Prince Harry on Tuesday wound up his visit to Malawi with an interaction with youths in Chiradzulu who have described their meeting as a rare opportunity that has inspired them.
Coming from poor backgrounds in Mauwa Village in Traditional Authority Ntchema in Chiradzulu, the youth mirror the lives of many youths in rural Malawi whose dreams to realise their full potential are thwarted by abject poverty, poor social services and lack of inspiration from role models. In the end, many of them drop out of school early, get married at tender ages and engage in behaviours that endanger their lives.
Present on Tuesday at the meeting was one such youth, Pilirani Mkweza, 20, whose journey in life has been marred by setbacks at every turn. She said both her mother and father died while she was young, then she got pregnant at 15 and eventually dropped out of school.
With such experiences, she said she had already given up hope in life.
But after interacting with the Duke of Sussex for almost 15 minutes alongside her colleagues under the shade of a gigantic mahogany tree, Pilirani said the sad part of her life was drowned in the ecstatic sea of excitement over his words of inspiration.
“His advice that we should never give up in life was so touching. I felt special in that moment. From now, I will never feel discouraged again despite the circumstances,” she said.
With her face beaming with joy, Mkweza said she will go back to school to further her studies.
Another youth from the same village, Richard Chikwata, 22, described his meeting with the Duke of Sussex as a turning point in his life.
“I did not have a clear agenda of my life. I just lived my life as an everyday event without setting future aspirations. But the Prince encouraged us to be ambitious in life, to set a vision of what we want to become in five or 10 years time,” he said.
At 11.39am, the Duke of Sussex left the youth awe-stricken as they watched him disappear into the throng and off into a waiting vehicle.
It was no doubt the Prince held the youth in high regard, judging by the length of time he spent with them.
When he arrived at at 10.45am, the Prince went straight to see the prefabricated storage unit at the health centre which is among the 353 drug storage units installed in health facilities across the country with funding from the United Kingdom and United States of America governments.
There, he spent about five minutes and proceeded to see the tents pitched by Population Services International (PSI) where sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services are provided to women and youths, with funding from the UK as well.
The team from PSI explained to the Prince what happens behind the veils when women come to receive SRH services.
PSI reproductive health technical adviser Caroline Bakasa said she was excited to show the Prince the mobile outreach team that provides sexual reproductive health (SRH) services to people in the villages and why the veils were pitched.
“Now more women in the area are accessing SRH services in the district because the services are available and we are close to them.
“However, our emphasis is on both married women and the youth as we hope to contribute to the reduction of teenage pregnancies by 2024,” she said.
Minister of Health Jappie Mhango, who welcomed the Prince at the health facility, said government appreciates UK’s assistance.
“The modern facilities will enable hospitals to store drugs in good condition,” he said.
Prince Harry arrived in Malawi on Sunday as part of his tour of southern Africa. The same day, he met President Peter Mutharika at Kamuzu Palace, visited Nalikule Community College. On Monday he visited Liwonde National Park before winding up his Malawi tour at Mauwa Health Centre in Chiradzulu.