A ray of hope through parental support in adolescent girls’ access to HIV prevention and sexual and reproductive health services   A ray of hope through parental support in adolescent girls’ access to HIV prevention and sexual and reproductive health services

“I did not go far with my education because I was married off when I got pregnant while I was in primary school. I do not want the same thing to happen to my daughter. My wish is to see her complete tertiary education and realise her dream of becoming nurse,” says Liviness Mbewe who is a mother to 18-year-old Precious from Nsanama in Machinga district.

Liviness, now a mother of three, had always wanted to be a banker but her dream was shattered in 2003 when she got pregnant, and her parents married her off to a man who impregnated her. She got married at the age of 16, and life was not easy since the couple had no means of earning a living.

“We would go to bed on empty stomachs because we had no means of putting food on the table. My life was full of regrets. If I had access to family planning services, I am sure I would not have had an unplanned pregnancy and I could have realized my dream of becoming a banker.” She explains.

Although Liviness is uneducated, she has big dreams for her daughter, Precious. Liviness says she wants Precious to finish school and attain her dream job. As such, she offers full support to her daughter in different aspects of her life, such as helping her in making informed decisions to access HIV prevention and SRH services. 

Precious now in form three at Mangani Community Day Secondary School, is a member of Miracle DREAMS club under Nsanama Health Facility. She joined the DREAMS club in 2020 when she was 16 years old. At the club, she learns about different topics surrounding HIV prevention, sexual and reproductive health, and gender-based violence. In addition to the information sessions, the DREAMS clubs create an opportunity for Precious and her peers to access different services like HIV testing and family planning from the USAID funded Expanding Malawi HIV/AIDS Prevention with Local Organizations Working for an Effective Epidemic Response (EMPOWER), right in their community.

Picture of Liviness
Liviness says she has big dreams for her daughter. (Photo credit: FHI 360 - Chikondi Lunduka)

Malawi EMPOWER uses the outreach clinic model of integrated SRH/HIV service delivery, targeting Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) in DREAMS clubs. The project through its trained outreach teams takes clinical services to the communities where the AGYW live.

“I access contraceptive pills from Malawi EMPOWER so that I do not get pregnant before finishing school. In addition, I am currently accessing PrEP as an HIV prevention method after EMPOWER provided me with comprehensive information on benefits of PrEP. Malawi EMPOWER’s Youth Community Based Distribution Agent (YCBDA) referred and escorted me to Nsanama Health Centre to access PrEP. Since then, the YCBDA escorts me to the facility when time for a refill is due.”

Precious collecting PrEP
Precious collects PrEP from a service provider at Nsanama Health Facility. (Photo credit: FHI 360 - David MatIya)

Precious sayss that when she told her mother about the services Malawi EMPOWER was providing to the AGYW in the clubs, she (the mother) encouraged her to access the services because she was aware Precious was having a sexual relationship.

 “My mother was particularly impressed when I disclosed to her that I was I taking PrEP to prevent HIV because she understood I had lowered my chances of contracting HIV. Since then, she reminds me to take PrEP daily.

Precious’ mother says she encourages her fellow mothers to be open with their children and guide them accordingly on HIV and SRH services, so that they prevent unplanned pregnancies as well as HIV.

“I get sad when I see some of Precious’ friends dropping out of school because they are pregnant. Therefore, I decided to counsel my friends to let their daughters attend club sessions and access HIV and SRH services, when necessary,” narrates Liviness.

To help young girls like Precious live a healthy life and realize their dreams, a consortium comprising of FHI 360, Pakachere and CHAM is implementing a five-year (5th March 2020 to 4th March 2025) USAID funded EMPOWER Activity. The goal of Malawi EMPOWER Activity is to support the Government of Malawi (GoM)’s commitment to epidemic control by stopping HIV transmission and preventing new HIV infections among AGYW of 10–24 years of age, in Machinga and Zomba districts.

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