What does economic empowerment mean? It means having the ability to determine your own future. It means not worrying about where your next meal will come from. It means being able to provide for your family. It means feeling value in yourself. It means you have hope.

Veronica is just 19 years old. She finished grade 9 before dropping out of school. It wasn’t that she couldn’t do the work, Veronica is very bright. She simply couldn’t afford the schools fees to continue attending. So, like 97% of other girls in Malawi she was forced out of high school and down a path that usually leads to marriage, children, and a life of back breaking work just to survive.

Then, unexpectedly, everything changed. Veronica was sponsored by someone in America. She started attending a local church, started reading the Bible and became a Christian. It’s not in Veronica’s nature to do anything halfway. She dove into being a Christian like learning to swim by diving into the deep end of a pool. She started participating in a local Youth Club, then began volunteering, before long she was even leading and teaching at a nearby Kids Club. Veronica was fast becoming a role model for other girls.

Although she was encouraged to return to school many times, Veronica didn’t seem to have an interest. Instead, she wanted to start her own business. She given use of a plot of land. That’s all it took, Veronica dove into the deep end again. This time planting rice.  Her hard work is paying off.

With just some small financial assistance from Y-Malawi Veronica expects to have a good yield of rice that will provide significant profits. She has big dreams of planting even more and expanding, even to employ others. Now she is becoming even more than a role model. She is helping to feed her family, she is creating her own future, and she is benefiting her community.

Economic empowerment goes way beyond a handout, it offers a hand up. Veronica is living proof of how lives can be changed. Watch for more on this and how you can get involved as Y-Malawi launches a formal Economic Empowerment initiative over the next couple months.