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From victimhood to leadership & transformation

My name is Grace Nachila born on the 7th of March 1997. Second born in a family of five. Like any other young girl, my dream was to go to school and become an accountant/lawyer but sadly
I lost my mother when I was 6 years old which made my childhood painful and horrible. Life was never the same without my mother. I was a lonely girl. I was sexually abused by my uncle on different occasions until I was 10 years old. My uncle infected me with sexual transmitted diseases (STDs), I was traumatized. I developed hatred towards men and boys.

Living in a small poor family, life became even more challenging. Going to school without shoes, a bag or books. After a lot of hardship as a young girl, I finally finished secondary School at the age 16. Later, at the age of 17 I got married to a man aged 30, hoping to go back to school and help my family.

Being married at the age of 17 was the hardest part of my life, I experienced all forms of gender based violence. I was mentally abused and physically abused. As a young mother all I wanted was shelter for my child therefore I endured pain and suffering.

Four years later, the marriage was over. 
I went into depression, I lost hope, I felt like a failure, I felt like a burden to my poor family. All I wanted was to commit suicide, until I was introduced to the dreams project implemented by YWCA. The organization helped me with trauma counselling and skill building which built my confidence, and this helped me discover my abilities. My passion is help the needy, and advocate for women empowerment and inclusion in decision making. I aspire to be a female leader. I aspire to be a president.

YWCA later introduced me to NGOCCs young women's network where I was elected as the provincial (Lusaka) chairperson. I lead a team of various intelligent young women with the one goal of ending child marriage. It was and is the most important job. I was eager to fight child marriage as it affected me and other young vulnerable girls in our society today. Young women's network identified schools in Peri urban areas where at one of the community schools the anti child marriage club was launched.

The YWN have held different open dialogues with young girls and young women in different communities. The YWN also have used different radio platforms to advocate for the end of child marriage which received a lot of positive feedback. The YWN in Lusaka through its work has impacted tens of young women and girls who have left child marriage. I help the girls stay in school by donating reusable pads, and pay tuitions fees to the vulnerable pupils in the secondary grades. The YWN has managed to reach out to over a hundred girls and young women through radio programs, donation of reusable pads and community sensitisation routines. The YWN has attracted attention in the fight against child marriage as young women fight child marriage in different provinces and in entire nation.

I go by the slogan R.P.E: Recognising, Promoting and Empowering women.

Thank you.

Yours faithfully,
Grace Nachila

Grace Nachila  

I am an activist/advocate on gender equality, sexual reproductive health and rights, gender based violence and ending early child marriages. I am a psychosocial counsellor and national vice chairperson for the young women’s network working with adolescents, girls and young women. I believe we all need to contribute positively to make the world a safer place for girls and women.

Day 7: Project
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