At Nthondo Trading Centre in Ntchisi North East, there is a 22-year-old Josen Tawayira who has earned a name for himself.
The young man from Kawiya Village in the area makes hoes, axes, repairs metal works, and does some fabrications. Occasionally, he makes steel door frames and window frames, including metal gates.
Tawayira joined cohort five-under Creative Centre for Community Mobilisation (CRECCOM)’s Youth In Action in 2016. The same year he went to Mikolongwe DAPP Technical College in Chiradzulu where he did welding and fabrication.
At the end of his training, he received a daughter grinder, welding and fabrication machine. Soon after graduating, he worked as an apprentice under an accomplished artisan at Nthondo Trading Centre.
There, local people call him “amisili” (an artisan) in recognition of his welding and fabrication skills. Just like his peers in various trades, Tawayira ensures he earns the trust of his clients. He knows that dishonesty will not take him far in a trade that thrives on a good reputation.
This is what he learned during his time with YIA, he says while adding: “It takes hard work and long to build a good reputation, but just one mistake the good image is shattered.”
Like the iron-smelting generation before the formation of kingdoms, Tawayira uses his art to serve an agro-based community, to a larger extent.
“Most of my clients are farmers in need of hoes, axes, pangas and other farm tools,” he explains.
At his workshop, Tawayira, with the skill of a weaver-bird, is seen working around metal objects to shape something recognisable—amid furious sounds of a daughter grinder smoothening a metallic object and the spark of soda wires.
“This is where my bread and butter come from. I thank CRECCOM for the support as I can support my family,” says Tawayira.
At the district level, he represents few young men who acquired vocational skills from formal institutions.
CRECCOM implemented the project with support from MasterCard Foundation (Canada) through Save the Children between 2012 and 2017 in T/As Chilooko, Malenga, Chikho, Nthondo and Kasakura 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 programme .In Malawi the project targeted four districts including Mchinji, Kasungu, Ntchisi and Rumphi.
This year, Technical, Entrepreneurial, Vocational, Education and Training Authority (Teveta) plans to train 170 mastercrafts to train youths in formal and informal institutions.