In 2005, AGE Africa’s Founder Xanthe Scharff was in Malawi as a graduate student intern attached to CARE. While in Malawi Xanthe wrote an article for The Christian Science Monitor about a local woman and her daughter who was not attending school because the family could not afford the $156 a year that the local secondary school cost or the required uniforms, books, and supplies (“What it’s like to live on $1 a day”, July 2005).
Readers of the article were so moved by the story that they sent donations to support the young woman’s education. The first AGE Africa scholarship fund was enough to support all six of the village girls who had qualified for secondary school. These first six young women pursued their education despite tremendous pressure to leave school and get married.
Since 2005, AGE Africa has worked in a variety of school environments providing scholarships to girls. Over the years we have learned that scholarships alone are not enough to ensure that the most impoverished young women in Malawi reach the academic finish line. We now support students from many rural villages across Malawi at seven partner schools with a combination of scholarships, life skills education, leadership training and career guidance. What began as a vision for the futures of six young women from a single village has grown into a vision for girls nationwide.
“I need a bright future, I mean a really bright one. One that can shine on all others. I want people to know from me, that even a village girl can achieve something very great.” –Polina (right), ’10, current university student