From Malawi For Malawi - Vickness's life
Malawi Wawi staff member Vickness Banda, 24, tells her story of growing up in poverty and explains how her personal journey made her determined to help improve the lives of young Malawi girls.
Vickness Banda can still remember walking miles without shoes along a dusty track to reach school every day.
As she and her little brother were raised by a single mum after the death of their father, Vickness knew at an early age how hard it was for her struggling family to make ends meet. Especially as her mum, without any formal education of her own, was barely making enough money to keep them all by selling bananas and vegetables.
So at the time when she was due to enrol for high school, without the fees to pay for her education, Vickness knew she had to find work and earn enough money to pay for herself.
“It was not easy to work in domestic child labour and go to school at the same time, but me and my brother had already been forced to drop out of primary school because of the lack of money so I was really determined to try and change my life."
“I worked hard, got good grades and managed to get a scholarship halfway through"
“Without the scholarship I won, I can’t imagine I would be where I am today. It not only covered my school fees but also the personal things I needed.”
Vickness excelled and completed her teaching training at the age of 21 and was later offered a teaching position at Chintheche Primary School in Kapeska.
Now working as a classroom supervisor, project surveyor, interpreter and sanitary health educator at Malawi Wawi, Vickness says having the opportunity to help others has helped her overcome the memories of the childhood hardship she and her family endured. Her husband Julius Banda, one of the founders of Malawi Wawi, shares her vision.
“The biggest challenge faced by many youngsters in Kapeska is school fees,” said Vickness. “Without education, many girls are caught up in child marriages and prostitution and this is one of the problems we are tackling.”
The Malawi Wawi charity not only provides free education and school meals but also provides a welcome opportunity for youngsters to join football, netball and volleyball clubs.
These extra-curricular activities help to encourage sporting talent and keeps them away from the exploitation of child labour, underage marriages, prostitution, and harm.
The charity also provides aspiring clothing designers and manufacturers with the platform to sell their garment as an important source of income to support their families.
Recent completed projects include a primary school which currently has more than 70 pupils and a community centre where youth and adult activities take place.