WE SEE HOPE IN FRED
A STORY FROM MPC BLANTYRE, MALAWI
“I FELT LIKE I WAS A USELESS PERSON. BUT NOW I FEEL LIKE I AM A WORKING PERSON; THAT I AM A MAN.”
Fred is 18 years old and lives in Chesasa village in the Ntcheu District of Malawi. When he was a young boy, Fred’s family were very poor so he would spend his time hunting for mice and selling them to people in order to get some money.
When he was still young, Fred’s mother passed sadly passed away: “I felt it was very hard when my mother died because mothers are the ones that care for the family. When I come from wherever I had gone, I came home expecting to see my mother cook food for me and care for me, but my mother was not there and it was hard for me.”
In November 2015, when Fred was just 15, his father also passed away, leaving him, his brother and sister to care for themselves; “That made things very difficult because I had no parents and I was expected to hunt for more mice to help provide for my family.”
However, in November 2017 our local project partner, MPC Blantyre, who had already trained a young man called Yona in a nearby village to be a tinsmith, introduced Fred to our Vocational Skills Training Program. Through it, Yona started to teach Fred his skills, and pass on his knowledge of running a successful business.
“I started going to Yona’s house every day for two months. When I finished training at Yona’s and when I was happy that I could manage making tins by myself, I was given tools to help me.”
Fred & Yona
Using his tool kit provided as part of the Program, Fred set up his own business, working from his shop outside of his house.
“This business is very good because I can sell from here as most of my customers are members of my village. People come from their homes and come and buy right here at my house. During market days I go out and sell my produce.”
To help him save money and expand his business, Fred has also become part of our Village Investors Program (VIP), which helps adults in a community to save money and set up enterprises. During regular meetings, members deposit their savings or and take loans so that they can buy more materials and grow their businesses. Using the profit from this, they then repay the loan with interest, and so it becomes an efficient way to save money; “When I sell my things, what I do first is to make sure I save my money at the village bank (VIP group).”
In order to help support him and the rest of the family, two of Fred’s cousins have also joined the VIP and are now part of Yona’s group.
Fred’s uncle, Maqaqula, said that now that Fred is a tinsmith, his life has changed; “At first Fred was going into the bush to look for mice and he would sell the mice to make money for the family. But now he is able to make money without going into the bush, just by staying at the house and doing his tinsmithing.”
Using his skills and saving his money means Fred is now looking to the future; “I always have some little money somewhere that I can use, so I would say my life has changed. My plan is that I would like to build a better house.”
Fred’s two cousins, to the right of him, have also joined the VIP.