Behind Dorothy’s smiles

When Dorothy Menyani dropped out of school in Standard Seven, she thought the world had crumbled around her.

But the 28-year-old young woman from Cheyadi Village, Traditional Authority Zulu in Mchinji is singing another song.

After living in abject poverty for many years, Menyani saw her fortunes turn around in 2018.

She recalls that in 2016 she was among the youths who underwent business training under Youth In Action (YIA) Project implemented by Creative Centre for Community Mobilisation (CRECCOM) in the district.

CRECCOM implemented the project with funding from MasterCard Foundation (Canada) through Save the Children between 2012 and 2017 in T/As M’duwa, Zulu, Mkanda and Mavwere in the district.

The programme was expected to reach 39 850 direct beneficiaries over six years. By March 2018 the programme had reached 43 792 youths in 5 countries namely Malawi, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Ethiopia and Uganda . From this figure, 40 593 youths completed the learning phase and 36 314 youths graduated from the full program. In Malawi, the project targeted four districts including Mchinji, Kasungu, Ntchisi, and Rumphi.

During the training, facilitators and mentors inspired Menyani not to give up in life.

“They taught us how we can use locally-available resources to earn money. They said within our localities, we could do business and pursue other careers,” she recollects.

So, at the end of the three-week training, Menyani received K70 000 as starter-up capital.

She did not hesitate but hit the ground running right away; in 2018, she bought a pig. With help from Mchinji Agriculture Development Office, she hired some people to construct a pig’s stall in her village.

Located five kilometres from the M1 Road, the pig’s stall now has seven animals—two grown-up—and five piglets.

Menyani bought the pig at K45 000 and spent the remainder on food and drugs. After three months, the pig gave birth to 12 piglets.

She sold seven in 2020 and earned K160 000.

“I bought a plot near the Mchinji-Lilongwe Road where I plan to build a house,” says Menyani.

However, despite owning pigs, she also grows crops for consumption and she plans to extend her farming to a commercial level.

Just this growing season, Menyani grew maize and she got a bumper harvest. This will save her from buying maize during the lean season next year between January and March.

Indeed, her engagement with YIA has taught her that it is possible for a woman like her to be economically independent.

Importantly, Menyani is a dropout whose chances to make it in life are slim. “But with Creccom’s YIA project, I can now afford a smile as I am able to support my family.”

To her, CRECCOM lay the foundation of her achievements.

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