BY RICHARD CHIROMBO:
Twenty-six-year old Alliance One Tobacco Malawi employee, Pilirani Khoza, has been chosen as this year’s winner of Queen Elizabeth II Young Leaders Award because of her commitment to taking voluntary leadership roles in the society.
Khoza, who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Forestry Management from Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar), said she was happy that she has been chosen as this year’s winner.
“I’m very excited because I didn’t expect that, one day, I would personally meet her majesty Queen Elizabeth, let alone win and receive a global award from the Queen. I will cherish this moment for the rest of my life,” Khoza said.
Among other notable achievements in her life, she founded Bunda Female Students Association (Bufeso) in 2012, and the association managed to support 120 female students at the university and 80 secondary school students.
Bufeso also conducted role modeling programmes in 28 rural secondary schools in the country with the aim of inspiring rural area-based learners to work hard in school and achieve their goals.
Although most girls in her community were dropping out of school at primary school level, Khoza was determined to go further with her education and successfully graduated with a bachelor’s degree at Luanar, formerly Bunda College of Agriculture, some few years ago.
“Being the first female to attain university education in my village, I made a personal commitment to champion women and youth empowerment initiatives. No wonder, I played a leading role in the formation of Bufeso when I was a student at Bunda College in 2012,” she said.
Years after her graduation, Khoza still coordinates various fundraising activities for Bufeso which, through her efforts, is assisting various needy female students, both financially and academically, at Luanar.
Khoza, who works as a Forestry Technician for Alliance One Tobacco Malawi Limited, believes that agriculture is the backbone of Malawi’s economy, calling on stakeholders to double their efforts to propel the sector.
“We cannot preach food security among our farmers without considering issues of environmental protection and conservation; hence, there is a lot to be done here in Malawi to replenish long lost forests for the benefit of our farmers,” she said.
Khoza has spoken at international forums such as the Heads of State and Government Summit of the African Union and European Union held in 2016, European Development Meeting where the United Nations Secretary General was the guest of honour. She was also the keynote speaker at the 2017 Young Africa Works Summit organised by Master Card Foundation.
During her school days, she won the Vice Chancellor’s Achievers Award which is the highest recognition at university level awarded to exceptional young achievers.