At only 23, Emma Thokozire Kalea has been entrusted with the task of establishing the Young Women Can Do It Clubs (YWCDI) across the country.
Working as Project Coordinator for Network for Youth Development (NYED) with financial support from the Development Fund of Norway, she is driven by an African proverb "a person wanting to cross the river does not worry about wetting his feet". She shares her story with JUSTICE MPONDA.
My name is Emma Thokozire Kalea. I was born on 1st April 1988. I have got one sister and one brother. I come from Rumphi District in Chief Katumbi, Chilukuni Village. Currently I am working at Network for Youth Development which is supported by Development Fund of Norway as a Project Coordinator for Young Women Can do it project.
I did my primary school at Rose Garden Private School and was selected to Stella Maris Secondary School from 2001 to 2004. I was selected to University of Malawi, Chancellor College where I persuaded my Bachelors of Arts Humanities where I majored in Fine Arts and minoring in English Literature, and Marketing Psychology. Currently I am upgrading my studies in Marketing at the Polytechnic.
My job as a Project Coordinator involves establishing, coordinating and following up with Young Women Can Do It Clubs (YWCDI) from across the country. I assist such clubs in the preparation of plans and execution of local activities, preparing quarterly and annual reports, analysing the expected inputs / outputs and impacts of the project, interpreting, communicating and overseeing the implementation of organizational policies in the project and representing the National Coordinator on technical/programme matters as may be delegated from time to time, just to mention a few.
I was inspired by my Aunt, Dr Wezi Mhango who is a Lecturer at Bunda College of Agriculture to dream big. She is a lady who has prospered in her career within a short period and she has remained focused.
I was raised up in Christian family of a middle class where my dad Mr Jones Kalea is an Engineer working with ESCOM and my mum Mrs Shupekire Kalea is a civil servant in the Judiciary. My mum and dad are personal advisors and i always give them much credit for a job well done. The best thing I ever had.
My future plans are on academic. I want to have a Master's Degree in Business Administration and also want to be an influential woman towards my fellow young women in Malawi especially in the rural areas so that they recognise that education is a key to success. Through high education levels, any woman can become a good leader. My further ambition is to advocate for women's and youth rights which will be achieved through my work.
What keeps me going is unconditional love from God that surrounds me each and every day and love from my family that stimulates every moment in my life. During my free time, i like either painting or drawing. On Sundays, I go to Church.
The most challenging thing about my work is the ability to reach out to many young women in the villages. There is a great need for huge civic education in the rural areas. There is always a challenge for women to be recognised as leaders in the communities especially in the rural areas due to the cultural beliefs. It is a challenge to convince communities that women can be effective leaders given a chance to be included in decision making processes.For instance, in my project, I make sure that a young woman should be a chairperson unlike it is a tradition that women are always secretaries or treasurers when leadership roles are being assigned in any group even if it is a wedding committee.
My first advice to young women is that they should put God first in whatever they are going through. My second is the one I got from this quote I heard on BBC Africa while a student at Chancellor College that "a person wanting to cross the river does not worry about wetting his feet" therefore as a young woman desiring to achieve something in her life she should not be overcome by the challenges and problems she may face but must keep on moving on until she crosses the river and lastly should refrain from drugs and any bad behaviour.
As a youth I always regret when I have failed to achieve my objectives.
My saddest moment was in 2003 when my mum was involved in a car accident while I was in Form 3. This affected my life and my happiest moment was when I started working with Network for Youth Development in 2010 because all along I had a strong passion to work with fellow youths in achieving and making decisions in development issues in Malawi.
I see myself as a person who is able to mix with all people of all ages and I always smile like my mum. That's how unique I am.