At eight years, Efinesi Samuti lost her mother. Two years later in 2005, she became an orphan when her father too, passed away.
She and her three siblings went to live with their grandmother who relies on small scale farming for food.
The 23-year-old from Donda Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Chekucheku in Neno confesses that it is hard for them to access their basic needs.
“We have nowhere to get food or soap. As for clothes, we rely on handouts,” she explains.
Efinesi sat the Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) in 2016, but could not go to college for lack of fees. Now, she is delighted to be one of the 31 beneficiaries of the mobile tailoring training in Neno.
The mobile training is an arm of the Development Aid from People to People (Dapp) Mikolongwe Vocational School.
With a target of 270 young girls and women, project coordinator Charles Makhiringa says the mobile tailoring school is targeting nine districts in the Southern Region, including Mulanje, Mwanza, Neno, Thyolo, Balaka, Machinga and Mangochi.
He says the beneficiaries would otherwise pay K180 000 for a six months training in tailoring at Dapp’s Mikolongwe Vocational School.
Makhiringa adds that the project is targeting 15-24 year-old vulnerable girls and young women.
“Beneficiaries include orphans, girls coming from child headed households, from poorest families and young mothers who have little or no support,” he said.
He says the objective is to enable young girls and women in communities to make a living from tailoring business and support their families.
“They are learning how to make half petticoats, children’s dresses, shirts, shorts, skirts and national wears. With those skills, they will be able to make school uniforms for sale,” said Makhiringa.
Group Village Head Chidakwani is pleased with Dapp’s intervention.
He says it is helpful for the youth, noting that girls are prone to risky behaviour such as prostitution when idle.
“This will help the girls to take care of themselves when they would otherwise engage in sexual activities and risk getting pregnant or contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Apart from that, it will help them earn an income,” he said.
The project, funded by Sympany, has beneficiaries from T/A Chekucheku and T/A Dambe at the Neno Mobile Training Centre.
At the end of the training, the trainees will be divided into groups of three and given start-up tools, including sewing machines, pieces of cloth, tape measures, an iron and scissors.
They will also be equipped with entrepreneurship skills.