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A Hero in His Own Way

Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Mr. Chiukepo Mwenechanya

It is a fact that youth unemployment is a global challenge and Malawi is not spared from this. Being in a rural community, youths are at a disadvantage because of limited employment opportunities. As a result, most youths from my site leave for South Africa every year in search of greener pastures. These hopefuls usually follow a relative who left earlier and help them settle in the new country and connect them to job opportunities. Those who remain home, after finishing their secondary education level, explore the little economic opportunities like farming, small-scale businesses, and pieceworks for survival, while others just move around the village without a meaningful form of livelihood.

Chimzy (not his real name) is one such youth in my site who remained home after completing his secondary education. This was not by choice, but he had no one willing to meet the cost for him to travel to the rainbow nation. He felt unlucky and cheated as most of his peers travelled to South Africa promising to help him join them once they settle down but never hearing from them again.

As years went by, he tried different ways of keeping his head above the waters of abject poverty. Due to his hard search for a purpose in his life, together with his charming character, Chimzy was liked by many in the community. Thanks to the intervention of the Church under the program called LISAP (Livingstonia Synod AIDS Programme), the community chose him to be among a few beneficiaries of a scholarship to study Carpentry and Joinery at Phwezi Technical College. He chose this particular skill since his community had no skilled labour in that field and he saw this as an opportunity to start a business venture for his legacy.

After the training he returned home to set up the very first carpentry workshop in the community where he now makes furniture for clients within my site and beyond. Realizing the plight of youth in the area, he volunteers to offer free training to interested youths to learn about carpentry. Years after launching the workshop, he has taken several apprentices under his wing and taught them the skills. Passing by his workshop, a group of youth can always be found observing and trying out carpentry skills and it is always amazing to see him sharing lessons to a bunch of knowledge-thirsty youths trying to learn as much as they can.

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