WE SEE HOPE IN YONA
A STORY FROM MPC BLANTYRE, MALAWI
“I ALWAYS FELT LIKE I WAS IN THE MUD, BUT NOW I FINALLY FEEL LIKE I AM OUT OF IT.”
Yona is 18 years old and lives in a village in the Ntcheu District of Malawi with his mother, Chrissie, and his brother, sister and nephew. When Yona was 12 years old, his father died leaving his mother to care for him and his siblings alone. By the time he was 14, Yona had dropped out of school and was trying to catch mice in the fields around their house to feed the family; “I was not sure how we were going to make it in life without my Dad.”
Yona and his family were fighting to survive; “We were struggling to eat. Even to find clothes, it was very tough. When I was desperate, I used to do some piece work (small bits of manual labour) to get some food.”
It was at this time that our local project partner, MPC Blantyre, recognised that Yona needed support. As he was 16, Yona became part of our Vocational Skills Training Programme, designed to help vulnerable young people to learn a new skill that can mean they can earn a sustainable income.
Yona started his training to become a tinsmith with a local artisan, and learn business and entrepreneurial skills, such as basic finance and marketing, from MPC Blantyre.
Once he had completed his training, Yona was given some tools, such as metal sheets, a hammer and pliers, so he could establish his own business. He set up his own workshop outside his house and now makes the likes of buckets, large pails and pipes from scratch, and helps members of the community to repair their existing equipment.
Yona’s mother, Chrissie, in their new home
In order to invest in more materials and gain more capital once he had set up his business, Yona joined our Village Investors Programme (VIP), which helps adults in a community to save money by setting up village savings and loans groups; “Sometimes just because I am young, I would just spend my money anyhow, so it would become difficult for my work especially when I needed to buy materials. So when I joined the VIP, I was able to keep my money and only draw on it when I needed the money. I have been able to do a lot of things through my savings at the village bank.”
From his business and through the VIP, in only two years Yona has transformed his and his family’s life.
Yona invested his money wisely, buying five goats and 15 chickens, which are valuable financial assets either to breed or to sell at market, and also purchasing two bags of fertiliser, which has enabled him to establish a food garden in which he grows maize to feed the family.
From his income he has also expanded his tinsmith business by buying more tools and materials. Doing this has enabled him to diversify his income by buying beans to sell at the local market.
All of this has meant that he has been able to build his family a new, much larger house, socialise more with his friends, take part in piped water projects in his community, and train two other vulnerable boys in his trade.
Fred is one of the boys that Yona has trained, and he has gone on to set up his own tinsmithing business in his village.
Yona’s training and ambition are creating change in his own life and in the lives of others; Fred, his family and his community.