caps created during the afterschool activities was used to buy additional materials, such as cloth, knitting wool, and embroidery thread as well as balls for sports and games. Some boys who previously shunned needlecraft activities ― thinking they are only for girls ― now enjoy embroidery and knitting as well as other school activities. The academic performance of most of the children who attend afterschool activities has also improved.
ARISE afterschool programming also includes child-led advocacy clubs and gardening activities as a means of engaging children in safe and healthy alternatives to child labor.