By Rasheeq Islam
Dream Village Malawi is a project in Malawi which aims to empower youths to dream big and grab future opportunities. The Project was started by Kohei Hirota from Osaka, Japan. Kohei's plan is to help youths in Malawi become self-sufficient enough to start their own businesses. One of their first projects was getting a small village in Malawi connected to the internet. Thanks to the provision of internet services, youth in that village are taking online courses and are knowing more about the world.
The idea originated when Kohei was in his final year at university. He had just finished an internship at Audi and was getting ready to start his new career. As he was transitioning from being a university student to a full-time worker, Kohei desired to take a break from his normal life and do something that he was passionate about. In order to take a break, he started painting and making videos. For one of his videos, he was looking to incorporate people from different parts of the world. He was surprised and intrigued when he couldn't find someone from Africa. His curiosity led him to a guy from Malawi. His new friend loved to talk and they had a lot of conversations. Through these conversations, he realized how privileged he was compared to people in other parts of the world. This event made him change his goal in life. Instead of becoming a full-time worker, he wanted to go to Malawi and help the people there.
After about a month, he visited a village in Malawi and saw the lack of opportunities the people had. They didn’t have internet, which for Kohei was a basic need. He realized that with his knowledge and connections, he could make an impact in the village. With that idea, he started ‘Dream Village Malawi’. Along the way, he faced a lot of obstacles.
First, it was tough for him to raise funds at the beginning because the project was a new initiated and people didn’t trust him enough. He sourced for funds from people he knew and little by little he started to raise money. After his second trip to Malawi, during which he carried out the internet project, it was easier for him to raise funds as people began to have faith in him. It also took a while for him to convince the local people in Malawi. He realized that in his country Japan, people had so many people to look up to whereas youths in Malawi had no one. They had no role model. He thought to himself that if merely bringing funds to the village won’t be enough, he would become an inspiration for them so that they themselves can start taking action.
In the coming years, he first wants to help youths take advantage of the resources in Malawi. Fishing he noticed, has big potential there and he hopes to help them establish a business in it. Kohei believes that everyone should take time to find their purpose in life. He in his final year of university was going to settle for a job like a typical university graduate would but this one step of finding himself led him to this social project. After you find a purpose in life, he says, "It's all about how we take action”.