There were happy faces all around from the youths, parents and traditional leaders of Namandanje Village in Traditional Authority Liwonde in Machinga District when Plan International Malawi organized a graduation ceremony on Thursday of 45 youths, who have been trained in vocational skills conducted by TEVETA.
The youths were trained in tailoring & design; hair dressing; catering; bakery; carpentry; motorbike mechanics; motor vehicle panel beating; welding and bricklaying.
Plan International Malawi also presented the graduands with starter kits to propel their entrepreneurial skills.
Both Plan International Malawi’s Programmes Director, Daniel Kapatuka and TEVETA’s Regional Manager, Victor Mulambala assured the parents, traditional leaders and the people of Namandanje — who had gathered to witness the rare occasion — to be confident in the new entrepreneurs because the training they went through was intense and professionally executed.
“These youths have earned the certificates they have been awarded with because they worked had and were positive,” Kapatuka said.
“Be assured that they are going to be well received wherever they can present these certificates because they can be recognised as skillful professionals.
“We urge the youths to utilize the invaluable skills they have learnt in a professional manner in order to gain confidence in their potential customers.
“One of the objectives of Plan International Malawi is to make sure that the rights of the country’s youths are respected — especially the girls — and we were very glad that the majority of them are girls.”
All the course participants — 26 girls and 19 boys — managed to reach the last mile and Kapatuka took exceptional that some girls opted to be trained in professions that are mostly regarded as a male domain — such as bricklaying, mechanics, welding and motor vehicle panel beating.
“Of course, we had to include boys in order for them to appreciate gender equality and were were overly pleased when some of the boys opted for hair dressing skills — something which not many men go for.
“We are also pleased that some of these graduands have already started practising their trade long before being handed the starter kits we are giving today, which shows how enthusiastic they are to change their livelihood and also for those in their communities,” Kapatuka said.
On his part, Luwambala assured the youths that their certificates can be used as collateral to access loans from FINCA or other financial service providers.
He also urged them to form their own financial cooperative which they can use as a revolving fund to be used to recapitalize their various business.
He applauded the community’s traditional leaders, led by Senior Chief Liwonde, who appreciated the initiative by allowing Plan International and TEVETA to conduct the training for their youths.
Senior Chief Liwonde graced the occasion and even joined the jubilant graduands and parents in a celebration dance — very rare of a leader of such status to do at a huge gathering as it was.
He impressed on his youthful subjects that they have made him a proud man for their enthusiastic participation of the courses and urged them to make a difference to their beloved community.
“I am also very proud that Plan International decided to organise this graduation ceremony right here in Namandanje where the graduands come from.
“You could have decided to do it elsewhere but you chose to come right here so that other youths from my community can get inspired to opt for vocational skills as well once they complete their academic studies.”
The Senior Chief asked the graduands to also share the skills they have acquired with those that can be interested to do so in order to empower the community.
Guest of honour, District Commissiner Rosemary Nawasha, applauded Plan International for the initiative, saying this is in line with the government’s policy of not giving people fish, but to teach them how to fish.
“The government is establishing community vocational colleges but where it is not able to reach, it depends on stakeholders like Plan International to reach out to,” she said.
“I am also impressed that the majority of the graduands are girls, whom the government is keen to empower at all levels.”
She implored on the youths not to abuse the invaluable equipment they have been given but to show their appreciation by making good use of them and also to strive in upgrading themselves.
Representing the graduands, Tiwonge M’meta said they were proud to acquire the vocational skills which will now make them self reliant.
“The youths in our community were looked down upon and underserved because we were just idle but now we have something to lean on which will make us also support our parents.
“Most of us have already started our entrepreneurship and it’s reaping some fruits as well and we know the future is bright,” she said in her testimony on behalf of the others.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :