One morning, 16-year-old Tawina Chaposa and four other girls boarded a plane at Kamuzu International Airport to the United States (US) for three weeks under the Pan-African Youth Leadership Programme (PAYLP).
Having returned from what she called a successful trip, Tawina, a student at Mulunguzi Secondary School in Zomba, says it was one educative and entertaining trip.
She says that the youth everywhere can effect change in their communities and countries.
“We were equipped with leadership skills- how we can lead fellow students to develop our communities and country. I am actually discussing with one of the girls I travelled with, Sheila M’bawa from Chilunga Community Day Secondary School [CDSS] to do something about sanitation in Zomba,” says Chaposa.
Angelissa Limbe from St Louis Montfort CDSS is the teacher who accompanied the five girls on the trip.
She says they had a great experience interacting with girls and teachers from other African countries.
“From the ideas and knowledge we shared, I realised that we can make changes in our communities. It does not always require many people; even one person can bring about change in a community,” she said.
Further, she observed that the youth have great ideas, which if taken seriously and implemented communities would be transformed to the benefit of the country.
Limbe says the five Malawian girls that went on the trip; Ivy Namaranya, Caroline Samu, Esther Chosalana, M’bawa and Chaposa presented special projects on bringing girls back to school among other things.
“Looking at existing number of girls dropping out at secondary schools, the figures are alarming. But then, we all know that if you educate a girl, you educate the nation.
“We also observed that not many women hold high positions in both the private and public sectors. But if they got educated, they would be able to take up those positions. So, girls need to be encouraged and our girls showcased projects in those areas,” says Limbe.
PAYLP is a US Government funded programme that provides secondary school participants with a unique educational exchange experience.
It promotes mutual understanding and strengthens the connections between the people of the United States and Sub-Saharan Africa; and has created an impressive alumni base of young African leaders who continue to impact their communities.