Twenty-eight-year old Pilirani Joseph from Banja Village, Traditional Authority Nthondo is a well- known tailor at Champhoyo Trading Centre.
Every morning, he takes out his sewing machine, ready to men people’s clothes. As early as 8am, people, especially women, are seen standing while others crouching around him.
Some with new cloths for sewing new dresses while others with old ones to be mended. From their chatter, one learns that Joseph has a cordial relationship with his clients.
From the proceedings, you get the impression that he enjoys his job. “Come closer,” he calls a woman who wants a new dress to step forward.
From around his neck, he takes a tape measure and
takes the measurements from the client’s torso, arms, collar, and shoulder. He jots down the measurements in a notepad and signals her away.
This is the job he opted for after undergoing Youth In Action lessons under Creative Centre for Community Mobilisation (CRECCOM) in 2015.
Yet, Joseph says he wanted to learn how to repair phones but changed careers midway.
“So, I ended up learning tailoring from a person CRECCOM referred me to. After finishing the course, I decided to open a workshop at Champhoyo Trading Centre in 2018,” he says.
Joseph received K70 000 as starter-up capital and invested it buying materials.
He does not have a sewing machine, but he borrows one. “I pay a little monthly fee on the machine.
However, I am working hard to buy mine.”
Judging from the number of clients that patronise his shop, Joseph will buy his machine soon.
In the meantime, his focus is to grow his business.
His mentor, Austin Joshua, testifies about his vision. He says he knows him from the days he tutored him.
“Joseph is passionate about his career. That is what is needed to take him forward,” he says.
Joshua, who had 33 youths under his mentorship, is proud of his contribution to society.
“Today I am one of the most respected people in our community. What we taught these young men and women is priceless. They acquired not only business skills and vocational skills but also life skills,” he says.
Just a stone’s throw away is the home of another young man, Yona Joseph, 30, who is also doing well, but in business.
Although he dropped out in Form One, he found hope in YIA in 2016. He received K70 000 as starter- up capital.
“I bought 25 bags of maize and later sold them at K150 000. I then grew tomatoes. I sold it at K250 000. That is how I established my business,” he says.
Joshua says both young men are self-reliant, living to the expectation of the programme.
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 four districts on Mchinji, Kasungu, Ntchisi and Rumphi. From this figure, 40 593 youths completed the learning phase and 36 314 youths graduated from the full programme.
The mentor says many youths now want YIA to come back, especially those who were not part of it during its implementation. He says they now know that their friends were empowered economically.