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YIA Puts A Smile Back on Alice's Face

THROUGH ; Youth In Action ( YIA )

This Project is sponsored by: MasterCard Foundation

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  • YIA Puts A Smile Back on Alice's Face
  • YIA Puts A Smile Back on Alice's Face
  • YIA Puts A Smile Back on Alice's Face
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19 year-old Alice Kaisankhe can today afford a smile, is something more than what she had dreamt and many people in her village had ever imagined. Just two years ago, the girl's future had literally crumbled into despair and nothingness. Aged 17 and in form two at a community day secondary school in Mchinji district, Alice had unexpectedly fallen pregnant and had to drop from school. What was once a bright and promising future for the young girl had suddenly collapsed into a dark void of uncertainty. Every faintest hope she had ever nursed of becoming an educated and self-reliant woman was shuttered. "I cried and asked my parents to let me go back to school once I had given birth. They refused. They said I would get pregnant again and add more misery to a home already struggling to provide for itself," she said, adding, "They also did not want to become a laughingstock again." Alice became one of the many under-age mothers in her village. She now had to stay home to take care of the unplanned pregnancy and, later, single-handedly raise her child through menial work. The money she realized was not even enough to take care of her and the child. Life had become a weary journey for Alice. Just when she thought all hope was lost, Youth in Action (YIA) came knocking on the door, offering her a new opportunity to re-collect fragments of her broken dream and re-arrange them into a more desirable future. Funded by MasterCard Foundation, the YIA program aims at improving the socio-economic status of vulnerable rural youth, who drop out of school due to various reasons, so they can realize viable education and livelihood opportunities. The program achieves this through the provision of market-relevant literacy and numeracy skills, financial literacy and livelihood and social assets to youths aged 15-18. Using a curriculum Save the Children US developed and translated into local languages, the learning program is delivered through two facilitators to classes of 33 youths each. The training exposes the youth, both male and female, to vocational skills after which they qualify for financial support for entrepreneurship. Jumping at the opportunity, Alice got admitted into the YIA class at Mkangala Learning Centre. While at the center, she had learnt the importance of making savings, budgeting, setting goals in life, business diversification and business skills which have proven to be valuable to her plans Eager to have her future restored, she ensured she attended all classes. After completion of her training, she expressed interest to venture into agro-entrepreneurship. The program provided her with a K70, 000.00 grant to enable her embark on her new journey. She bought and sold maize. From the proceeds, she was able to buy a 50kg bag of fertilizer at K20, 000.00 which she applied to her one acre maize field. The maize is ready for harvest this coming April and promises a bumper yield. She expects to get 20 bags of 50kgs each and she intends to sell them so that she boosts her business capital of buying and selling of maize. She also bought two piglets at K10, 000.00 each from the profits she made from her business. Alice is now able to profitably run her business and look into the future with new hope and a smile on her face. Her dignity, has also been restored as she is now financially independent. "I want to become independent and settle at a busier trading centre where my business can grow. That way, I can provide necessary care for my son," she said. The project, which is being implemented in the districts of Ntchisi, Kasungu, Rumphi and Mchinji, has become a game changer that is making youths smile again. By offering them numeracy skills and financial literacy, they become well equipped to invest in profitable small-scale businesses and properly manage their finances. Youths that have gone through these processes, have gradually graduated from handouts to self-reliance.

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