Guest feature from Lord Jim Wallace of Tankerness, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
We can easily forget that sometimes our country faces the same challenges as those we consider in need of our help. The issue of teenage pregnancy is one such challenge that we share with Malawi. However, girls’ lives and futures are both at risk in Malawi and we can work together to do something about it.
Malawi has ‘good’ laws intended to protect girls through preventing teenage pregnancy and early marriage. However, in the face of harmful cultural practices and the pressures of the pandemic, more needs to be done to ensure girls can pursue their own hopes for the future.
It was my privilege to make a virtual visit to Mulanje Mission Hospital and learn how, in partnership with EMMS International, they are turning the tide of rising teenage pregnancies.
When schools closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rate of teenage pregnancies doubled. The issue was already a concern for hospital staff but this sharp rise renewed their focus.
On that call, I learned how they worked with village chiefs, faith leaders and families to fully understand the factors that drive the prevalence of teenage pregnancies. Then, with the support of EMMS International, they have stepped up their efforts to tackle these root causes.
Teenage pregnancy is a threat to the lives and well being of girls and their babies. It also casts a long shadow that can cloud a girls’ hopes for the future.
In the midst of this dark and sometimes harrowing conversation, there was a light of hope. As the popular hymn reminds us, there is strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.
With your support through EMMS, Mulanje Mission Hospital is offering strength for today by:
Speaking out against harmful cultural practices that lead to early pregnancies, and working with local leaders to transform them to carry positive health messages.
Providing safe places for girls and boys to access health services and information on sexual health. This means they can make better, healthier decisions.
Working with girls and teenage mothers so that they can stay in school or gain skills through vocational training.
In the midst of this dark and sometimes harrowing conversation, there was a light of hope. As the popular hymn reminds us, there is strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow. I’d like to encourage you to support this vital work to restore ‘bright hope for tomorrow’ for girls in Malawi.