Monday, March 31, 2014

Community passes law to reduce illiteracy

By Elias Banda
In a bid to increase literacy levels community members at Group Village Mdondwe in Lilongwe have passed a law enforcing men and women to attend adult classes. During a village meeting community members agreed that those who would not register and attend classes would pay a fine of K3000 (about $6). The unanimous decision was arrived at upon getting the news that all 22 people who sat for October 2013 examinations in the village adult class failed to reach the passing mark.  
Speaking in an interview Village Head Mdondwe said the results were unacceptable given the high levels of illiteracy in his village where many people could not read and write. He said it was difficult for his subjects to participate in community development activities when they could not read and write. During the interview the village head was visibly shocked by the results his village got and expressed concern that his village would lag behind in development if illiteracy was sustained. He therefore gave a stern warning that he would deal with failures. The chief however said he was optimistic that things would improve with the imposition of a fine because people would now be serious.
 Last year ADRA Malawi, through the Action for Social Change Program facilitated establishment of an adult class in the area for people to learn how to read, write and count. Meanwhile, classes have resumed in the village and an impromptu visit to area showed an overwhelming class attendance.
The Action for Social Change Program is being supported by Denmark to bring about individual and society change in Tradional Authority Tsabango in Lilongwe.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Eliza Mdezo dies

Grief engulfed ADRA Malawi staff on Friday after the death of Elizabeth Mdezo.  Eliza died in the early hours of Friday, March 7 at Mwaiwathu Hospital in Blantyre after a long battle with cancer.
When the news broke, the state of shock was overwhelming among staff and Dyson Mbengo, ADRA Malawi Human Resource Officer described the passing on of Eliza as huge loss for ADRA Malawi.
Eliza was until her death ADRA Malawi Chief Accountant and at some point served as Acting Finance Director. She is survived by two children, Stanley and Emma. According to family members, Eliza would be buried in Nkhatabay, her home area on Monday, March 10.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Community amends initiation policy to control early pregnancies in Mulanje

By Elias Banda
The  initiation policy has been revisited in Traditional Authority Chikumbu in Mulanje to bring under control cases of early pregnancies while fostering the promotion of delayed sex debut among younger girls.
Prior to the review process girls and boys aged between 9 and 10 years were legible for initiation and were exposed to sex and family matters, a situation widely condemned by the community because such issues were morally against their age.  And when they graduated, they were expected to put what they learn t into practice, a  situation that led to increased early pregnancies and marriage. Early sex debut   also had a bearing on school dropout among girls as they highly preferred marriage to school. 

mothers are now encouraging and supporting the girl child to go to school
Hot issue: community members debating the initiation ceremony policy review.
ADRA Malawi through the Enhanced Livelihood Gender Empowerment Project (ELGE) launched a sensitization campaign by engaging community leaders and traditional counselors known as Anankungwi in the local language, emphasizing on the effects of   the custom. A series of community dialogue sessions were conducted to analyze the impact of the cultural practice and how it would affect the society at large.
Group Village Headman Chitambi said things were now changing and it was imperative that some of the traditional practices especially those that impinged human freedoms were removed from the society.
The current policy adopted by chiefs enforces that those legible for initiation ceremony should be 13 years and above and that matters of sex and family should be removed. The new policy also highlights that religious organizations should be engaged to provide spiritual and moral support to the girls and boys while they undergo initiation ceremony. 
Speaking in an interview, ELGE Project Manager Andiyesa Mhango said since the amendment of the policy, there is an observed shift from reliance on traditional counselors as sole girl instructors to mothers taking more responsibility of instructing their daughters.     Andiyesa said that the increased women enrollment in the adult literacy program is encouraging more parental support in the girl child education. She said that her project is monitoring the situation though there are positive indications that the targeted communities are now placing more value on education than culture.
The ELGE Project is being supported by Sweden to bring about individual and society positive change in Mulanje. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

TOTs cheer the sick at Mangochi Hospital

By Stanley Mpasa & Elias Banda
A group of Trainer of Trainers known as Maranatha TOTs cheered the sick and donated assorted food items worthy K60,000  (about $133) at Mangochi District Hospital. The function took place on New Year’s Eve, which fell on December 31.
According to Maranatha Group Leader Benson Kabenthu, the decision to donate was arrived at after reports that the district hospital, the biggest referral hospital in the district had ran out food and it was difficult for many patients to respond to treatment without food. Kabenthu said the money was raised from income generating activities through the group’s Village Savings and Loan (VSL) initiative which ADRA Malawi through the TOT Project facilitated.
Maranatha members after making the donation

After assessing the situation at the hospital, the group discovered that the TB ward was highly hit by the situation and patients spent days without food. The donated items included sugar, rice, milk and salt, benefiting 38 patients.
Receiving the donation on behalf of the patients a Ward Attendant who opted for anonymity said the donation was timely and thanked Maranatha for the donation. She appealed for more support and challenged other organizations to emulate the example that Maranatha set.
Group members cheering the sick
Speaking in an interview, TOT Project Manager Stanley Mpasa said it was encouraging seeing TOT groups growing economically and that they where even sensitive to the needs of the society. 
The TOTs are building the capacity of volunteers who are involved in counseling and provision psychosocial support to those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.
Currently, ADRA Malawi is supporting 29 TOT groups doted in 9 districts of Malawi, 8 in the South and 1 in the Central Region.

The TOT Project is being supported by Sweden to improve the quality of those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Mulanje District Council approves K3.7m for Chinomba School Block

 By Andiyesa Mhango & Elias Banda

Mulanje District Council has approved about K3.8 million (about $8200) of Local Development Fund (LDF) for the construction of a school block and two teachers’ houses at Chinomba Village Community in Mulanje. Community leaders at Chinomba submitted a proposal in 2013 to the district council outlining challenges faced by children due to long distance to school. The vicinity of Chinomba community is 20 villages big and has over 800 children who walk 7 kilometers to get to the nearest school. The situation gets out of control during rainy season when rivers are flooded.
The foundation stage of the school block

ADRA Malawi through the Enhanced Livelihood through Gender Empowerment Project (ELGE) responded by building the capacity of village development committee leaders in proposal writing. After the training, participants quickly developed a proposal putting together pieces of a resolution agreed at the community forum where the need to have a school block was tabled and debated.

When the proposal was submitted mid 2013, the village development committees and the community mobilized 70 000 bricks and 25 tones of river sand for the project. And when the funds were disbursed in December 2013, the construction immediately took off. A community member who declined to be named said the school was expected to enroll between 120 and 150 children when completed.
Raising the school superstructure

And a school management committee member Mary Majiya who could not hold her excitement  said it was a frightening experience   sending children especially very young ones to a school about 7 kilometers away. She said it was more frightening during the rainy season when it was difficult to cross the rivers. 

Village development leaders supporting the project

Speaking in an interview, ELGE Project Manager Andiyesa Mhango said it was the first time for this community to initiate a project, submit a proposal and get funded. She said the development was a land mark activity for the community and it would encourage them to initiate more developmental programs in future. 

The ELGE project is supported by Sweden to bring about individual and society change in Mulanje District.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Mzuzu Police gets capacity building boost on HIV&AIDS

By Judith Kumwenda
90 police officers from Mzuzu Police Station have under gone training in HIV and AIDS in relation to security and safety. The rationale for the training was to ensure that the Police officers had the accurate knowledge and skills on HIV & AIDS. The knowledge acquired included basic information on HIV & AIDS, its transmission, prevention, mitigation and other HIV and AIDS related issues handled and encountered in the police Officers line of duty.
Mzuzu Police earlier submitted a proposal to ADRA Malawi seeking capacity building on matters of HIV & AIDS via the Victim Support Unit. ADRA Malawi through the Action for Social Change Program (ASC) responded by funding the training sessions which involved 90 police officers. The trained police officers are expected to share the knowledge acquired with the rest of the officers at the station. Mzuzu Police Station has 267 officers.
After the training, one of the participants Violet Kabondo, who is also Child Protection Desk Officer at Mzuzu Police Station,   narrated how she found herself exposed to HIV and quickly sought Post Exposure Prophylaxis treatment within the recommended 72 hours as learnt from the training. She thanked ADRA Malawi for the gesture and said that the training she acquired would go a long way preventing HIV and guaranteeing peace of mind.
Violet Kabondo-Child protection Desk Officer holding  a bottle of her Post Exposure Prophylaxis(PEP) treatment.
Speaking in an interview Mzuzu Police AIDS Coordinator SR Chalemera disclosed that the other outcome of the training was that the number of police officers who have disclosed their HIV status has increased from 11 to 20. In separate interview, Mzuzu Police Victim Support unit SR Flora Njawiti said that the training has given her enough strength to reach out to couples on importance of Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT). 
The vicinity of Mzuzu Police Station lies on Vipya Plateau surrounded by lowly hills, such as Choma, Mombwe, Kaningina, enyezini, Luhomero and Chiungu and It has seven police Units. The population size of the area is 273, 447. The core duties of Police officers in Mzuzu includes safeguarding the freedoms and rights of all people, maintaining law and order, protecting life and property, preventing crime, investigating and detecting crime and bringing all offenders to justice. However, gender based violence, especially sexually related ones are among the reported crimes on the increase, exposing the victims to the risk of contracting HIV.
The ASC program has also supported similar activities to Police Stations in all the program targeted districts.
The Action for Social Change Program is being supported by Denmark to bring about individual and societal change in Mzuzu, Lilongwe, Machinga and Mulanje.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

FBS casts ray of hope in Lilongwe

By George Kamanga
A new chapter of prosperity has been opened at Traditional Authority Tsabango in Lilongwe as farmers adopt new agribusiness skills acquired from the farmer business school (FBS) at Kan’goma. The school provides a wide range of skills and innovations that give farmers an upper hand to produce and market their farm produce. The skills include production, packaging and displaying of products to attract buyers. The school also places higher emphasis on farming as a business.
Benesi Chikutu who hails from Dzuwa Village in the area is one of the beneficiaries of the school and he walked tall after investing K43, 000 ( about $956) on cabbages and tomatoes through irrigation and he raised K223, 000 (about $4956). Mr Chikutu said in an interview that he had never had such a huge amount in profits ever since he started trading at Chiuzira Market.
 ADRA Malawi through the Action for Social Program launched the farmer business school in July 2013 and built the capacity 25 farmers,  of which 5 of them were women.
A proud Chikutu captured at his farm
From the money raised Mr Chikutu said he bought enough maize to take him through to the other harvesting season and had already paid school fees and farm inputs.
The Action for Social Change Program is being funded by Denmark to bring about individual and society change in Lilongwe, Mzimba, Machinga and Mulanje.