Sara Yasmin Ahmed, Co-Founder & Chair of Chazuka Project

Supporting young people and their families in Chazuka, Malawi to realise their potential 

At university I had post-traumatic stress disorder and struggled to leave the house. In my mid-twenties, I travelled around two continents solo. Putting these experiences together makes me realise I’ve come a long way…

When I graduated, I became a French teacher. I loved the job, but it all fell apart through bullying. Feeling low and scarred, I set off alone for Asia, which was incredibly transforming. You can’t read or understand anything, so you always feel off-balance. Travelling solo, you have to make it work!

I came back a more confident person and accepted a job with a youth charity – running work experience programmes for unemployed young people. I loved it, but within two years, I felt the urge to travel again…

This time around I was happy, so I had to really push myself to leave! I bought a one-way ticket to Mexico and booked a hostel for two nights. That’s as far as my plan to explore Latin America went! I learnt Spanish and travelled for seven months.

Now in my day job, I work for a social enterprise – running programmes in schools to get girls more interested in a career in tech. At evenings and weekends, I’m the co-founder and chair of a brand-new charity which empowers young people in Chazuka, Malawi to access quality education.

My involvement was quite accidental. In April, my now co-founder was struggling with the arduous registration process, so I fell down a Google black hole and figured it out! We’ve built a team of amazing volunteers and trustees. It’s been a steep learning curve, but having their support and a brilliant mentor has really helped.

Our first project was supporting the community to build and run a nursery school – the first of its kind in the area. It’s been a catalyst for change – empowering the young people to create better opportunities for themselves. Getting our charity registration was momentous and I’m excited for what’s ahead.

I’m spending Christmas and New Year in Chazuka. I’ve no idea what to expect, but I am happy to have the chance to make the world a brighter, happier place for young people. That’s why I am on this planet.

Chazuka Project