Obert, Irene & Jane’s Story

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Obert, Irene & Jane’s Story

Meet Obert, Irene and Jane*, three tailors and entrepreneurs from Nsiyaludzu in central Malawi.

Obert (pictured on the left) was 16 years old when he dropped out of school. His family could not afford enough food, clothes and other basic necessities, so he was going to have to start doing odd bits of manual labour to earn money, a problem which is widespread in Malawi where child labour rates are as high as 49% (World Bank, 2015).

In 2013, Obert was identified by our in-country partner, MPC Blanytre, and joined our Vocational Training Program. He received training in tailoring and given the tools – including a sewing machine and materials – to set up his own business. Now, at the age of 20, with the income from his business, Obert has built his own house, purchased a bicycle, bought fertilizer to grow sweet potatoes, and also purchased two goats. Through his hard work and skills he has been able to help his mother and also train two other young people in his community, one of whom is Irene (pictured in the middle).

Irene is 18 years old and from a family of nine children. Abandoned by both of her parents, Irene was left to live with her older sister as a child. However, when her sister got married, Irene was left living on her own for three years. As she did not pass her primary school exams, Irene was not able to go to secondary school and therefore became even more isolated and vulnerable.

In 2017, Obert started training Irene and through the program she was also provided with her own tool kit and start-up materials. With her own tailoring business established, Irene is now able to afford food and other basic necessities for herself, as well as starting to build her own house. And, just as Obert did, she has gone on to train another young lady called Jane (pictured on the right).

Having lost her parents at a young age, Jane started living with her grandparents and had dropped out of school by the age of 14. Irene knew Jane from her village and when she graduated as a tailor, she started to use her skills to teach Jane, who is now seven months into her training!

As part of our Vocational Training Program, every graduate is given extra tools and materials so they are able to train other vulnerable young people in their community. Just as has happened with Obert, Irene and Jane, this can create a powerful ripple effect of hope.

*Names have been changed to maintain confidentiality.

We also train young people in the likes of carpentry, hairdressing and mechanics!