MamaYe clubs are school based youth clubs whose goal is to develop a cadre of young people who are knowledgeable on MNH issues and have developed awareness and skills to advocate for maternal health in their communities.
Some of the activities being done by these youth clubs are conducting door to door campaigns visiting pregnant women; asking them to regularly attend antenatal clinics, and sensitizing them of danger signs during pregnancy.
For Pinda Primary School, one of the clubs in Mchinji district, the maternal and child health messages has been taken to a new level. One of the strategies at the school’s club in 2014 was to reach out to those girls who dropped out of school due to pregnancy; bring them back and turn them into MamaYe Advocates.
Carolyn Chambala, a 14 year old girl from Bua village dropped out of school in 2013 due to pregnancy and she’s a product of that initiative. When the MamaYe club started a campaign of visiting their friends who are no longer in school. Carol, as she’s fondly called by her friends, was one of them and she quickly accepted the call.
Now in Standard 8 Carol is an active member of the club who is seriously courting three of her former schoolmates who are still home after giving birth to come back to school and join the cause. The most inspiring part of Carol’s story is that her baby is just 6 months old and so she still breast feeds after school.
In her own words, Carol said a group of boys and girls from MamaYe club used to visit her when she was pregnant.
At first I thought they just want to make fun of my situation, but later own realised they are wishing me the best.
She said these club members were also instrumental in telling her a lot of things she was not learning even at antenatal.
It was like am already a member of MamaYe.
Carolyn is among the 6 girls at Pinda who dropped out of school in 2013/2014 academic year. Mr Njovu, her class teacher who is also the Mamaye patron at the school, said at that time, at 13, Carol was among the youngest girls in Standard 8 by rural standards and hence admired by many.
And her current status of returning to school and becoming an MNH advocate has quickly restored her confidence as she’s now being referred to as a role model.
Pinda MamaYe club has a total of 30 members, 16 girls and 14 boys. The club has been involved in community sensitisation meetings, door to door campaigns to pregnant mothers and also showcasing their activities at school and at zonal level where 16 surrounding schools were in attendance.
Due to such activities, Mr Njovu said, Pinda has for the first time opened in January without having any dropout due to pregnancy.