In Lake Tanganyika, Zambia, girls as young as 12 can be married off to older men. When girls hit their early teens families pull the girls out of school and send them off to begin life as a wife. But one project is seeking to protect these girls and teach them valuable life skills
The Good News School first opened its doors in 2008 to a class of 20 preschool-aged children. Today, that initial group of students is in grade six, and the school has grown to include over 100 children.
As their students grew older, project staff looked at the girls in their school, many of whom are orphaned or have only one living parent, and wondered how to protect them from the pressures of the surrounding community.
The solution: a group just for the girls that would teach them useful skills, as well as help the girls discover their identity in Christ. The girls named the group The Pure Girls.
Learning new skills
The past two years, 20 girls from grade three and above have met twice a week. On Wednesdays they do Bible study and discuss relevant issues in their lives, like marriage, prayer, love and home situations. On Fridays the girls learn sewing, beading and cooking.
“We have seen that many of the girls are not so good with their school work,” explains Lorrin Kasale, who teaches grade six at the school and leads The Pure Girls. “So, if they drop out or finish grade seven, what then? We want them to be skilled so that even if they don’t finish school they will have something to do that will (help prevent) them from going into prostitution.”
The girls learn how to make small bags, doormats from old t-shirts and paper beads. Their products are all sold locally. The profits are then pooled and the girls can request small items like underwear, socks and lotion that might not otherwise be available to them.
In their homes, the girls are expected to act older than their years. However, at Lorrin’s house, where they meet for The Pure Girls, they are encouraged to be themselves. The girls share giggles and smiles as they work together. Lorrin says she has seen girls change through their involvement with The Pure Girls.
One girl, Kachelewa, had lost both her parents. Her father died before she was born, and last year her mother passed away. Kachelewa was devastated.
“It was difficult to help her because she felt like she had lost everything,” says Lorrin. “I took her through the Bible and explained that God is our Father, and He will provide for her. I monitored her every day to find out how she was doing, and to let her know that I was there. Today she is a happy girl.”
Lorrin lost her own father when she was 11 years old, an experience she says allows her to really understand what the girls are going through.
“These girls need love,” Lorrin says. “Someone needs to show them that they care. That is my prayer—that God will send people from here, or elsewhere, who have a heart for these girls.”
When her mother passed away in December 2014, Benike, 12, became the woman of the house. Her duties include caring for her three younger siblings, cleaning the house and fetching water. Sometimes Benike misses school because of her chores and she is behind in her classes. Though school is a struggle, Benike excels at handmade crafts.
“She’s the best with the skills,” says Lorrin. “You show her once, and away she goes. Benike has already finished one yarn doormat while everyone else is not very far. She is just so good at working with her hands.”
Benike said The Pure Girls group is important because it teaches girls “how to overcome the bad things that happen. When I grow up, I know I have something that I can do.”
This kind of project matters so much in protecting girls from being vulnerable to sex trafficking or child marriage - it helps them to believe in themselves and gain greater independence.
To enable us to offer this kind of support to more girls in Zambia and other countries, please donate today.
$150 sets one woman or child on a path to freedom.