Christella is a 13-year-old girl who has been living in Dzaleka refugee camp in Malawi for almost three years. She is now attending school with support from JRS.
Christella is passionate about education and opportunities for girls such as herself. In Dzaleka she has joined Club Naweza, part of the Jesuit Refugee Service’s Naweza (Swahili for “I can”) Project. The project, created in partnership with the Fidel Goetz Foundation, is aimed at empowering refugee girls and increasing their access to quality education, security, and overall well-being. The Club’s activities have taught the young girls in Dzaleka valuable lessons such as standing up for their rights. “Malawi is doing a good job for girls,” Christella says. However, she believes that the task of opening up access to education, opportunities, and participation to young women should go beyond the work of organizations such as JRS. Families and communities need to take on this responsibility so that meaningful change for women can occur at every level of society.
Christella has proved herself to be a fierce advocate for education and hard work. She recently won a writing competition with an essay about three key issues that adversely affect the lives of girls and women in Malawi: child marriage, the denial of the right to further education, and sexual abuse. She wants centers set up where women and girls may learn more about their rights and have expressed the desire to set up a school for older women who never had the opportunity to complete their education.
“Girls should stick with education because it is important,” says Christella. “Many of our parents did not go to school; however, in this generation, if you don’t go to school, you don’t get a job. Girls should go to school.”