From Melbourne to Malawi: helping girls escape the poverty trap

Crenodia Mloza-Banda is one of four Australia Awards students receiving grants from the University of Melbourne to make a difference in their home countries.

Crenodia Mioza-Banda’s thoughts are never far from her native Malawi as she studies at the University of Melbourne.

The Master of Agricultural Sciences student, who attends the University on a government-funded Australia Awards scholarship, is establishing a mentoring program for girls in four secondary schools in Malawi.

Crenodia won a Student Engagement Grant from the University to help with her scheme, which will send role models into schools to speak on the importance of schooling, available support, and opportunities beyond secondary school.

Crenodia Mloza-Banda Australia Awards Student Engagement Grant recipient

“I was born and raised in Malawi, where I noticed that not all girls have access to education for various reasons – financial, being too far away from local schools, or cultural, where educating girls is just not a priority,” Crenodia said.

“From my experience, I’ve learnt that education gives people freedom, a purpose and access into a wide range of income-generating possibilities, which is vital in a country which high poverty rates.

“My project is about mentoring girls in high school and showing the endless possibilities that exist for educated women in the workplace, business and wherever they go."

Crenodia said that following her studies in Melbourne, she hoped to return to her former job as a grants program officer in Malawi and source more funding for development.

“I love designing development projects in agriculture and nutrition for farming families in rural areas,” she said.

Crenodia is one of four Australia Awards students awarded Student Engagement Grants towards the end of 2018. Febbie Tambala – also from Malawi – Rana Islamiah Zahroh, from Indonesia, and Sharon Mweni, from Kenya, all received grants while enrolled in the University of Melbourne's Master of Public Health.

University of Melbourne Student Engagement Grants support initiatives led by students in their local, national or international community. They enable the implementation of activities which create a constructive community impact, and which address important social, economic, environmental or cultural issues.