My name is Esther Chikapa and I work for African Bat Conservation (ABC), as a Trainee Research Assistant in Lilongwe, Malawi.
Eight years ago I travelled from my village Zomba Tamwambo to Lilongwe as a single mum with my two children Boniface and Nathan to look for work and a new life. Unfortunately I dropped out of school when I was younger due to having children and so don’t have any qualifications. I found work as a cleaner and cook for African Bat Conservation but was determined to develop myself and learn as much as I could. African Bat Conservation supported me to learn on the job and progress in the field of conservation, education and science.
Since joining the ABC Team I have realised that women have the same potential to learn about science and I want to help other young women realise their potential. Through ABC’s outreach and engagement work which involves visiting local schools, communities and hosting workshops I want to use myself as an example to demonstrate that women can go against the odds and that they should dream big!
Here in Malawi, not many women participate in the scientific field and few outreach projects focus on scientific education in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). Most girls in Malawi drop out of school, myself included. Despite the recent constitutional amendment raising the legal marriage age to 18 for both girls and boys, Malawi still has one of the highest rates of child marriages. Most girls who drop out of school do so because of early pregnancy, early marriages and poverty.
My goal now is to finish my high school diploma so that I can then go on to do a Bachelors degree in Environmental Science.
Once I get qualified I will take up a new role as the Women in Science Outreach Coordinator to promote a career in science for other women and girls in Malawi!
Thank you to all of you who have already donated and supported my journey, it means the world to me! I hope you can help us share this next fundraiser far and wide and not only help me and my education but also help the planet and reduce your single use plastic waste by buying one of the Zikomo Beeswax Food Wraps 🙂
Check out some pictures below of me with the ABC Team and we will get a video up soon I made explaining why so many young girls in Malawi drop out of school.