"Passing on the kindness is transforming communities in Malawi."

Empowering Dreams: Tamara’s Triumph Over Adversity

Tamara Safari’s journey to education began with hurdles.

Coming from Chimbiya village in the area of Traditional Authority (T/A) Njema, Mulanje, she faced an early setback in 2014 after writing her Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) exams, as she did not achieve the results she expected. The grades she received were not sufficient to apply to public universities.

Being an orphan and no one to support her return to school, she got married at the age of 20, eventually becoming a mother of three.

“When a man promised to marry me, I accepted. Unfortunately, after bearing him three children, he began treating me badly, subjecting me to all sorts of abuse,” she said.

“I used to tell my husband that I wanted to go back to school, but his response was that I should choose between marriage and school. I gathered the courage and divorced him.”

However, her desire for education persisted despite the challenges of married life. Thanks to the support of Othakarhaka- Passing on the kindness (OTK), Tamara seized the opportunity to return to school.

“Though I was married to him, my desire was to get back to school. However, there was no one who could afford to pay my school fees. I shared my story with OTK, and they allowed me to use their computers for reading at their library (Boombox).”

After reading tirelessly and never attend a classroom, Tamara wrote MSCE in 2020 at Trinity Private Secondary School, and it was like a dream come true when she achieved an impressive 13 points in the MSCE.

She recalled: “I was almost brought to tears when I saw my name as the best performer at the school. Honestly speaking, it was no small achievement for me, and it has motivated many girls who know my past in the community I come from.”

Today, Tamara stands as a beacon of hope and determination, pursuing her dreams as a second-year Honors student in Telecommunication and Electronic Engineering at the Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences (MUBAS).

“I never envisioned this journey, but I am grateful to OTK and its sponsors,” Tamara reflects. “I have become a role model in my village, defying the odds stacked against me.”

Tamara’s story is just one among many. OTK has been instrumental in helping girls access a free computer library at their office and rescuing girls from early marriages. The organization is also empowering girls to realize their full potential.

Some parents treat their daughters as commodities to fulfill their own needs

OTK Executive Director Ida Puliwa underscores the importance of their mission, emphasizing that not all girls enter into marriage willingly; some are coerced due to poverty.

“Some parents treat their daughters as commodities to fulfill their own needs,” Puliwa laments. “But girls deserve the chance to receive an education and build a future for themselves.”

Puliwa added that through their annual girls’ camps, they now recognize that illiteracy and entrenched beliefs are fueling early marriages in the district, and as an organization, they are taking all measures to reduce this trend.

“We are working with volunteers, mother groups, and local leaders to help girls continue with their education. We are also providing bicycles to rescue girls from walking long distances to school, which forces some of them to quit school.”

Tamara with OTK Executive Director

According to Puliwa, girls who are supported by OTK, whether in secondary or tertiary education, receive bursaries.

“We have many good examples of girls who turn things around; many are in various public universities pursuing different programs ranging from engineering, nursing, education, law, just among others.”

Senior Chief Mkanda commended OTK for changing story of Tamara and other countless girls in the district adding that the combined efforts of chiefs, religious leaders, and non-governmental organizations are key to ending child marriages in the country.

As Tamara continues her academic journey, she serves as a testament to the transformative power of education and the unwavering support of organizations like OTK.

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Passing on the kindness is transforming communities in Malawi.

Othakarhaka Foundation
Chitakale-Phalombe road near Chambe Secondary school P.O Box 150, Mulanje, Malawi
Call: +265881 15 35 13
Email: info@othakarhakafoundation.mw

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