FOCHTA VTC Opening Ceremony

The FOCHTA Vocational Training Centre was officially opened on 27th April. We are excited to see the end result after years of hard work by so many different people.

Sam Crawford Architects was initially approached in 2005 to see if we would be interested in designing a building for children orphaned by AIDS in Malawi, East Africa. As opportunities to help people who are less advantaged don’t present themselves often in our profession, Sam jumped at the opportunity. After 10 years in the making, the facility has now been officially opened.

We would like to thank all the people that have played a part in seeing this building complete, but in particular to Ken Warr, Jamie Sutherland and Bonnie Constance of Northrop Consulting (Engineers), Strider Duerinckx of Whitehead & Associates, the volunteers from Architects Without Frontiers, Jilian Hopkins who managed the project for 12+ months in Malawi, and Brendan Worsley of Sago Design who replaced Jilian for the following 3+ months.

Below is a write up of the recent opening ceremony sent to us by Austin Kambalame, VTC Principal.


Over 200 people attended the official opening of our vocational training centre on April 27. The ceremony was officiated by Mr. Gilbert Chilinde, Board Chair of Technical Entrepreneurial Vocational Training Authority (TEVETA), Mr. Charles Thombozi, District Commissioner of Thyolo and Mr. Claude Ho, our Patron. In the speech made by Mr Chillinde, he said that what FOCHTA has established with the launching of the VTC is exactly in line with what the President has been advocating, that of advancement in vocational training to young people.

Mr. Thombozi remarked that our VTC is far superior to that of any other such centres in the district, both in its beauty of design and in the way it is presented to the community by the FOCHTA management.

Mr. Steven Labana, our Board Chair, commented that this VTC opens a new chapter after thirteen years of educational programs conducted for orphans and other vulnerable children. He also thanked the staff and volunteers to have made the event a success. He further thanked Sydney architect Sam Crawford & his team and all the people who have contributed to the construction of the centre.
Mr. Ho commented that the way FOCHTA runs is like a three-legged stool, that one of the legs is that of compassion, as has been demonstrated clearly by the FOCHTA team, that which we have made ourselves proud of and respected.
Guests were entertained before lunch in performance by the Bwanali & Jiri Dance Groups, in addition to live music to the joyfulness of all.

Guests attending include:
• Shire Highlands Education Division representative
• District Education Manager of Thyolo
• Representative of Mafisi Tea Estate
• FDH Bank Manager
• Solar power installer
• Mikombe Community Day secondary school Headmaster
• Addolorata Community Day secondary school Headmaster
• luchenza Community Day secondary school Headmaster
• Thyolo secondary school Headmaster
• St Anthony Community day Secondary school
• luchenza Community Day secondary school Headmaster
• Luchenza secondary school Headmaster
• Nang’ombe Community Day secondary school Headmaster
• Goliati Community Day secondary school Headmaster
• January Community Day secondary school Headmaster
• Luchenza Municipal Council representative
• Luchenza police Officer in Charge
• Mr. & Mrs. Godia (retired radio presenter)
• Social welfare office Thyolo-representative
• TEVETA representatives
• Traditional Authority Mchiramwera
• Traditional Authority Nanseta
• Senior chief Chimaliro
• Senior chief Kapichi
• Group village Nanseta
• CBO Network coordinators, Kapichi, Mchiramwera, Nanseta, Ngolongoliwa and Goliati
• District Labour officer