Why we need a Helen Maseko Women's Hostel
Helen Maseko is the mother of the STEKA children's home. For years she's nurtured generations of (often trauma-experienced) girls and raised them to be ambitious and confident young women. We want to expand her influence to other young marginalised women at our STEKA Vocational Skills Centre.
When asked about the most important thing they'd like people to know about their lives, the STEKA girls all said 'Kusasa Fumbi' (removal of the dust). It's a practice in parts of Malawi, and some other African countries, where girls are made to have sex as part of their training in how to look after men and make good wives. Often marriage is seen as the only route out of poverty and 'initiated' girls are believed to be more marriageable. While the practice is illegal, young girls in certain areas are still expected to have sex with a paid sex worker at initiation camps. Many of the girls at the STEKA home are there to take refuge from this practice, or from early marriage. Young women at our vocational skills centre have also had their lives blighted by the practice and find it difficult to see how they can build independent lives for themselves. Sometimes they are physically prevented from completing our skills development courses and sometimes their lack of self worth impedes their progress. But we know that changes when they enter our brave space and take part in critical dialogue with aspirational young men and women, and with the support of amazing roll models, teachers and leaders such as Helen Maseko. We want women to be able to live at our centre, safely, for the time it takes them to qualify in a vocational skill.