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Living the ‘Malawi Dream’ from rented fields

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THRIVING—Andrea and his family pose in
front of their house

The story of Andrea Dalitsani, 25, would sound like a fairy tale from some old children story book. But it is not. This is a true account of this ambitious young man whom I paid a visit at his house on one rainy Sunday afternoon.

After arriving at his home in Kaimvi Village in Dedza, I wait for about an hour to meet him since he was some five kilometers away, busy gardening at his soy bean field.

Andrea apologises for keeping me waiting, attributing it to the huge work of weeding in his field following continuous rains the previous four days.

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But to me, I am just glad that finally I get to meet this young man.

At 25, Andrea has already attained what we may call the ‘Malawi Dream’. He is the proud owner of a four-bedroomed house constructed with burnt bricks, a grocery shop within his perimeter-walled compound and has some livestock that include goats and chickens.

This is something unheard of among his folks bearing in mind he started from zero and everything he has now is self-made.

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Andrea says his current state dates back to 2015 after realising that he had limited opportunities to advance in life with his Malawi School Certificate of Education obtained in 2012.

“I left my parents in Kasungu and came to Dedza to live with my grandparents in search of better opportunities.

“It is here that I joined Kaimvi Youth Club in Traditional Authority Kachere in Dedza,” Andrea says.

This group is one of the youth clubs run by World Vision International (WVI).

It teaches the youth various aspects of finance management such as budgeting, savings, planning and good usage of money in groups or individually.

From the knowledge that he acquired from the club, Andrea set about proving that the youth have the potential to do better by venturing into small-scale commercial farming.

“I started by doing menial piecework back in 2015 for established farmers where I earned sum money,” he recalls.

He saved the proceeds from the piecework and bought a piece of land and built a house. In 2016, he had it roofed and it awaits some final touches, including installation of solar power.

The other part of the money, he rented a farm field and grew soy bean where he realised K60,000.

Three years down the line, Andrea now rents four fields on which he grows soy bean, sweet potatoes, tomato, maize, groundnuts and sugar cane. He gets about K350,000 per plot from his four rented plots.

In the 2017- 2018 growing season, Andrea expects to get over K500,000 per plot.

But what has been the major secret to his achievements?

Firstly, his says, is adherence to family planning.

“Poverty comes because of uncontrolled childbearing and lack of advance planning in everything you do,” Andrea says.

He says he is currently satisfied with the one child he and his wife Christina, 20, have. She is a three-year-old daughter named Grace.

He, however, reveals that they are planning to have another child only after their financial situation improves; a thing that Christina nods to.

“This will also give me time to help in growing our business and raising well the child we have now” he adds.

Secondly, it is proper finance management.

“As a key member of Kaimvi Youth Club, I make use of the knowledge I get from various trainings. In this club, we conduct some skill transfer activities among ourselves and I always put them into practice,” says Andrea, sounding confident and proud.

Furthermore, Andrea also utilises the knowledge he gets from WVI facilitators who oversee the youth club’s activities through Action for Adolescence (A4A) Project.

A4A seeks to empower the youth in becoming independent and self-dependent, according to Andrea, whose vision is to engage in large-scale farming and provide employment opportunities to other people.

Charity Kabwazi is Chairperson of Kaimvi Youth Club, which has a membership of 19 people. She salutes Andrea as a role model to the youth in the village.

“His success has inspired club and non-club members to strive for success and be like him,” Kabwazi says.

She hails the impact of WVI that has seen most youths changing their wayward behaviours and start concentrating on developing their lives for positive change.

Kabwazi, however, appeals to WVI to consider empowering the youth more with an injection of huge capital investment for the growth of their businesses.

WVI District Project Officer for DedzaThandeka Nkhonde says it is their vision to see the youth standing on their own.

“The youth make up the majority of the country’s population and if they are socially and economically empowered, the country would transform socially and economically,” says Nkhonde.

For Andrea, he is so eager to advance from the current situation.

As we conclude our talk, he pensively gazes into the sky and as if speaking to himself, slowly says: “This all feels like a dream that I will at one point wake up from, but no, it is really me Andrea Dalitsani. Next time we meet, I would be at another level enjoying my success, you would not believe how far I would have gone.”

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