Leya Mshani lives in Chitipa, a district in northern Malawi, with her husband and children.
A year ago, Leya and her nearby neighbors each spent around 35 hours per week—the equivalent of a full-time job in the U.S.—collecting water for their families.
When friends invited her to join Ungweru (“light”) savings group through their church (a HOPE partner), Leya started saving 500 kwacha (roughly 67¢ USD) at each group meeting.
As she paid her shares, she used her first loan from the group to take an intensive tailoring course in order to pursue her dream of becoming a seamstress. Over the next two years, Leya used funds from her savings, loans, and profits to start a sewing business, make home improvements, purchase livestock, support her husband in starting a taxi business, and teach other women how to sew to earn income.
In 2018, Leya was able to pay for the labor to drill a water well next to her home. Today, the well supplies clean water to Leya’s family, as well as 22 other households—roughly 110 people—who no longer have to spend hours each day away from home. Leya’s generosity is meeting practical needs and giving the gift of time back to her community, inspiring others to see what other changes are possible.
She says, “I want to be a role model. The mindset of this community will change, then everything will change.”
Special thanks to Austin Taylor and our friends at Life.Church for sharing Leya’s story and these beautiful photos with us!