By Saloom Longwe*
Unemployment rate among graduates from formal and informal colleges is on the rise in the country. This is compounded by the tendency of most graduates is to sit on the knowledge and skills acquired and wait for the day when they will be hired.
Abigail Siyeni, a graduate from the vocational skills training programme of the Development Desk of the Diocese of Karonga defies all odds to rise above the common practice and employ herself. From her story, it is clear that she is on the path to greatness, with or without a further push.
Twenty-year-old Abigail, who hails from T/A Mwaulambia in Chitipa District, enrolled for a course in Tailoring and Designing at Nkhangwa Youth Vocational Training Centre established by the Diocese of Karonga.
She underwent a four-month long course where, together with her friends, she acquired basic tailoring skills such as fashion designing, sketching, measuring, cloth cutting and joining.
During training, the commitment of Abigail could not be missed as she could be seen sewing school uniforms, skirts and blouses, shorts and shirts, trousers, men’s and ladies’ suits and many more fashions. Most of the times, she could bring old clothes that required mending out of which she gained experience and competence.
After completing her training, Abigail negotiated with a community member to lend her a sewing machine. She was given after agreeing a monthly rental fee. She identified a place within her village and opened a tailoring shop at Kafora Trading Center where she plies her trade.
Through her dedication to duty and mastery of the art of sewing and designing, Abigail has gained a number of loyal customers who are never disappointed in what she produces for them.
Through her hard work and tailoring skills, and customer satisfaction, Abigail realizes good returns. Apart from waiting for people to bring their cloth or clothes, she also buys clothing materials out of which she produces new fashionable garments for sale.
In a good week, she buys clothing materials worth MK10,000. She produces new garments and realizes a profit of more than MK20,000 after selling. Abigail produces school uniforms which she sells at MK2,000 (blouse and skirt/ short and shirt), Safari shirts at MK3,000 and national wear at MK5,000 and ladies suits at MK8,000.
Having laid her business foundation, Abigail still aims high. She is looking for possible opportunities to grow her business and own a big tailoring shop in one of the towns in the country.
With financial support from MISEREOR, Karonga Diocese through its Development Desk is implementing a three-year Integrated Rural Development Project in Karonga and Chitipa districts targeting 2,400 households.One 0f its objectives is to train 165youthin Vocational skills by July 2020.
*Saloom Longwe is Field Officer under the Development Desk based in Chitipa District