Bixon Phiri – Graduate of Carpentry Training at MACOHA’s Dowa CBR
Bixon Phiri was born with two club feet, affecting his mobility. This was not uncommon when Bixon was a child, though now it is something that can be operated on at an early age to correct. He is married with three children, and his parents also live with him. Prior to being selected for carpentry training at MACOHA’s Dowa CBR, Bixon worked growing maize and groundnuts, what he describes as ‘piece work’. He was unable to earn sufficient money to provide for his family, and his physical disability made farming activities difficult.
Bixon heard about the community-based training that MACOHA were providing, through its partnership with The Global Concerns Trust and decided to apply. He was visited by CBR and they registered his training needs. As admission on to the training was assessed both by need and an interview to determine motivation, he was delighted to be accepted as one of six male trainees.
“My life has changed completely, I am doing things I was not able to do in the past before I went for training. I was farming and it was not easy because the products I harvested were not enough, I was selling the harvested maize to earn money to buy some things at home, hence we were struggling for food since we were selling maize and not keeping enough for food.”
Bixon started his carpentry training at MACOHA’s Dowa CBR in November 2009. During the year-long training, he learnt the skills to become a carpenter.He graduated in November 2010, and was supplied with a carpentry tool-kit, comprising of tools that had been refurbished by TFSR workshops in Scotland, and shipped to Malawi.
Following graduation, Bixon started up his carpentry business in his village. Furniture orders started coming in soon afterwards. Bixon is now able to earn a living from his carpentry business. His work is of an excellent standard, and he and his family now are viewed with increased esteem in his village. Bixon now has a shop at the Community Training Centre and is passing on his carpenter skills by training others in his village.
“Other people in the community are admiring me and wish they can be trained as well and do what I am doing.”
“My life has changed completely through the project, for example as of now, I have so many customers who buy chairs, tables, and other furniture and with the money they give me I am helping my relatives, buying food, clothes and I am supporting the family without doing piece work and the family is now happy.”
A sustainable livelihood through a carpentry business was the project objective and this Bixon is realizing. Bixon is able to support himself and his extended family as a result of his business, and is contributing towards the development of his community by sharing his skills.
“I was unable to contribute towards the development of my community before, because most of my time was spent on piece work to earn money. But with coming of the MACOHA / Global Concerns Trust Project I am able to do so many things with the skills I learned through the project.”
MACOHA’s Dowa training project is already getting a good local reputation for the quality of the goods the graduates are producing. On visiting the project in March 2011, TFSR Workshop leader and Global Concerns Trustee, Richard Firth was very impressed with the quality of Bixon’s products. Bixon is now economically self-reliant, and a proud artisan – for himself, his family and his village.