“It is Possible to Achieve Our Goals”

My Name is Alinafe Raphoyo; I am 17 years old. I come from Lupiya Village, TA Njema in Mulanje District.

I am the fourth born in a family of six children.  My parents are farmers and all of my older siblings left school to work on the tea estate where they farm. I have to help my parents with farming whenever I am on a break from school. There are times when our harvest is so little that my family can’t sell enough to pay my school fees and support my two younger brothers.

I am the first person in my family to get to secondary school. A lot of people in my village and family ask how I think it is ok to continue school when my older brothers and sisters left school and went to work. I am asked what I hope to achieve by staying on in school and studying hard. At 17, most of my friends are married and have children but I look at how unhappy their lives have become and I don’t want to live like that. I know I have a bright future and I can live comfortably in the future if I work hard and stay in school.

When I got selected to Mulanje Secondary School, I was very worried because I knew my parents would not afford the fees. My father used our neighbor’s phone call the school to ask how much the fee was. When he finished speaking to the Mulanje Secondary School’s Headmaster, I knew I was not going to that school. My father said it was very expensive and he couldn’t afford to send me. When school started, my father asked my older brother to get a transfer letter for me, so I could start learning at a Community Day Secondary School which is cheaper and closer to home. When my brother got there, the Headmaster at the local community school asked him to bring me to school.

I arrived at the school and the Headmaster introduced me to AGE Africa and the support they provide for girls like me. AGE Africa provided me a scholarship to attend Mulanje Secondary School where I am now in my second year.

I am still in school because of the support of AGE Africa. They cover my school fees and provide me with all the school supplies I need to stay in school. On top of that, they have taught me how to be confident, to have a clear goal and ambition, and to be a leader through the CHATS afterschool programming. I know my strengths and weaknesses and I also know how my body functions unlike other girls in my community. Through CHATS, I have learned that after finishing secondary school I can become an entrepreneur and that is what I want to do when I graduate.

When people ask me why I am still in school, I tell them that I am still in school to be a role model to young girls going to school in my village and to demonstrate that, while it is difficult, it is possible to achieve our goals.

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