“I could have been married, if not for the Careers Clubs.”
Miriam, 18, cannot stop smiling.
Her dream of reaching 12th Grade, the third year of secondary education is being realized. For her, this is a great turn around.
Just two years ago, Miriam and her five siblings couldn’t attend school because no one could sponsor their education. They lived in Macha, a rural and remote community, short of opportunities.
Trying to make a living.
In mid-2018, Miriam’s mother, a small scale farmer stopped going to the farm in order to take care of Miriam’s sick father. As her father’s health worsened, no one could provide for the family, as her mother continued to be busy nursing Miriam’s father.
In an attempt to survive, Miriam and her siblings worked in the hot sun, pulling weeds, planting seeds and watering plants in other people’s gardens. For their labor, Miriam and her siblings were paid very little.
The food was not enough for us. Sometimes we took some of our meals without relish (without vegetables).Miriam
Miriam had dreamed of pursuing higher education and becoming a doctor. However, her current situation made it very difficult for her to continue with her education. Eventually, she was forced to drop out of school.
Miriam’s mother encouraged her to get married with the hopes that they could become financially stable if she married a rich man. In order to prevent this and keep her dreams alive, Miriam started working as a housemaid in a nearby town; Choma, a central business district in Southern Province.
Returning to school.
After working for a year, Miriam decided to return to school. She would use her savings from her job as school fees. Unfortunately, her savings could only pay for her first term. This meant dropping out of school again.
Her drive to save for school and zeal to learn inspired her headteacher to help Mirriam to continue her studies in school. She decided to introduce Miriam to the Careers Club at her school in-order to help broaden and nurture her entrepreneurial skills.
The Career Clubs experience.
The Career Clubs are part of an initiative on the Zambian Girls 2030 project which aims to give teenage girls training in life skills and financial literacy, and a broader vision for their careers. The project is funded by UNICEF and jointly implemented by Restless Development Zambia and the Ministry of General Education.
In the Career Clubs, I learnt about how I could use my skills to earn income. I learnt about financial literacy and how I can utilize my talent. I started with plating hair for my schoolmates after classes for a small fee.Miriam
From school mates she went on to plaiting her teacher’s hair. This eventually led, to many community members reaching out to her to have their hair plaited.
Starting a small business.
From this small initiative, Miriam decided to venture into a small business; she turned her home into a small hair salon where she attends to her customers. On weekends and after classes, she is always busy plaiting hair.
I now pay school fees and cater for my school needs from the money I earn here.Miriam
If I had gotten married, my dreams of becoming a doctor would have been shattered. But now I continue to have my dream of becoming a doctor and running my own hair salon business.Miriam
For Miriam, the Career Clubs at her school offered a lifeline and made her realize her potential.
More about the Zambian Girls 2030 Project.
Zambian Girls 2030 aims to increase the number of girls attending and completing their secondary education. At the same time, we support girls’ career aspirations and help them to make informed decisions about their sexual health.
We run weekly career and skills clubs in schools to help girls take control of their lives by safely navigating the issues that most commonly lead to them dropping out.
These clubs cover issues such as Sexual and Reproductive Health (enabling young girls to make informed decisions around their sexual health), financial literacy and livelihoods (equipping them with the basic skills required to set up an enterprise), and career guidance and counseling (enabling them to identify and achieve their career aspirations).
We also facilitate a two-week Career Internship Programme. Young girls are helped skill build through these internships. They are also encouraged to create connections in industries they have identified as potential career paths.