Chongoni in Dedza district, central Malawi is known for its Rock Art and cultural history. Here, at the foot of Chongoni mountain is Namoni Katengeza Training Centre. On a sunny October morning, several religious leaders from the Church of Central African Presbyterian (CCAP) Nkhoma Synod are gathered at the centre for a child protection workshop.
Its thirteen degrees Celsius in the commercial city of Blantyre. Winter is taking its toll on the city and the hills are covered in fog. Yet the streets still are filled with people moving about, trying to make money to make ends meet. In the north-east of the city lies Ndirande township mosque. Muslims in the area put their business on hold for midday Friday prayers. Sheikh Ahmad Chienda begins Friday prayers by speaking about child marriage
Father Kadzingo, 37 is a priest and youth chaplain for the Roman Catholic Dedza diocese. In the past, youth chaplains used to be older men, but now the church is appointing younger priests who can better relate to adolescents. Perhaps because of his age, Father Kadzingo is passionate about youth issues and his enthusiasm is infectious. He smiles broadly and laughs as he chats outside Ntcheu Parish Church, with a new Chichewa translation of the Bible in his hands.
TA Bwanyambi is the Head Chief for Chowe, a large area of Mangochi District, covering 33 villages. She sits outside her house, which together with a brick mosque, sits in a dramatic location beneath a craggy mountain. Standing beside her with a broad smile is 18-year-old Edna, a girl she has saved from child marriage.
Grace (not her real name) is a shy 19-year-old adolescent. She sits under the shade of a tree, with a baby boy sleeping in a chitenge on her back. Grace lives in Luwinga, one of the biggest towns in Mzuzu, where a lot of working people stay. She is the third born in a family of four. Her father died in 2010, leaving her mother to fend for the family.
It’s a hot and sunny afternoon when Chief Kapoloma visits the home of teenage Fatima and her mother in Aisa village, Machinga district. He strides across the baked earth of a dried-out river bed, wearing a traditional robe and circular hat over smart shirt and trousers. The area is predominantly Muslim and there is a small brick mosque among the houses, adorned with a white star and crescent on the minaret. A cockerel calls out from a straw enclosure behind one of the mud brick houses.
On a Sunday morning in Dedza district, Reverend Fastele Banda takes to the podium of a large church. He starts talking, his voice becoming more animated as he holds forth on a subject that he is passionate about: ending child marriage.
Eliza studies at home. She was offered for marriage at the age of 14 © UNICEF Malawi/2017/Eldson Chagara By Joseph Scott, UNICEF Malawi Mangochi, a lakeshore district in the eastern part of Malawi, is one of the country’s top tourist hot spots. The vast expanse of mountain ranges, intersected by flat grasslands and the imposing … Continue reading ‘I don’t want to be that girl’: hunger forces parents to marry off young girls