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Student charity goes from strength to strength in Malawi

Date 9.04.2018

A Malawi-based charity, founded by a University of Northampton student, has now opened its second school on its quest to empower Malawian women.

United Amayi provides conversational English training and work experience to vulnerable women in Malawi who have not had the opportunity of education.

The charity, founded by third year International Development student Emma Leering, opened its first school in Mangochi in 2014, a rural area of southern Malawi.

It opened a second school earlier this year on the outskirts of the capital, Lilongwe. The charity has now seen over 100 women graduate from its programme and advance onto further employment opportunities.

Emma, 22 from Cardiff, has been working closely with her team of five Malawian volunteers to expand their influence within the community even further.

Emma said: “We’ve now created a third section – so we have education, employment and we are now about to launch our ‘enterprise’ section. I’ll be flying out in June for a couple of months, before I graduate, to help start it up.

“This comprises of an agricultural programme, so we have a piece of land next to the new school, and on this land each student will have a 1sqm plot of their own to maintain. They’ll be trained on crop rotation, irrigation and other useful information from local agricultural experts, with the aim for them to grow your own food.”

As Emma explains, this programme will be fully sustainable and is well backed by the region, which is regularly struck by droughts and floods.

“We’ve partnered with local social enterprises and charities to bring this to life. The education we’ll provide is free, as the money that the crop generates actually pays for the school, so the whole project is in itself sustainable, scalable and environmentally friendly.

“The school is seven hours away by car (from the capital) and it’s in the poorest and most rural area of Malawi. Access to food is a major issue, they have one crop each year, so if disaster strikes that year then they lose it all.

“We are hoping that our agricultural programme will give them up to four crops a year, so that if one or two are destroyed, then they still have one to sell and one to eat.”

Emma credits the University of Northampton’s Changemaker Hub for helping expand the charity’s horizons and achieve further funding. The Changemaker Hub provides students with volunteering opportunities, work placements, internships, part-time jobs, advice and support.

“The Changemaker Hub team has been incredible – the workshops they put on through the Give it a go grant are always really helpful, and the networking events have been great for me in creating links with different people.

“They have really helped me expand this whole project, offering me advice and support with this new enterprise section and the agricultural project and they encouraged me to go forward with the application for the grant – which we won. I know that United Amayi would not be where it is today had it not been for the support the University has offered.”

For further information on United Amayi, visit the website.