At VoiceFlame, our great hunger is for every girl child to read, write, and speak with confidence while boldly pursuing her dreams. We accomplish this by using the Amherst Writers & Artists (AWA) method of writing that is proven to be particularly profound for those who have been led to believe they have no voice. Over the course of just three years, we found that girls who attend our programs stand in front of their classrooms with confidence. They identify as writers. They teach what they learn to siblings and friends. They refuse to drop-out of school for early marriages. They display leadership skills. Our goal is to train 12 new AWA leaders per year and establish 36 Writing Clubs in secondary schools in Lilongwe, Malawi by the year 2020.
We collaborate with primary and secondary schools, and local NGO's to provide opportunities for girls to become confident writers and leaders, motivating girls to stay in school. We begin by giving girls access to pens and paper, thereby removing a fundamental barrier to learning. Our writing lessons include storytelling, music, and dance, awakening girls to the joy of learning. The result is girls who are excited to remain in school.
Each year, twenty girls participate in a life-changing experience where they explore their creativity, author their stories, and embrace their strength as leaders. In addition to our regular activities, Malawian artists are employed to share inspirational stories of having overcome obstacles to achieving their goals for education and successful careers. Participants come away with a deeper sense of what is possible and an expanded confidence for creative self-expression.
The AWA Training Program is a comprehensive training to develop writing workshop leaders. The five-day training provides instruction in leadership skills, experiential learning, development of craft, and information on how to form successful groups. As more Writing Clubs are established, thousands of lives will be impacted, and the implementation of the program will be accomplished by local teachers empowered to tap into their enormous gifts and potential.
In addition our anthologies of women’s voices, Nda Ku Ona: I See You With My Heart, published in 2012, and our most recent publication, ANTHOLOGY 2019: The Stories of the Struggle for Education and Equality in Malawi. VoiceFlame produces a yearly chapbook of stories written by girls who participate in Writing Clubs and Camps. These chapbooks are made available in their respective school libraries and serve as motivation for both boys and girls to increase their literacy skills.