The moderate from Malawi had to drop out of school and got pregnant by a man who promised to take care of her. But he took no responsibility for their child and she was left alone. With the support of the Yes I Do project, Modester has been given the opportunity to continue learning and build an independent future. She now has her own tailor shop!
Unfortunately, more girls in Malawi are finding themselves in a situation like Modester. They can no longer go to school or have to marry early to secure their future. The gender gap is large, especially when it comes to economic justice and political participation (World Economic Forum, 2021). The goal of the Yes I Do project is to create equal opportunities for girls and boys.
We fight child marriage, female circumcision and teenage pregnancy, among other things, by informing young people about their sexuality and rights. In addition, they learn the skills necessary to become economically independent, so that they can shape their future and make their own decisions. Many of the program participants tell their stories and show that change is possible!
Read more about Yes I do here!
Fashion Star (25)
When Modester contacted the Yes I Do project, she had the opportunity to continue learning. She attended professional sewing and fashion design education and received a starter package at the end to start her own sewing project. Determined to provide a stable home situation for her son, she started her own tailoring business and soon earned enough to support herself and her son.
Modester has since expanded its business. She now earns enough to send her son to school. In the future, she would like to open her own clothing store. She encourages the girls around her to look forward, despite all the difficult circumstances they may face. “I want girls to know that there is never a reason to rush into marriage or enter into a relationship with a man who comes your way. Sometimes you don’t dare pursue your goals because of it, but it’s never too late to change your situation.”
Rebecca also learned fashion design and tailoring with the support of Yes I Do. In 2018, I actually participated in group discussions with Plan International, where I learned important life skills and built a lot of self-confidence. She learned about the negative effects of child marriage and teenage pregnancy and decided that she wanted to be an independent woman before marriage.
I decided to train other girls in my community so that they would be as independent as me.
And I did. After completing her sewing courses, Plan International gave her a sewing machine so that she, too, could start her own business. At first she made clothes for her friends and family, but this soon became more. Now she is asked to make bridal and school uniforms and buys the clothes herself to sell again in her shop.
Rebecca doesn’t just do it for herself. “I decided to educate other girls in my community so that they would be independent just like me.” In her studio, Rebecca has so far given free sewing training to two other young women. She has since hired one of them and hopes to be able to buy more sewing machines soon. This way she can educate more girls and help them become independent.
Like Modester, Eliza had to drop out of school at a young age. Her colleagues continued to learn, but she was not able to catch up. Through Yes I Do, she had the opportunity to pursue sewing training and put her life back on track. She had another goal and a future in mind.
At the end of her sewing training, she also received the things needed to start her own business. It has succeeded. Despite her suffering during the Corona pandemic, her work provided enough income to support her family. She is happy with self-sufficiency and independence and looks to the future. Before getting married, you want to wait until you are older. “Early marriage is no longer necessary, because I can support myself.”
Cosmas is the president of the youth club in his community. During group meetings, they discuss topics such as child marriage, HIV/AIDS, teen pregnancy and goal setting. When the Yes I Do project started in his community in 2018, they reached out to youth clubs to reach out to young people who would like to get vocational training. Cosmas wanted to study welding and metalworking, a subject he excelled in.
When Cosmas finished his training, he got a milling and drilling machine and in January 2020 his dream came true. He opened his own store and made great strides. He managed to buy machines for his shop, including a welding machine. And when he received more and more orders, he hired a young man to work with him. He also provides free welding training to other young people in his community.
Whatever your background, you can really achieve something!
It certainly wasn’t always easy for Cosmas. His father died shortly after opening his shop. This meant that Cosmas immediately assumed responsibility for providing for the family. Fortunately, his own company paid off enough. With the money he earned, he takes care of his mother and pays school fees for his brothers in high school. He also managed to build a new house, including electricity, in which he now lives with his family. His advice to other young people is not to lose faith in yourself. “Whatever your background, you can really achieve something! I am an example of that.”
The Yes I Do program was completed in 2021 with good results. For example, 80,000 young people (10-24 years old) have participated in sexual and reproductive health training, the number of child marriages has decreased in the areas in which we operate, and the minimum age for marriage has been raised in many countries.
In 2021-2025, Plan International will implement a follow-up project: Liberation! We do this in nine African countries with SAT and FAWE. We strive to promote the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people and promote gender equality, with the goal of combating child marriage and teenage pregnancy. Young activists are central to this. settle down with Support civil society organizations to improve education, welfare, social recognition and legislation!