Saved by Grace: Agness' Story

04/28/15

Early death or early marriage.

It might sound extreme, but that’s what many girls face in Malawi

Agness’ story is different. But if you look at her two sisters, who didn’t get the same kind of help she did, you see what she was up against. 

Agness was the second born in a family of three little girls. Her life started out with loving parents, but they died when she was so young that she can’t remember them. The girls moved to stay with their aging grandmother, but she was unable to provide enough food for them. Sadly, with so few resources, Agness’ younger sister didn’t make it. 


There are many obstacles facing young women in Malawi. Many are married off early, or forced to stay home from school to watch children. 
 
Agness and her older sister did survive. But when Agness was three years old, their lives took very different turns. 
 
An organization called Children of the Nations (COTN) had started a home for orphans like Agness and her sister, and the government had referred COTN to Agness' grandmother’s home, knowing the little girls’ lives were at stake. Agness’ older sister was already enrolled in a government school, and her grandmother thought she could manage to care for just one child, so only Agness came to COTN’s Children’s Homes.


                           Agness was one of the first children to enter COTN's Children's Homes in Malawi. 
 
In the next 15 years, Agness would go back to visit her sister often. And she would see their lives diverge simply because of the extra resources people like you provided for her.
 
It was hard for Agness’ sister to stay in school. Even though primary school is free, supplies, uniforms, and time is not. Some girls drop out of school simply because they can’t afford to bring a lunch each day. Others don’t make it because of the long walk. Many stop coming because they are needed to do chores like fetch water at home. Those who brave the walk and squeeze their chores in before school often face gender-based discrimination once they are there. According to the World Bank, only one in four girls in Malawi ever enrolls in secondary school, and even fewer attend. Less than 5 percent pass their final exam and graduate.
 
Eventually, the fight to stay in school became too hard for Agness’ sister. So she did what most young girls with nothing to do and no one to support them do—she got married. 
 
When she was still a young teenager, Agness’ sister became a wife, then quickly a mother as well. Today, she has two children who face the same hurdles to complete their education. Agness’ dream is to get a good job and support them one day.
 
That dream is not far off for Agness. She is now in eleventh grade at COTN’s secondary school, which she attends for free, thanks to her sponsors. Not only is she free from all the pressures that force most girls out of school, she has extra support and encouragement at the International Christian Academy (ICA). 


                    Agness is now in eleventh grade, a rare accomplishment for a young woman in Malawi.
 
“ICA is a very good school with good academics,” Agness explains. “The teachers are hardworking compared to other public schools. The teachers in public school don’t work hard because they do not get their payments in time and they go on strike often.” At the ICA, Agness has quality teachers who are dedicated to their work. These teachers also take the time to share about Jesus, and pray for their students. “Other schools do not contain the spiritual aspect in their curriculum,” Agness adds.
Looking at her sisters, Agness knows she is blessed. “If I was not in COTN, I could have died and maybe gotten married like my sister,” she says. 


Agness enjoys cooking. But because of your support, she is not forced to stay home and cook all day like many girls her age.
 
In many ways, the story of Agness’ family seems sad and unfair. Why did Agness get the resources and care that her sisters never got? Out of everyone, why Agness?
 
Agness sees it as the grace of God. God worked through generous people like you to get her to where she is today. And with this privilege comes great responsibility. “I want to work in computer networking, to raise money to support my family—my sister’s children and cousins at my home village,” she says. “And also one day I will support my own children.” 
 
You can give a girl like Agness the chance to change her life. Sponsor a child today.