These girls, between the ages of 14 and 21, began engaging in sex to earn money for their family’s survival. Some of the girls shared stories of how they got started in transactional sex. Here’s one story, shared by M.T.:
I made losses in sales one day. I made a few big doughnuts and charged the usual price of MK50 (USD$0.07) each. I wanted to sell my goods fast and go home to play with friends. After selling all the doughnuts, I realized there was a loss of MK400.00 (USD$0.55). I need to bring home at least MK2,500 (USD$3.43), but I only made MK2,100 (USD$2.88). I knew that my mother would be angry. She depended on me to bring home enough money so that she could buy food to cook. I shared my story with a friend, who told me not to worry because she had a solution. She arranged for a man who promised her money for sex to sleep with me instead of her. We went to a rest house in the market where he had sex with me and gave me MK1,000 (USD$1.37). My friend encouraged me to accept men for sex each time I needed money.
There were many external circumstances that influenced the girls to be involved in transactional sex. Many of the girls were not aware of the risks associated with transactional sex.
All the girls we talked with said they started to engage in transactional sex because they needed money. Most of them were the primary breadwinners in their families, and their families depended on their income for food and other supplies. There were many external circumstances that influenced the girls to be involved in transactional sex. Many of the girls were not aware of the risks associated with transactional sex. Through girls groups and discussions with older mentors and peer educators, the girls are now more informed, and many want to return to school and not engage in transactional sex. However, because of the drought last year and the lack of casual labor available, many girls could not find a way to stop engaging in transactional sex because their family situations were even more desperate than before.
A few months ago, a group of older women and female pastors from Word Alive Ministries in Blantyre, Malawi decided to volunteer with this project. They went into the community to teach baking and cooking to 25 girls. The women not only shared their skills but also encouraged the girls. The girls not only learned about new things they could bake and sell, but they also enjoyed interacting with the older women.
Now the girls can make delicious food to sell in the market (see doughnuts featured above!).
It is also encouraging to know that the older women learned of a need that is only a 30-minute drive away from their own community, and they found a way to support the girls who are struggling. These women are using their talents and skills to care for vulnerable girls.
Please pray that caring people can build more of these “bridges” and that the church can continue to think of creative ways to be in relationship with and to serve people who are vulnerable. Pray that the church can use their skills, talents, and time to build Christ’s kin.
World Renew Malawi