Nurture and Inspire 20 Youth Leaders in Malawi

by Art & Global Health Center Africa
Nurture and Inspire 20 Youth Leaders in Malawi
Nurture and Inspire 20 Youth Leaders in Malawi
Nurture and Inspire 20 Youth Leaders in Malawi
Nurture and Inspire 20 Youth Leaders in Malawi
Nurture and Inspire 20 Youth Leaders in Malawi
Nurture and Inspire 20 Youth Leaders in Malawi
Nurture and Inspire 20 Youth Leaders in Malawi
Nurture and Inspire 20 Youth Leaders in Malawi
Nurture and Inspire 20 Youth Leaders in Malawi
Nurture and Inspire 20 Youth Leaders in Malawi
Nurture and Inspire 20 Youth Leaders in Malawi
Nurture and Inspire 20 Youth Leaders in Malawi
Nurture and Inspire 20 Youth Leaders in Malawi
Nurture and Inspire 20 Youth Leaders in Malawi
Nurture and Inspire 20 Youth Leaders in Malawi
Nurture and Inspire 20 Youth Leaders in Malawi
Nurture and Inspire 20 Youth Leaders in Malawi
Nurture and Inspire 20 Youth Leaders in Malawi
Nurture and Inspire 20 Youth Leaders in Malawi
Nurture and Inspire 20 Youth Leaders in Malawi
Nurture and Inspire 20 Youth Leaders in Malawi
Nurture and Inspire 20 Youth Leaders in Malawi
Nurture and Inspire 20 Youth Leaders in Malawi
Nurture and Inspire 20 Youth Leaders in Malawi
Nurture and Inspire 20 Youth Leaders in Malawi
Nurture and Inspire 20 Youth Leaders in Malawi
Nurture and Inspire 20 Youth Leaders in Malawi
Nurture and Inspire 20 Youth Leaders in Malawi
Nurture and Inspire 20 Youth Leaders in Malawi
Nurture and Inspire 20 Youth Leaders in Malawi
Nurture and Inspire 20 Youth Leaders in Malawi
Nurture and Inspire 20 Youth Leaders in Malawi

Funny to think that an idea coming from an exchange between students and their visiting University Lecturer during a prolonged college closure has grown into a full-fledged programme that has impacted not only leadership and growth of various dreamers but also helped in overcoming various social challenges in many communities. Starting in 2011 with a cohort of 10 students, SWD has to date engaged more than 150 students and is still going. We are proud to be able to share the amazing results and insights from a new Impact Evaluation report for the SWD programme- we’re sharing snippets of dreamer stories below, and you can read the full report here.

“Before Students with Dreams (SWD) I was just another student. I’d say SWD unleashed my potential. I learned loads from the trainings and it made me want to read and learn more. Learning about Human-Centred Design was particularly impactful. So many programmes are top-down, just bringing information to the people, whereas HCD is about deeply involving people. It got me more interested in communities as agents of change, and how I can bring that out. Also, the use of art and encouraging community members to share their songs, dances etc.-that’s something I’ve taken forward. It breaks the ice and also helps them realise they can bring their ideas rather than just be passive recipients.” This was the reflection of Tawonga, a dreamer who co-founded Pamthuzi to address low literacy skills among youth and create an interactive learning experience, using creative tools to enable youth to critically examine and form opinions about social issues that affect them.

SWD has not only built the skills and knowledge of the dreamers, for some, it has helped them in the choice of career direction. As Akula  from Zaluso Arts reveals, “When we started the project with SWD, we had no idea what we wanted to do career-wise. Having the chance to experiment with following our dreams had a huge impact. We’re now sustaining ourselves and having social impact through our art. It’s hard to imagine how we’d have got here without that starting point.”

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This past reporting period we look back at the achievements of the students with dreams programme, with the coming of our impact evaluation. We are so excited to soon share the findings of our long-term impact evaluation for SWD. The Evaluation sheds light on how the programme has affected the lives of our alumni. Below is a brief look at some of the results of the evaluation:

Overall the programme has positively supported and helped the alumni in developing their leadership skills and in their professional development.

94% of interviewed alumni think the program positively influenced their professional development.

97% of interviewed alumni have used the skills they gained in the programme beyond SWD.

82% of interviewed alumni say that SWD has opened up opportunities for them.

One alumni said, “…I think [SWD] set me up to proceed, like a base, like a foundation” (Team Build It). We also found that the programme has helped alumni apply for and get some opportunities as a result.

“I was able to apply for a grant because of affiliation with SWD and World Connect and SWD made it easier to apply…” (Green Dance)

The report will come out soon and will be available on our website so look out for it there (link below). It looks deep into the programme, showing statistical finding and stories. We look forward to sharing the full report.

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This reporting period we look at the work that other SWD alumni have been doing since graduating from the programme. We focus on Stewart, an alumnus who was a co-founder of Youth Re-defined. Youth Re-defined was a project that centered on Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) Rights among young people as well as ensuring male participation on these issues, this included accessing existing knowledge, practices and attitudes and using participatory art forms such as music, drama, posters and discussions to interact with youth.

Since graduating he volunteered for a Malawian non-profit Organisation called Abundance, which led Stewart to work with Sustainable Futures in Africa (SFA) Network. While volunteering at SFA, Stewart was part of a symposium in Botswana and Nigeria in 2017 and 2018. During the Nigeria symposium, he was chosen as a Research Admin of the SFA network. Continuing with his passion for youth and their voice being heard in the conversation on SRH, he co-authored a study about Youth Participation in Reproductive Health Policy-making in Malawi conducted in September 2018 to June 2019 the research involved travelling across Malawi, interviewing young people and interested stakeholders that are involved in SRH policy-making

“There is substantial progress in youth involvement in SRH policymaking in Malawi. However, some structural and societal factors are choking young people's involvement and are evident in their lived experiences. For instance, some young men feel that there is an "overemphasis" on the girl child empowerment, which on its own is problematic.” Stewart commented when asked about the main findings of the study. The study also found that overall, female respondents expressed confidence in their ability to step up and conquer the gender divide that exists within SRH (and other areas of) policymaking spaces, when and if they are given the chance and support to do so. It, however, is an uphill battle as SRH is still a topic line where policy in Malawi does not reflect the youth perspective.

“There is a need to address the policy-practice gap that exists with regards to youth and SRH policymaking. If this was not a big problem, then perhaps due to the current COVID-19 pandemic we would not be hearing about thousands of girls in Mangochi and Mwanza (among known districts) getting pregnant every month.”, Stewart pointed out.

Stewart hopes to develop a successful career in youth work, youth policy and advocacy. Researching on a “policy and youth-related” topic for his Master’s degree marks a milestone in pursuit of his career prospects. He is currently a student, volunteer and researcher, studying for a Master’s Degree in Education studies for Adult, Youth and Community contexts at the University of Glasgow. He has a keen interest in the Implications of foreign aid on education policy and practice in Malawi. Stewart always looks back at the experience he got during his time with SWD programme as the time that ignited his passion for youth work and is forever grateful for the opportunities SWD programme gave him.  

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Maya interacting with fellow FISU members
Maya interacting with fellow FISU members

Our Students With Dreams (SWD) programme keeps bearing good fruit! We are proudly witnessing the growth and use of skills from SWD and here is one of the many highlights shown from our alumni this year.

 

Baller Kunthazi aimed at challenging social constructions on the roles and capabilities of girls. Maya and her partner Samuel started the project through ArtGlo’s Students With Dreams (SWD) programme in 2018 to engage girls through playing football and other sporting activities which are considered to be only for males to help them broaden their horizons on what girls can do. Following the success of the project, Maya was selected as a young leader to participate in the International University Sport Federation (FISU) academy and is now the FISU ambassador to Malawi. She has continued her work in encouraging girls to be involved in sporting activities by engaging people from local communities. She attributes her skills in leadership and innovation to her experience with Students with Dreams as she had the platform to expand her ideas.

“I have learnt how to run and manage a project – how to communicate, approach potential funders and all these things I have learnt through SWD and I am still using these skills. I am using all my skills both locally and internationally and people are welcoming my ideas. I use sport as a tool for change as ArtGlo uses art and I believe that through these tools you can address very big issues in society.” – Maya

 

Recently Maya was invited to attend the FISU General Assembly in Italy where she was given a platform to talk about her Baller Kunthazi project to sport and university delegates from around the world. She is extremely excited and passionate to connect Malawian youth to score scholarships that allow them to expand their sports talents internationally and bring the skills back home so that other youth in Malawi can benefit from them. She has given an award form the FISU head for her work in Ballar Kunthanzi. She is currently working to set up the next phase of the project.

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During the past few months we have been working on getting our hub up with new developments and continued the campaign against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in technical Colleges.

We look back on Sylvester’s journey. He was a co-founder for the project Girl Rise in Potential (GRiP) which aimed at economically empowering young girls in rural Zomba. The project taught them practical skills such as baking and tailoring which they used to start small businesses to support themselves. They also focused on helping the girls to understand and act on their sexual reproductive health. The project was a success in helping several girls to start their own small initiatives. Sylvester is studying to be a nurse at Malawi College of Health Sciences in Zomba and has a passion for health and development work. This aligned well with his project and in 2018 he graduated from the programme.

Through feedback from the participants, Sylvester created short films that highlighted the project with a focus on its SHR and entrepreneurship aspects and how the project affected the girls. In 2018 one of these clips was recognised by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which awarded him a scholarship to attend the International Conference on Family Planning in Kigali. There he was a panellist and presented GRiP and its findings.

“I was really grateful”, he relates, “for this opportunity because it opened me up to networks that I would have never imagined being in. It also taught me a lot about SRH and where we are as a continent. People equally passionate about girl child rights as I am.”

In 2019 he attended the African Students and Youth Conference in Lusaka. He was further invited and attended the SADC work summit on Gender in Lilongwe Malawi. He presented the project to those in attendance and Sylvester was awarded a certificate by the Minister of Gender in the youth category.  Several stakeholders expressed gratitude for the work being done and encouraged him to continue to pursue the project further.

“The programme has opened me up to opportunities to widen my skills in girl empowerment. It has helped me to reach dreams that I have had. I have reached many people I would have not reached myself. The youth need to be proactive. I used to look at myself and the only thing that I can do school and nothing else, but with SWD I was able to reach out to other opportunities.” – Sylvester.

All these opportunities helped him to grow his initial idea of the project and grow it even further, as now they have even more girls joining the project for the next phase. He was able to identify a further need in the area, that of a place for youth in the area to learn and study. The area is remote and students from the area have to travel far to attend school and find it difficult to study since no place exists nearby. He has begun plans to erect a learning centre in the area for the local children. He is working to make this idea come to life, getting all the right blueprint and staffing to run the centre. We are very proud to see all that Sylvester is doing and look forward to seeing where this latest idea goes.

Our refurbished hub continues to host creative events in Zomba. The vision for the space is to create an enabling environment for artists and social change activists to network, gain tangible skills, and attain access to an innovative space of learning, growth, and creativity.

The hub will serve as an artist lounge, offer space for arts-based approaches and events, and further help in the professional development of local youths. The creative director of the Hub is Dan who is an alumni of the SWD programme and was motivated to join after his own SWD experience. He is very passionate about the hub and has already begun in leading and managing its activities such as an event on entrepreneurship, and an arts and networking event where attendees were invited to share names for the space on our Blackboard of Ideas. We would like to reintroduce our creative hub under the new name “The Green Door”.

A quick update from the UNESCO anti-GBV project, which was designed based on learning from SWD combined with Human-Centred-Design methodologies.  The institutions' tailor-made campaigns aimed at tackling the issues that are directly affecting their institution, which is now in full flow. Due to the project, there has been an increase in the number of cases reported and new systems are being put into place to handle these new cases.  The schools are working closely with authorities to handle the cases and bring the once hidden cases to light. The programme is supported through the Skills and Technical Education Programme (STEP), an initiative partially implemented by UNESCO with funding from the European Union.

UNESCO project intervention at Aida Chilembwe
UNESCO project intervention at Aida Chilembwe
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Art & Global Health Center Africa

Location: Zomba - Malawi
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Twitter: @artgloafrica
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Zomba, Malawi
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