The Single and Self-Reliant Young Lutia
Lutia, who is 23 years old, is single and without a child. Many people in her town are shocked by this, as the majority of her age group are either married or have more than two kids. “I don’t want to enter marriage too quickly, or have a child before marriage. I first wish to accomplish my objectives. I can then start looking for a spouse after that. Nowadays, men in my community just impregnate young girls and then leave them to hang”. Lutia declares with assurance, “I don’t want to be the next victim”. She resides in Rural Lilongwe’s Nambuma and works as a tailor at Nambuma Trading Center. Many young women of her age favour getting married or engaging in transactional sex with older guys in order to sustain themselves financially”. Some of these girls don’t view vocational education as a means of securing a living. The simple solution—transactional sex—is what they crave. I generally tell them that they can take care of themselves and don’t need to rely on men,” she said.
In her last tests for secondary school, Lutia did poorly. I had a good chance at school. I regret that I didn’t take it. I don’t hang myself for that either, as I also know that I wasn’t going to be able to pass the examinations either, especially with the Covid19 pandemic,” she claims. She completed her secondary education at Chingwalu, a community day secondary school. After receiving her terrible grades, she wished to return to secondary school but was unable to do so owing to a lack of funds for school expenses. Her father, a subsistence farmer, was unable to pay the fees any longer. “Instead of concentrating solely on running the business, you need to have options,” she added. “One day I will retake my secondary school exams to earn a certificate.”
That decision not to attend secondary school again gave Lutia a new outlook. After a few days alone, she began looking for other means of achieving independence. As their father could no longer afford her secondary school tuition because the fees had increased, her sister then sat her down and exposed her to several vocational training courses that are provided at There is Hope.
Lutia decided on Tailoring and Fashion Design since it piqued her interest. She responded that “it came out as my passion” when we inquired about her options for skills training.
The story of Lutia’s time at There is Hope is motivational. “I didn’t know anything about tailoring before I came to There is Hope, but now I know a lot about it.” Because of this, many women visit her business to inquire about her path to become a tailor. She is now independent. After her parents bought her a sewing machine in November of last year, she began her own business. She also helps her family buy food and other essentials for the home.
Lutia, who is only 23 years old, is already a community leader and a role model. Lutia has always aspired to financial and social empowerment. “Skills training is crucial for women and girls. As for me, I am capable of supporting myself, therefore I cannot rush into marriage in pursuit of financial support. In contrast to other girls who remain inactive at their respective houses, this business also keeps me busy. They are susceptible to abusive males,” said Lutia.
Since Lutia recognizes that everyone has a unique set of abilities, she teamed up with a self-taught woman tailor with whom she can share knowledge and business concepts. “We have also benefited greatly from learning from one another as women. One of the business strategies I picked up at There is Hope is cooperation.
We questioned her once more on her level of independence, and she responded, “I’m doing OK. Here, commerce is at hand. Particularly on market days, when I can make up to $20 a day. Remember, I couldn’t even make this much in a month before the skills training,” she says.
In order to sell ready-made dresses, shorts, uniforms, and other items, Lutia plans to save money this year and then begin purchasing fabric. “That is a lucrative business. When you have ready-made products, people buy quickly, as they don’t have to wait for you to knit the same for them,” she says. Lutia’s training was made possible through WUSC’s Partner Innovation Fund, which is a 2-year project that There is Hope has entered with WUSC. 120 young adults from Dowa, Malawi, and refugees from the Dzaleka Refugee Camp will be trained as part of the project. One way that There is Hope ensures that women fully engage in the training it delivers at its campus as it works to lower the obstacles to skill training for women and girls is through the campus accommodations. Lutia claims that being on campus allowed her to focus fully on the skills training while feeling protected.