On December 3, 2016, we held a graduation ceremony celebrating the 31 Dreamers graduating from our leadership programme, Students with Dreams, which encourages college students to become agents of social change. This year, Dreamers at three partner Colleges – Chancellor College, Domasi College of Education and the Malawi College of Health Sciences – completed 11 projects.
Throughout the day, Dreamers, mentors and alumni came together to share their experiences leading projects and brainstormed ideas to develop an effective alumni network. “It is important to note that the change you make goes a long way,” one Dreamer observed, “Never under estimate the impact that your project brings to other people.”
Reflecting on this year’s Dreamers, Executive Director Helen Todd said: “It's exciting to see the range of ideas the young people come up with when they are provided with a platform to explore what they are passionate about and to see what they are willing to do to improve the communities they live in. I am so proud of the way they have collaborated to help each other to overcome challenges they face in their projects. It was a great year and we look forward to meeting the next group of dreamers.”
The ceremony itself was a cheerful celebration of successes and struggles, filled with drama, poetry, dance, and musical performances. Guest of Honour Councillor James Mlekere, representing the Mayor of Zomba, declared: “I must say that I am extremely delighted to have learned that our young people are coming up with such great projects to find solutions to the many challenges facing the nation using innovative arts under the banner of Students with Dreams. This is indeed a very commendable occasion that serves as a call of duty for the young to serve their motherland.”
Other notable guests included representatives from the three Colleges and members of regional and national youth leadership organisations. SWD alumni from the 2011-2014 classes converged from all over the country to support this year’s graduating Dreamers and inspire them to continue the work they are doing.
The first youth leadership programme of its kind in Malawi, Students with Dreams provides youth with training, mentorship and seed funding to develop creative and innovative projects that address pressing social issues. Since the programme started in 2011, SWD has graduated 95 students who have realised 46 projects in the 3 colleges and surrounding areas in Zomba.