The sun is setting at Chamdimba Village in Traditional Authority Zulu in Mchinji and Davison Chirambo, 23, is seated comfortably at the verandah of his newly-constructed house.
Just a metre away, his mother and other women stop chatting; they immediately come forward, in accented Chichewa.
Looking around the homestead, one got the impression that it was middle-class. Yet, this is a village located about 20 kilometers from Mchinji Boma where middle-class families live.
The decent house roofed with corrugated iron sheets, a granary full of maize, and an ox-cart lying on the ground encapsulated a household that does not lack basic necessities.
With a huge smile on his face, Chirambo narrated his journey of success.
He traces his fortune to 2015 when he joined Creative Centre for Community Mobilisation (CRECCOM) Youth In Action (YIA) Project.
CRECCOM implemented the project with support 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 programme. In Malawi the project targeted four districts including Mchinji, Kasungu, Ntchisi and Rumphi.
At the end of the training, he received K70 000 as start-up capital. He took to growing vegetables.
Chirambo recollects: “I bought fertilisers and seeds. I grew tomatoes, Irish and beans. I did irrigation farming. I sold the crops and realised K110 00. I bought more seeds and invested in farming.
“In 2018, I bought a calf at K100 000, so I could get manure.”
Chirambo, who dropped out in Standard Eight at Gilime Primary School, says he got K150 00 in 2019 and invested in crops. When he sold the crops in 2020, he realised K450 000. The father of one bought an ox-cart at K300 000.
“I also bought a piece of land. Right now, I have grown tomato on half-acre,” he says.
Chirambo uses the ox-cart to transport manure to his farm and hires it to others to transport their farm produce from the fields to the market.
His mentor, Patrick Jimu, is quick to point out that Chirambo still consults his notes he took down
during YIA mentorship when transacting his business.
“That is what we wanted the youth to do. To conduct business the way we taught them. So, ever time Chirambo records his business transactions to be able to follow whether he is making losses or gains,” he says.
Chirambo’s mother, Margaret Chamdima, is all smiles. When we were about to leave, she ran and knelt before us, tears of joy rolling down her cheeks, and said: “Davison, built a decent house for us. We no longer sleep in a leaking house. When I die, I will be carried to my final resting place in a good coffin and not wrapped in a mat.”
Overcome by emotions, the mother told us how her son has become the pillar in the family.
“He is also paying school fees for his brother. This boy has removed my shame,” she says.
When we finally bade farewell to Chirambo and her mother, the sun’s rays had scattered across the western sky in golden streaks.