Since the inception of the project in January 2019, we have experienced joyful, challenging and memorable moments. We would like to share some stories from the field with you.
Like so many other projects, the Nyawa United project is a voluntary project and depends on people putting in a great amount of time and effort into it. Our project team is no exception. We have come up with several activities to support the project.
It all started with a GoFundMe page, which did not really attract that much attention. So, we decided to step up our game. We decided to bring a piece of Zambia to Norway!
In partnership with a local Zambian woman, we are making and selling handmade Zambian products made from Chitenge material. Mutinta has made some very pretty tote bags, scrunchies, pouches and pillowcases that we are selling in Norway. This way, we got some amazing merch, and Mutinta was able to pay her school fees – women supporting women!
We had a few stands at local Sunday markets, football happenings and through social media. There was a lot of social media spamming involved – but hey – it’s for a pretty good cause, right?
Another fun activity we have come up with is our very own Christmas lottery. Due to some very generous donations from different organisations, shops, hotels in and around Oslo – we were able to put up a pretty good lottery – selling a lot of tickets.
People have been very generous, and we thank everyone for their support – we do appreciate it!
In short, we can honestly say that you must be creative when you decide to start a project – and that it can be a whole lot of fun – or drive you crazy. For better or worse, teamwork and a clear goal in sight, we are continuing to organize more activities and are grateful for any support and help we get!
Human Rights Tournament
We organised a successful human rights football tournament in Nyawa on December 12th 2020, with four girls' teams participating. The Nyawa United project has a strong focus on the human rights and we regularly have workshops with the girls and their parents/legal guardians. During these sessions we talk about their human rights and its importance. We therefore thought it would be a great idea to combine our love for football with our main goal: to empower girls and women's rights and opportunities, with arranging a football tournament.
Our girls lost the final to Lebal, but we are so proud of the progress they have shown since they started playing football in February 2019. They have never played against other teams, but their self-confidence was evident.
Following their journey on and off the pitch has been quite something. We are so proud of them an it is amazing to see the young women they are turning into, with their head held high and feeling empowered.
And remember. Human rights are everyone's rights. Know your rights, and spread the word!
Girls Breaking Barriers
From the very beginning, the Nyawa United girls trained barefoot on the sports ground, which is burning hot during the hottest days, and hard like concrete after the rain has poured down. Putting aside obvious hazardous issues, these girls have never owned a pair of football shoes.
As it was impossible to find football shoes in Livingstone, Anette – located in Oslo – organised with a friend in Lusaka (9hours from Livingstone) to buy 10 pairs of shoes at the local market, which would then be sent from Lusaka to Livingstone by bus. Amy – located in Livingstone – communicated with the friend in Lusaka and picked up the shoes from the local bus stop. Quite the inter-continental coordination going on here and living up to our motto: using local resources at a grassroots-level!
After they received their very first pair of football shoes, all the girls did a catwalk in the local church. There was a lot of laughter and excitement that filled the room. During their first training with shoes, this attracted a lot of attention in the village, especially from males, as girls with football shoes are definitely out of the ordinary in a rural village. Feeling confident and excited with their new gear – these girls are definitely breaking barriers on and off the field!
We think the picture says it all!
Delivering in Darkness
Zambia, like so many other African countries, relies on a solid rain season to replenish hydropower reservoirs to generate electricity. Rural areas are off-grid and access to electricity is scarce – also in Nyawa. Women in Nyawa and from surrounding villages give birth at the Nyawa Rural Health Centre. Due to no electricity, females therefore deliver in darkness. We have spoken to Midwife Goreti who has told us that the medical professionals at the health centre have to use the torch on their phones when delivering babies during the night. Imagine being in deep pain and feeling stressed out and having to deliver in complete darkness.
We are aiming to upgrade the Mothers’ Shelter where females stay before and after giving birth, but in addition, we are helping the rural health clinic with a more reliable source of electricity, which in this case are solar lamps. This will contribute to creating a safe place for females, improving the health for mother and child.
Solar energy for women's empowerment!
My Voice, Our Equal Future
Teaching the girls about their human rights and important life-skills is the most significant aspect of this project. Giving girls a voice will help to determine their future and no decision for girls should be made without them. The world is home to more than 1.1 billion girls under the age of 18 and an investment in realizing the power of adolescent girls upholds their rights today and promises a more just and thriving future. However, there is still a long way to go before gender equality is achieved. Child marriage is one of the most prominent human rights violations among children in Zambia, fueled by gender inequality, poverty, traditions and insecurity.
Zambia has one of the highest child marriage rates in the world, driven by traditional practices and beliefs and the low social status assigned to women and girls. During the time of our project the girls have communicated to us that men have approached them inappropriately and asked for their hand in marriage, despite being underaged. We closely follow up on all of the girls and their parents / legal guardians. One of the girls was contacted by a married man who expressed interest in her. She told the man to stop bothering her and had the courage to speak up for herself with confidence.
She told us that due to being part of the Nyawa United team, she is aware of her self-worth, her human rights, her voice and that she can create her own future on her premises. Although culture and traditions are an important part of life in Zambia, especially in rural areas, child marriage deprives a girl of a future in which she can reach her full potential and furthers an unsafe cycle of oppression and harm.
Girls know what they need and are brave enough to fight for their needs and amplify their voices, despite the challenges they face. My voice – our equal future!
Get Back on The Road!
Travelling out to rural areas in Zambia can be quite the experience, never knowing what mode of transport you will be taking or how long it will take. We normally travel to Nyawa on motorbikes, but when we are bringing equipment, we have to take local transport. On a trip to Nyawa last year, Annet and Amy ended up spending 12 hours to Nyawa, a trip that normally takes around 2 hours from Livingstone. It is safe to say that it was quite the adventure! The 7-seater vehicle was packed with 21 people, as well as chickens and loads of luggage on the roof.
The car broke down and we had to change a tire with the stunning African sunset as a witness. An old man among the passengers sat down in the grass on the side of the road and started reading his newspaper. With no worries on his mind on whether we would make it or not. Looking back, this is such a beautiful metaphor for the Nyawa United project. No matter how many obstacles or bumps in the road we have faced since the beginning, we have always managed to get back on the road with the smiles on our faces and strong will to continue.