A young grassroots Scottish charity which works in close partnership with Queen Margaret University (QMU), Edinburgh, was given an award at a ceremony last week attended by Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal.
The Scotland-Malawi Partnership (SMP) hosted its fourth annual Members Awards programme in Edinburgh City Chambers on Thursday 5 September. The awards aim to help members tells their story, celebrate strong links between Scotland and Malawi, and further raise public awareness and support for the bilateral relationship.
Honorary Patron, HRH The Princess Royal, presented the award to a group of STEKAskills trustees including Emma Wood, Senior Lecturer at QMU, chair of STEKAskills and board member of the Malawian charity, STEKA (Step Kids Awareness). STEKAskills is headquartered at QMU.
STEKA is a not-for-profit organisation based in Blantye Malawi, led by grassroots activist and social entrepreneur, Godknows Maseko – an ex-‘street kid’ – and his wife Helen, who campaign for children’s rights and gender equality. For more than ten years, STEKA have developed an innovative model for creating sustainable futures for street children, establishing a family home for 73 vulnerable young people and supporting many more to live safely and sustainably in their own homes.
QMU students have worked on STEKA projects since 2015 and the University has hosted three young STEKA residents on QMU degree programmes on a fee waiver basis since then. The ways in which these young people inspired QMU students (and vice versa) as well as other members of the wider QMU community (such as Rotary clubs and St John’s and Mary Magdeline churches) led to the formation of the STEKAskills charity in December last year.
Malawians Godknows and Helen Maseko and young STEKA resident, Gift Thompson (age 22) are all trustees alongside QMU lecturer, Lisa Luhanga and her Malawian musician husband Davie Luhanga, Blessings Kachale (who studied for her MSc and PhD at QMU) and members of the Portobello community and beyond – Lisa Carter, Sally Hinchliffe, Catherine McAnenny, Kathleen Mcloone Bryce and Gary Zoltie.
QMU, STEKAskills and STEKA’s partnership has enabled students to work with the residents to develop a website, film and other campaign materials as well as develop innovative dialogue groups aimed at challenging the way in which some people view their volunteering experiences in Malawi and empowering young Malawians to take charge visits to their home.
Emma said: "STEKAskills is driven by the value of ‘umodzi’ (unity) and we pride ourselves on the fact that we power share at all levels- our board of trustees includes Scots, Malawians and Malawian diaspora – and our work is all about building solidarity so that communities and young people can pull together to change the world!
"We feel enormously proud that, despite not even being a year old yet, we have received this award from an organisation we really admire – especially as the judging panel was half Malawian and half Scottish.
"Driving cultural change from a very grassroots community base isn’t easy. We don’t have the resources many charities have, so this recognition is an important way of inspiring everyone to keep on going."
Click here to find out more about STEKA.
[Photos by Kirsty Bain]
Notes to Editor
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