Support Groundbreaking Reporting on Women
Logo Logo

 From Malawi: The power of a story 

by Xanthe Scharff July 31, 2023

In December, I went to Malawi, where my career working for women and girls started after a family shared their story.

In 2005, I wrote an article for The Christian Science Monitor (The Monitor) about a family in rural Malawi living on $1 a day. Anesi, the daughter, had dropped out of 8th grade while her brother continued in 11th grade. Learning about Anesi, and later reading about girls like her, prompted dozens of readers to send money to help.

From that beginning, with Malawian and US-based colleagues, I launched AGE Africa: Advancing Girls’ Education (AGE Africa), a scholarship and mentoring program which still serves thousands of Malawian girls every year.

After ten years I stepped away from AGE Africa, leaving the organization in the hands of committed colleagues. Soon after, I co-founded The Fuller Project to do groundbreaking reporting that catalyzes positive change for women. Both organizations are proof that a single story can spark change.

Anesi’s story and the readers’ responses, had a profound impact on my life. My early experiences with girls and women leaders in Malawi, and later around the world, inspired me to build a global news organization focused on women.

On my recent trip to Malawi, I met with Anesi and two other AGE Africa scholars, Idah and Lessenia. They told me their inspiring – and sometimes hard – truths about education and aid, expectation and loss, and their own choices and journeys.

Click here to read the cover story I wrote for The Christian Science Monitor’s weekly magazine: What girls’ in Malawi gain – and give up – by choosing education.

“Some stories are just worth revisiting,” wrote Amelia Newcomb, managing editor of The Christian Science Monitor, about why they published the story.

The belief in the power of following up drives our newsroom at The Fuller Project, too. It’s about commitment to the stories that women have entrusted to us, and truth and accountability. 

In the coming weeks, I’ll share an episode from The Monitor’s podcast, “Why We Wrote This.”

Get our groundbreaking reporting on women

Get The Fuller Project in your inbox weekly
Get The Fuller Project in your inbox weekly