Youths in Malawi, like many African countries, face a lot of challenges with the major ones being poverty, HIV/AIDS and unemployment. Limited social and economic opportunities for young people has led to an increase in number of young women aged between 13 -25 indulging into commercial sex. This puts them at high risk of catching the HIV virus.
Thembi Thadzi, Commonwealth Youth Representative for Malawi was awarded the Regional Youth Caucus Innovative Project Award (RIPA) from the CYP Africa Centre on her project looking at the HIV/AIDS challenge among school drop outs. It demonstrated that young people can learn skills that will enable them generate income which contributed to reducing levels of poverty, urban migration as well as their vulnerability of getting HIV and AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections.
The research identified a village called T/A Kalumbu, which had the highest number of school drop outs and cases of HIV/AIDS were common among them. It found that the underlying causes for pupils leaving school were poverty, responsibilities to take care of sick family members and lack of parental guidance and care.
To address the above challenge, the RIPA team in collaboration with the village headman, school teachers and Agriculture Extension Officers of Kalumbu identified deserving school drop outs and empowered them with skills that will benefit them and the community. Six young people became primary beneficiaries of the RIPA project. Livestock was purchased and distributed among them and they were given training in animal husbandry, including how to build a kraal, feed livestock with locally available feeds and prevent livestock diseases. Other young people have since joined the project.
“Thanks to the Commonwealth Youth Programme for the financial and technical support given to me during the implementation of the project. Your support has gone a long way in the attainment of the project’s goal and improving the livelihood of young people in T/A Kaumbu,” Thembi said.
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