When Vera Banda and Faless Jeremiah started their project, they seemed inspired by the old proverb, “An idle mind is like a seed in a hand, remaining unplanted.”
They felt many Malawian youth were becoming complacent, losing the motivation and drive to achieve as much as they could. Through their Students With Dreams project Tsogololathu-Rhythm, the pair decided to create a wave of positive change for young Malawians in secondary schools. These students were ‘our Tsogololathu’ which translates to ‘Our Future” in the local dialect.
Vera and Faless went to local secondary schools encouraging students to believe in a better future for themselves through participatory workshops - using rhythm, spoken word poetry, team-building activities, and activities geared towards cultivating self-respect and inspiration to address challenges on an artistic platform. Students were energized and motivated to achieve more.
The project has also had a profound effect on Vera and Faless, helping them grow as leaders. By mobilizing a team of like-minded people, using creativity to enhance outcomes, and leading passionately, so that those you lead may also one day lead—one is bound to grow in their leadership.
Faless now mentors new Dreamers and is pursuing a Master of Economics degree. This allows her to combine her academic interests with social justice. “My dream has always been to study Economics. Because I see my people suffer, I want to know and understand this economy that allows this to happen."
That same determination and confidence is shared by Vera. She is confident in herself as a young woman, a young leader, and a game-changer. She is outspoken and relentlessly pursues her artistic path—to paint landscapes with poetry instead of a paintbrush!
Vera refuses to confine herself in the boxes provided by society and believes this has, at times, made her misunderstood. “I speak my mind mostly and sometimes this might be a problem to soft spoken individuals.” She says, without a blink of apology in her eyes.
Students With Dreams will always be proud of the work these two fiercely determined young women have done to build up secondary school students’ self-confidence and ambition.
Read The Nation's profile of Faless and her project Tsogolo-Lathu Rhythm.