It was dark when the attackers crept into the refugee camp. The girl was fast asleep when the first gunshot rang. She woke up with a start. She had been exposed to a conflict zone before to miss the unmistakable clap of gun fire. More shots followed and bullets whizzed past. The camp went berserk. Screams from terrified people flooded the scene.
Somewhere in Dowa district, in a village called Lilambwe, there is a girl named Esinala. Every morning at 8 AM, she bids farewell to her parents, shoulders her bag and sets for Dzaleka Trading Centre – a journey that takes about an hour on foot. Although the trip is long and exhausting, Esinala keeps a smile on her face knowing that she will return home later that afternoon with some money.
When we walked into the compound on that cloudless Thursday afternoon of 6 March 2017, the place was buzzing with kids. Jolly male and female schoolchildren donning sky blue ponchos as uniforms played within the premises, some chasing each other around while others simply watched the fun from a distance. A group of teachers meekly supervised the kids as a few other teachers who sat on chairs socialized with some of the children.
There is nothing more disturbing than an internal wrangle among family members. The circumstance is even more troubling if the family feuds lead to tortures and force members to escape to another country. Moving from a peaceful settlement straight into refugee life because one is threatened by their own relatives is a gruesome challenge.
When Bulaiton Natison graduated from the carpentry class of our vocational training programme earlier this year, he had a serious ambition – to launch his own carpentry business. It was a dream he was planning to pursue. Bulaiton realized that setting up a small business workshop would also go a long way towards self sustenance. He had received a set of toolkits after he graduated, of course, but the tools were not sufficient to launch a full scale small workshop.
That was what Aubrey Banda boldly told us. Aubrey is a carpenter. He graduated from our carpentry class in 2015. In a rural community where Aubrey comes from, earning even 5 thousand Kwacha is considered quite an achievement. Today, the man can make 30 thousand Kwacha per week but that was not the case in the past.
Their house is small, dry floored with mud and still in the construction phase. It stands alone along a dusty road and is among one of the several of such houses in this rural community. This is the remotest part of Dowa district, about 22 kilometres away. Two goats lie lazily just near the front […]
Female bricklayers… It is not everyday that one bumps into a woman holding a spirit level and building a house or maybe sliding under a vehicle to fix a mechanical fault. In many countries – if not all – construction and engineering trades are heavily dominated by males, forcing some to believe that females cannot engage in those areas.
The open letter to President Peter Mutharika by Mr. Kamwembe, Advisor to Northern Region Development Association, and a number of other recent articles on the issue of refugees in Malawi have caused me great concern. These writings are often stripped of facts and isolated from any context. I was born in a refugee settlement in DR […]