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Contance Bwanali (29) opens shutter of small knitting store she operates from within her house in Kanengo township of Area 25 in Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi. Although she knows how to knit already, but to learn more she still attends sewing and knitting class run by Youth Awareness for Social & Economical Development (YASED) in Saint Frances Parish in her neighbourhood.
Contance was 18 years old when she got married. She had just completed Form 2. Now she has three children. After the birth of Chisomo, her third child who is 5 years old now, her husband went to look for employment to South Africa and never came back. Although she had a house that her husband left behind, she still had to find a way to support her children. She joined YASED to learn knitting. Her brother bought her knitting machine. She now knits for people in her neighbourhood as well as get orders from local schools. Depending on work, she manages to earn between 8,000 to 15,000 Kwacha (about $50-100)/ month. She said, "I work hard but I just cannot earn enough to support my children properly. I want my children to have good education. It's hard to come up with money to pay for their education." "What if my husband comes back? I think I will accept him back, but I will make sure he takes HIV test first." YASED provides livelihood skills for unemployed youths through several vocational trainings including computer education, knitting, sewing and music. Currently there are 63 women and youth that benefit from programs YASED runs. UNICEF supports YASED with trainings, equipments and salaries for trainers.
© UNICEF/MLWB2010-222/Shehzad Noorani