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Lighting Up a New Era in Malawi’s Plumbing Sector

Leah Mtachila, a 22-year-old woman from Mponela, is making a name for herself in Malawi’s plumbing industry. She has been a part of a project called “Light Up” run by There Is Hope. The project, funded by the Petra Family through Welthungerhilfe (WHH), offers vocational training to young adults, including refugees and people with disabilities. The Light Up Project, which is a two-year project, aims at training 45 vulnerable refugee and Malawian young adults between the ages of 18 to 40, including people with disabilities, in Solar Photovoltaic Installation, and Plumbing.

For 22 Leah, the Light Up project has given her a pathway towards achieving her lifelong dream. Today, she is a partner at Maranatha Plumbing Specialists, a plumbing service provider at the Trading Centre.

Leah’s journey to becoming a partner at the plumbing firm is a narrative of ambition. It is a story that tells of the aspirations of countless young women in Malawi who are breaking barriers and venturing into domains traditionally reserved for men. Leah’s dream of owning a plumbing company is slowly materializing as she gets the necessary skills and insights from her current role.

“My ambition has always been to own my own plumbing company. I am here to get practical skills and gain insights into the business. Soon I will open mine,” she says.

From earning inadequate wages as a mobile money agent, to working as a secretary, Leah’s path took a decisive turn when she discovered the Light Up Program at the There is Hope Training institution in Dzaleka. Despite initial resistance from her parents, Leah’s determination saw her through the program, and her success has since transformed her family’s perception.

Through the skills and expertise gained at TIH in the Light Up Project, Leah has become a pillar of support for her family, contributing to her younger brother’s education and uplifting her parents’ spirits.

“My parents are small scale  Leah at workbusinesspersons. Now I am able to support my parents, and this year I have managed to pay examination fees for my younger brother. My parents today support me,” she beams with pride.

Her success is a shining example of the transformative power of the Light Up project, which aims to sustainably improve the living conditions of youth in Dzaleka Refugee Camp and rural Malawi through Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programs, focusing on plumbing and solar photovoltaic installation.

“I am very proud of how far I have come. I am able to handle any plumbing issues with ease, no matter how hard. The course prepared me well for this experience,” says Leah.

Since graduating, Leah has found her way back to TIH Training Centre for a post training support program under WHH, which seeks to equip graduates like Leah with digital literacy and business planning skills, preparing them for the modern marketplace.

The post-training support has been instrumental in Leah’s development. The digital literacy skills training she received in 2024 at the There Is Hope training Centre has opened new avenues for her business.

“I am proud of the path I have taken. The digital skills I have acquired will help me set up my business and advertise online. At first, I though there are only traditional means to getting clients. Now my world has been broadened,” she said.

Leah’s story highlights the transformative power of education and vocational skills development. As Leah and others like her set up their businesses and secure employment in plumbing and other trade, they pave the way for a brighter future for themselves and their communities.

The success of the Light Up program is evident in the number of youths it has trained in plumbing and other trades. Vulnerable youths like Leah are not only finding employment but are also becoming entrepreneurs, setting up their own businesses and contributing to the economic growth of their communities.