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Malawi, Africa

Entrepreneurial builder

Vocational training transforms future

ARISE provides vocational skills development training for legal working-aged youth aged 14 to 17. Upon completion of the courses, the youth have qualifications in sewing and production of clothes, bricklaying or carpentry and can gain skilled employment. Sometimes they even start their own business.

Fadsani Matewere is the first born son in a family of four children. His father worked as a tractor driver on a tobacco farm in Ntcheu District, Malawi. From his father’s earnings, the family lived in a good house and had all the basic necessities. But his father developed trachoma and lost his sight. The estate could not maintain his employment and he lost his job.

Fadsani’s father had used his savings to construct their house just before he lost his sight, so family life changed drastically. They slowly started lacking many basic needs and regular meals became less. The maize yield from their farm also dropped because they could no longer afford to buy and apply fertilizers, and they could no longer afford to pay workers to help. Clothes for Fadsani and his siblings were in poor condition, and the children slowly started missing classes. Fadsani dropped out altogether in his last year of primary school.

To help provide for the family, Fadsani started working on the same farm his father had. He tilled the land, prepared and took care of the tobacco nursery, sprayed pesticides, bundled tobacco, helped load and transport tobacco bales, and worked on other crops grown on the estate. When ARISE was introduced in the area, Fadsani was identified as being in child labor. He was too old to re-enter the school system and was registered at Chizungu Community Based Service Outlet Center where he received counselling and was enrolled in bricklaying training course.

At the center he met two friends, Hoseya Chinyama and Moyenda Batoni, who were also following the bricklaying course. The commitment and hard work of the boys saw them graduate as skilled youth, although continued to attend the bricklaying course, sharing their newly acquired skills with newly enrolled students and improving their own skills further. Eventually, the boys agreed to start working together and source building contracts in their community. They were motivated by the feedback received from their community after completing a class project in the form of a community library, which they constructed under the guidance of their instructors during their training.

A member of the local Community Child Labor Committee, Emma Ngola, was so impressed with the trio’s work she awarded them a contract to construct a house for her. They worked diligently and applied skills mastered from their training to build a beautiful and strong house. The quality of the house created demand for their work, and they received contracts to build more houses within and outside Chizungu Village.

Fadsani and four other brick layers were also asked to join the construction of Kampanje Primary school which was supported by ARISE. Upon completion, the skills and quality of their work again attracted many customers and they won more contracts. As more contracts came their way, they became more skilled and experienced. Eventually they decided to part ways and work independently, however they still work together on bigger contracts.

As a successful entrepreneur, Fadsani now earns sufficient income to support his family with food and to provide for the education costs of his younger siblings. Together with his mother, he also paid for his younger brother to acquire a passport and to travel to South Africa for work. The family now receives blankets and clothes from that young brother.

He is proud of his bricklaying skills as he continues helping in improving the face of his community and earning more contracts. He says, ‘When my father lost his sight, my future was doomed, I never thought I would become a skilled person. I never thought I would be of importance to my community. But through ARISE, I’m a competent builder, able to support my family and prevent my younger siblings from dropping from school. I am very thankful to ARISE’.

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ARISE aims to end child labor in communities where JTI sources tobacco leaf. We work with those directly affected and with others who have the power to change things. Our initiatives are developed and delivered in collaboration with tobacco-growing communities, social partners and governments.