Tuesday, November 4, 2014

ADRA, CAM raise awareness on breast cancer

By Elias Banda
ADRA Malawi and the Cancer Association of Malawi (CAM) worked in collaboration to raise awareness and advocate for improved services for those affected.  CAM declared the month of October as a breast cancer awareness month to put more emphasis on the prevention, early detection and management aspect of breast cancer.
According to Regina Njilima CAM Coordinator, breast cancer was posing a big threat among other cancers in Malawi mostly attacking women above the age of 40. She said however that men accounted for only 5% among those affected.
ADRA Malawi provided the Nzatonse Radio platform for the association to raise the awareness campaign which ran for three weeks. The first program featured one of the breast cancer survivors, Jean Pheluwa  of Chilomoni township in Blantyre who testified how she survived by seeking early detection and treatment. Though one of her breasts was removed, Jean said her cancer was completely cured.
Regina Njilima also said that the association was facing many challenges in the fight against cancer which included lack of finances to carry out outreach activities in the remote areas of the country. She said that due to lack of awareness on cancer, many patients on referral program declined to be surgically operated and some even ran away for fear of the medical services. She said however that the association put more effort to trace them and brought them back for surgery.
Njilima also said that the other challenge the association faced was that out of over 2000 cancer emerging cases annually, there were only two cancer specialists in Malawi making it difficult for them to attend to all cases adequately.  Meanwhile, the 2B Ward section of Queen Elizabeth Hospital has been set aside as a cancer make-shift clinic while waiting for the cancer clinic under construction in Lilongwe.
The Nzatonse Radio Program on the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) is sponsored by ADRA Malawi through the Action for Social Change Program.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Machinga stakeholders impressed with ADRA Malawi supported CBGs

Mamangina Madikiza-Madumuse
ADRA Malawi partners in Machinga were impressed after visiting the Action for Social Change Program (ASC) activities in the district. The partners included government department’s representatives and those from non-governmental organizations. According to Justine Kumadzulo, ASC Machinga District Manager the objective of the visit was to familiarize partners with community based groups and their activities as part of the exit strategy.
Partners visited Alinafe Support Group in Traditinal Authority Kawinga. The group was formed in 1997 and in 2012 it was registered with Network of People Living with and AIDS in Malawi (NAPHAM).   Members of this group said had undertaken different self-initiated campaigns to reduce stigma and discrimination for people living with HIV/AIDS.  Group members provided evidence of reduced cases of stigma and discrimination and that the membership had been increased. By August 2014 the group had 38 members of which 4 were males. 
Alinafe Support Group members addressing partners

Despite making gains in reducing stigma and discrimination, the groups faced challenges that included lack of self-support as it was solely relied on external support to carry out activities. It was also noted that young people were not members of the group.  Poor male patronage was also a major concern as the group was dominated by women. Efforts have been made persuade men to join the group but none has worked.
Partners also visited the Mbonechera Cotton Association, comprising 1800 farmers. One of the tasks of the association is to lobby for lucrative markets and provide a platform for farmers to negotiate with government and other agro business agents.  It was observed that some of the farmers in the association did not understand the purpose of the grouping. The leadership feared that most members expected instant results, whereby farmers thought they would have ready and lucrative markets for their produce but seemingly it was taking too long to realize this.  Partners however, observed that the association was well organized and was set  as an opportunity for progress in the area for future faming prospects.
And last to be visited was  Mangamba reflect circle which was empowered by ADRA Malawi as an advocacy champion group. This group had been engaged in many advocacy activities including the fencing of Liwonde National Park to keep elephants at bay from destroying crops and threatening people’s lives.
Mangamba REFLECT Circle addressing partners on advocacy activities undertaken
The group also conducted a campaign on sanitation at Mangamba market. Through this campaign the market is now clean and toilets have been built.
The group told district partners that Mangamba Police Unit had only two police officers not enough to meet the security demand in the area. It was also  discovered that suspects at the police unit were subjected to dehumanizing conditions and since police officers were part of the visiting team they reacted on the report and pledged to do something on the matter.
After the visit partners said in an interview that the trip was successful and full of lessons.
 “It was important for ADRA to take us to their program impact areas where we saw the strengths and weaknesses of the groups. I hope my organization and others will do likewise,” said  the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer from World Vision who declined to be named.
The Action for Social Change Program is being supported by Denmark to bring about individual and society change in Machinga, Mulanje, Lilongwe and Mzimba districts.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

ADRA Malawi shines at Blantyre Trade Fare

By Mamangina Madikiza-Madumuse
The 2014 Agriculture Trade Fare will go into history books as the first ever agriculture show case that ADRA Malawi participated. The fare which ran from 28th to 30th 2014 under the theme " Agriculture: A Basis for Achieving Inclusive Growth", was officially opened by President Peter Mutharika at Chichiri Trade fare grounds in Blantyre.
According to the Malawi Confederation of Commerce and Industry, who organized the event, about 100 exhibitors comprising buyers, producers, farmer organizations and researchers erected pavilions at the fare.
The ADRA Malawi pavilion was organized by the empowered Kawinga Cooperative from Machinga and Tagwirizana Smallholder famers Association from Mulanje. The two groups displayed a variety of agricultural products including pigeon peas, sunflower, sunflower cooking oil, ground nuts, groundnut flour and cassava flour.
ADRA Malawi pavilion at the fare

The Tigwirizane Smallholder Farmer Association emerged as an outstanding performer in the category of farmer organization after organizers were impressed with the display of pigeon peas, sunflower and sunflower cooking oil.
The ADRA Malawi empowered groups also took  advantage of the agriculture show to expose themselves to potential markets as they received numerous enquiries from buyers. The Blantyre based Universal Industries Company had an interest in Kawinga Cooperative for the supply of   ground nuts, groundnuts flour and cassava flour.  Another Blantyre based company Export Trading developed deep interest in Tigwirizane Smallholder’ s potential to supply pigeon peas.
ADRA Malawi Monitoring and Evaluation Manager Thoko Mwapasa could not hold her excitement when she said that this was a landmark achievement. “ This is no mean achievement  , I congratulate the farmer groups and the ADRA Malawi team for their coordinated effort to make this achievement ‘ said Thoko.
ADRA Malawi through the Action for Social Change Program has facilitated formation and strengthened farmer groups and associations into viable civil society actors to advocate for better livelihoods in the communities. 


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Reach out and touch for Mary

By Stanley Mpasa

Mary Chauya was born Amwalembe Village in area of chief Mkumba in |Mangochi District. She has a history of epilepsy. She developed epileptic fits after the birth of her first child and she fell in the fire on  two separate incidences and had her arms amputated. Despite her condition, Mary is looking after her old mother and her late sister’s children.
Mary at her house
A Trainer of Trainers (TOT) volunteer of Maranatha Cousnellors’ Club noticed Mary selling some fruits on the roadside and he was interested to find out more about a person who had no arms but could carry and sell fruits like any other normal person. The matter was reported to Maranatha Counsellos’ Club which responded by donating various items worthy K71, 0000 (about $190) to Mary.  The matter was further referred to the District Social Welfare Office for more assistance. The

Television interview

TOT project Manager appealed for support from the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC TV) to feature Mary on the Reach Out and Touch Program, a platform through which people with disabilities and special needs  ask for help from the general public.
MBC responded and featured Mary on the program. Maranatha volunteers further donated food items and clothes worthy K61, 000 (about $161) to Mary. During the recording, Mary narrated how  difficult it was to coped with life under such conditions.  “It is very hard,” she said, “ although the people around us feel pity and help, they, too, are poor and need to take care of their families.” She added that she is very grateful for the assistance she has received both from TOT and the community members.
After airing of the program, MBC official hinted that people are now making enquiries on Marys condition and there is a ray of hope that some may come forward and assist.
Meanwhile, the TOTs have also sourced K100, 000 (about $265) which would be used to rehabilitate Marys house.
The TOT Prooject is supported by Sweden to bring about individual and society change.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

TOT volunteers mobilize community for HIV/AIDS messages

By Stanley Mpasa
The Trainer of Trainers (TOT) project volunteers have raised the alarm on the dangers of bad customs that facilitate the transmission of the HIV virus in the community through an open day function at Mbiza in Mulanje District.  The function took place on Sunday, August 17 and was spiced by drama, dances, poem recital, testimonies and speeches, all depicting the realities of HIV/AIDS and emphasizing on the importance of HIV testing.
Though the function collided with the chief’s coronation ceremony a few kilometers from the venue, over 800 people had attended.

Peterson Kamanga and other invited guests at the function
The function revealed several gaps in the fight against HIV/AIDS and they included low community compliance to the preventive messages, poor accessibility to condoms and harmful customs, among others. 
Common among harmful customs were the initiation ceremonies where boys and girls were taught sex theories and later encouraged them to put them into practice. Apart from the spread of HIV, the initiation ceremonies have also increased early pregnancies, early marriages and school drop outs especially among girls.
Mbiza support group members singing during the function
Speaking at the function South Malawi Field Health and Music Director Peterson Kamanga who was also Guest of Honor cautioned the young against engaging in risky behaviors that would encourage the spread of HIV/AIDS.   Mbiza Health Center Medical Officer, Mr Pindani commanded the work done by TOT volunteers. He disclosed that 30% of the 15000 people that have undergone HIV tests from the beginning of 2014 at the health center were referred by the TOT volunteers. Mr Pindani however bemoaned the low turn up by men for HIV tests.
A member of Mbiza Support Group Eneles Eliya testified how she lived positively with the HIV virus since 2001. She encouraged people to go for testing. Speaking earlier, Village Head Muhiya thanked the organizers for choosing his village as venue for the function and urged his subjects to take the messages seriously.
Other invited guests at the function included chiefs, pastors, teachers and medical staff.
The TOT Project is being supported by Sweden to bring about society and individual behavioral change on issues of HIV/AIDS.


Friday, August 22, 2014

First FBS students graduate in Machinga

Elias Banda
Eighteen Famer Business School (FBS) students have graduated in Machinga with mandate to take farming business to greater heights. The graduation ceremony which was spiced by dances, songs, drama and speeches took place at Nanyumbu Extension Planning Area (EPA) offices.
ADRA Malawi collaborated with the Ministry of Agriculture to build the capacity of 16 women and 2 men into agri-business activities. Before certificates were awarded, the graduating students erected pavilions, where they demonstrated the acquired skills in market research, gross margin analysis and business planning. Through market research, the graduates would now be able to analyze different cash crops and find suitable markets while the gross margin analysis would help them compare enterprises to find profitable markets. This also included an element of value addition to the crops produced. Business planning would help them access loans from the lending institutions because it was the vital part of the lending requirements.
The function was attended by chiefs, agriculture extension workers and ADRA Malawi staff.
Speaking earlier after certificate presentation, Action for Social Change (ASC) Program Manager Emma Jakobo  said that FBS was a new concept in ADRA Malawi and it was one of the strategies to reduce poverty in the rural communities. She urged the graduates to put the skills acquired to meaningful use.
One of the graduates receiving her certificate from the DPM as Emma Jakobo looks on
Speaking during the function, Traditional Authority Kawinga thanked ADRA Malawi for empowering the community with the skills in agri-business and assured the gathering that the knowledge invested would improve the quality of life in the area.
Machinga Agriculture Development Division (ADD) Deputy program Manager Benard Banda who was also Guest of Honor at the function thanked ADRA Malawi for the tireless efforts to improve the lives of people in Traditional Authority Kawinga’s area. He said ADRA Malawi had planted a seed whose fruits would be enjoyed by many people. He urged farmers in the area to take faming as a business.
The Action for Social program is being supported by Denmark to bring about individual and society change.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Chinomba community formulates laws ahead of initiation camps.

By Elias Banda
Initiation camps for boys and girls begin the first week of August every year in Mulanje but this year, the Chinomba Village Community would like to treat the ceremony differently by formulating laws restricting the entry age and the curriculum.
The decision to restrict initiation operations  commonly known as thezo in local language came into effect after the community discovered that the number of girls dropping out of school for early marriages was on the increase.  The irony of the matter is that girls and boys aged between 7 and 9 are now considered legible for the ceremony and while at the initiation camps, they are taught sex theories and family matters centrally to their age.
Though the camps are separate for boys and girls, they run on the same period of about 14 days and when they graduate they are instructed to practice what they learnt at the camp by sexually cleansing their bodies. If they don’t sexually cleans, they would not get married in future or their bodies would have unexplained fatalities according to Vax Mwaukila, one of the community members at Chinomba. It is on the basis of  this belief that girls are forced to practice sex after graduating from the ceremonies in order to keep the bad spirits at bay. Enelesi Manganisha of Chinomba village said the sex theories and practices have a huge bearing on child education because girls prefer sex to education and they eventually drop from school to go for early marriage.
School going children who did not undergo initiation ceremony procedure are being marginalized and segregated by peers and they react by either abandoning school or going for an early entry into entry at the initiation camp. The impression is that those who went through initiation are considered the best people in the world.
After graduation, there is a special ceremony for girls known as Chitseko (dancing on the flat door). Here, girls dance while being half naked with beads around their waist and neck in full view of the community members. During this ceremony, girls display their sexy dancing skills and they send a message to the world that they are now have all capabilities to be wives. Enelesi Manganisha argues that the practice attracts a wrong sort of attention because it creates an opportunity for men and boys to choose sexual partners. She further argues that making some one dance while being half naked without his consent is a direct attack to her dignity.
It was against this background that a ADRA Malawi facilitated a community dialogue session were people advocated for change of the approach on the initiation ceremony. During the discussions, community members outlined the consequences the culture is bringing in the community including the escalation of HIV/AIDS cases, unwanted pregnancies and birth complications among others.  The agreed age is 13 and above and that sex matters should be removed from the curriculum and those found defying this law would pay a goat and K5000 (about $125).