STEKA Skills Centre Development- Anna Gilleard’s visit early 2024

STEKA Skills Centre continues to flourish! It has made a total transformation since its conception in 2015. Over the past eight years, Godknows has developed building work of nearly all classrooms, dorms, canteen, offices, dining and leisure space and there is also a sports stadium being built. The Skills Centre has also a water container and solar panels to supply water and energy provision for the Centre. The classrooms span tailoring, hairdressing, child development, music, IT and accountancy; some of which have already started hosting lessons with local teachers.

As of April this year, the building team are constructing the music sound production and photography studio, the toilets and the canteen/tuck shop. The final project will be the girls-only boarding dorm and adjoining social spaces. This dorm is intended only for girls and young women attending the Centre’s training courses as Godknows wanted to ensure female students who may have lengthy, complicated or unsafe journeys home would have a safe place to reside in term time. Outside the vocational training facilities, Godknows wants the Skills Centre to focus on daytime provisions for students: namely, food and necessary health and sanitation amenities.

Godknows has planted over 100 young banana saplings, which take around one year to mature into fruiting trees. In the next 8-9 months they estimate to be in a position to sell the bananas. The hope is to sell 700 p/year, which would bring in around 20,000 MWK to support the family. Godknows’ ambitious plans are for these, along with maize, and a variety of gonafont (fruit) trees to be cultivated to generate another source of sustainable income for STEKA.

As well as the farming projects, Godknows plans to rent out the sports pitch in-development, and currently rents out gazebos and chairs to generate income. They are well connected to the community and invest in these relationships, for example with school governors, churches, and other local charities. This raises awareness of STEKA and the needs of the young people, it fosters healthy working relationships with schools and local council, but it is also outward facing. STEKA is well known and admired locally, and these links help to ensure the children’s safety in the neighbourhood. It is this dual purpose of these networking efforts that create a real sense of STEKA’s community connectedness.

STEKA have many exciting plans and goals for further development, but these are not without their challenges. Food insecurity and geopolitical climate issues mean that maize and rice prices continue to soar, and regular supply is a constant battle. Godknows regularly has to make the decision to redirect funding away from these important development projects to the immediate food needs of the family.

Every donation counts. Together we must continue to support STEKA in every way we can to meet daily living needs amidst contextual challenges but also to invest in their long-term sustainability goals.