Today, I want to spend a little time discussing real life challenges that our youth are facing and likely to continue to face even more going forward. A few days ago, at some office in Blantyre, I met a young man. He asked to help me carry my bag. I politely declined but went on to chat with him a little. His courtesy and sensitivity kindled my interest in him.
As we chatted, I discovered that this young man is actually a cleaner. He had worked from 5.45am and he was now knocking off at 4.30pm. I wanted to know more about his life and he told me that he stays at the opposite side of the city and walks two hours in the morning to work and another two hours back in the evening. In fact, he starts walking at 4am to be in time at work before 6am. In the evening, he walks back from nearly 5pm and arrives at home at almost 7pm.
Luckily, I was driving in the direction of his home and so I offered him a lift. This gave us a good 20 minutes of chatting in the car. I dropped him off at a place where I had a meeting and he still had some 30 minutes to go walking—at least he had cut off the other 1.5 hours of walking. He narrated to me how he dropped out of a tertiary education programme after his father, who was paying his fees and supporting his upkeep, had died. He started doing piece works to make ends meet.
Some three years ago, he found a steady job as a cleaner but earns a meagre wage of around K19 500. From that sum, he pays rent at K7 500, leaving him with a balance of only K12 000 to last his whole month. With this amount, he has to buy food for the month, heating and energy, other utilities, toiletries, airtime and all his daily needs. When I asked him how he handles he lunches and breakfast, he told me that he cannot afford any of those and so he only does one small meal a day, at night upon return home.
If he was in the vicinity of his workplace, that would have greatly minimised his challenges as he wouldn’t be spending four hours walking every day and that would conserve the little energy he has every day. However, he told me that all locations near his offices are either very expensive or if affordable, then they are the insecure one where all his goods would easily be stolen during the day while he is at his workplace as has happened to a few of his colleagues.
I was so touched by his story. I have talked to several people like him recently. These are nice and innocent young people who completed their secondary education with reasonable grades. They may not be generous but they are sharp enough to do a good job and earn a decent living. But they have little opportunities in life. While we may not have immediate solutions for such people, it is worth bringing such stories to light. I don’t think that many that are comfortable in life regularly come to face these stories. Even when they do, I doubt that they spend time thinking hard about this.
For those in influential positions, including politicians and big business people, this is a challenge to create more jobs that at least pay wages that employees can live on.
The other big lesson is for the young people. Work to fight for your share of the few good opportunities in life. It will rarely be easy. You will not breakthrough without effort and persistence. You have to persevere as you fight for your share. Have unending hope. Work hard in spite of the challenges you face. Pray for a breakthrough so that you can come out of the major challenges that life brings upon you. Remember that with our fast growing population, these problems will become even worse. Be ready to fight even harder until you breakthrough! Feedback: email@example.com