Regina: Reintegrated into School, Staying Healthy, and Educating Other Youth
Regina Alberto, age 16 from Mozambique, became the head of her family when she lost her mother to a long illness in 2017 after her father had long since passed away in 2003. Regina and her two younger sisters, ages 13 and 6 months, now live with their grandmother in the Chamba-Manga neighborhood of Beira in the Sofala province of Mozambique. Formerly a small-scale farmer, her grandmother is currently unemployed due to physical health problems and hearing impairment, so Regina’s sisters still depend on her for care and support. She had lost all hope of attending eighth grade since her family no longer had any source of income, nor would she have had the time to study and socialize with her peers.
Regina met a Força à Comunidade e Crianças FCC/DREAMS mentor in her community. The FCC/DREAMS project works to create a safe environment for adolescent girls like Regina using communities and schools as strategic spaces to reach this target group with integrated services to empower them and help them access health and social services. The FCC/DREAMS mentor working through Comussanas, WEI/Bantwana’s local implementing partner on the FCC/DREAMS project in Beira, identified the girls’ needs, gave psychosocial assistance to the two elder sisters, and then referred them to the National Institute of Social Action (INAS) for food and milk support for the baby. To get Regina back in school, the Mentor and Comussanas staff, contacted the school council from one of the FCC/DREAMS supported schools Regina was enrolled, and immediately started the eighth grade at the Matadoro-Inhamizua Secondary School in March 2018, while her 13-year old sister continues to study at Julius Nyerere Primary School and also benefits from school uniforms and supplies provided through FCC/ DREAMS provision of education subsidies. Both girls were also integrated into the local Girls Empowerment Club (GEC), where they learn and share with other girls about SRH, HIV/AIDS prevention, GBV, early pregnancy, nutrition, the importance of education, and financial literacy. At one of the sessions, Regina volunteered to join the Village Saving and Loan Association (VSLA) as a way to save money for her family’s food and milk, as well as for her own school examination fees. She initiated the savings with 50 MT from her mother’s funeral contribution fund and has already saved around 250 MT from her profits selling fruits and vegetables. Regina has stepped into the role of the secretariat and is responsible to recruit members, organize meetings, and count member contributions.
I find comfort and affection at my empowerment and savings groups. The members give all types of support to me and my family. They visit us and give my baby sister fruit and play with her. When our house fell down during the rainy season, the VSLA gathered materials to help us rebuild. – Regina, describing the strong relationships she has developed in her GEC and VSLA group.
Today, Regina dreams of completing secondary school and finding a good job to support her family. Her life experience of overcoming adversity and making positive changes serves as an inspiring example for other adolescent girls in similar situations. As one of the peer educators at her school health corner, she shares her inspiring story with her classmates.
Regina explains, “thanks to the FCC/DREAMS project, I can pursue my dream of getting an education. Otherwise, I would have had to resort to unhealthy practices and even sex work just as a way to survive.”