I am no longer looking for a husband at this juncture of my life. I am chasing my hopes and dreams of becoming a teacher, so that I can inspire other girls to stay in school and follow their dreams.
– Gladys Shaibu
Gladys Shaibu dropped out of school before she turned 17. Like many of the young women in her southern Malawi community of Machinga who had dropped out before her, Gladys left school to find a husband and begin a family of her own.
Not long after she abandoned her education, Gladys was recruited by the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs’ One Community program to join a Go Girls! club, a support group designed for adolescents at risk of HIV.
Gladys says that while engaging in personal reflection during the Go Girls! sessions and examining how to overcome her own challenges that she was inspired to re-enroll in school.
With the help of One Community’s Alinafe Kandaya, Gladys only missed one school term and is now an exemplary student and role model in her community. Many of her friends who had also dropped out of school are now envious of Gladys’ decision to return to school. They now hope to find the means to support their education as well.
The oldest of five, Gladys is a mentor to her four younger siblings, encouraging them to study hard to ensure they, too, can pursue their dreams. She fills her time with engaging debates on social studies with classmates, discussing her goals with family and playing netball with new friends from her Go Girls! club.
“I am no longer looking for a husband at this juncture of my life,” she says. “I am chasing my hopes and dreams of becoming a teacher, so that I can inspire other girls to stay in school and follow their dreams.”