Addressing healthy settings in Malawi
Late last year, three community open days were conducted under the RE:ACTIVE My Life My Choice project which was initiated with SCHI at Mfera secondary school in 2014. Seeing the impact these activities had on in-school youth, the SCHI team used funds from stage two of the University of Strathclyde RE:ACTIVE funding to support community events which focussed on out of school youth.
Three community events were organized to give youths who dropped out of school an opportunity to discuss their life choices and future opportunities, Building on the theme from 2014, “My Life My Choice, I can do this”, aimed to trigger individual non-school going youth to take proactive role in positive life choices and good health. The events saw more than 500 youths engage in life changing activities and sports with Malawian leading super stars namely Mary Waya and Peter Mponda among other guests from the local health Centre, Malawi Polytechnic students and Peace Corps volunteers.
Youth were mobilised by the SCHI team prior to the event to discuss challenges in daily life. These included early marriage, early pregnancy and lack of vocational skills. As such. the programme of sports, discussions and peer to peer interactions aimed to address these issues for both boys and girls.
From these events one talented Mfera netball player was recruited to Mary Wayas netball academy after she saw the potential she had and the greatness of harnessing talent.
Following community youth open days, Mary Waya and Peter Mponda noted lack of netball and football coaching skills in the local sports teams respectively. So, sports coaching of coaches and teams was arranged. Three thunder Queens Players (Mary Waya’s Academy team) visited Mfera netball players for a day and taught them formal netball skills. And they also spent another day training the coaches for the netball teams on how they can keep on mentoring their team members.
“We thank these fellow youths who have given us netball skills. Normally, here we just play without following rules we couldn’t even know our positions properly and what we are supposed to do or not”-Ellenor Banda (Chinkole Netballer).
The football coaches from the 6 Mfera teams had a chance of visiting the city of Blantyre to be mentored by Peter Mponda and his colleagues.
“This is a great initiative. We have never had a chance to be mentored by anyone and in particular a Malawian star. We will extend the skills to our team members and fellow youths”–Bendulo Scova (Kaputeni team A coach).
Well mentored the teams were now ready to put the skills into practice and a Mfera tournament was launched for both girls (netball) and boys (football). The sports events attracted hundreds of people including chiefs of respective teams, and youth found this experience not only exciting but also as an opportunity to stay engaged and recognized by their community that they too can take roles in activities and engage in sports and development. The youth were excited to have the newly rehabilitated grounds and new sports equipment received through RE: ACTIVE from the James Sim Trust.
“From the events and the tournament we have learnt a lot. We have obtained leadership skills, events organizing skills and self-reliance”–Frank London (Moyo Wanga Chisankho Changa committee chairman).