Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bicycle Ambulances - for a different new year

As the festive season is drawing near, there are a lot of gift sharing among relatives and friends. But for some communities that ADRA is working with, the present presented to them beats all the gifts received during the festive season. It is an all time present.

Transporting patients has always been a hustle to most communities, bearing in mind the long distance to a health centre, the scorching sun and rainfall in summer. The act of giving these communities bicycles has assured so many community members that they will have access to health services. The amazing part of this whole endeavor is that in most of the communities where the bicycle ambulances were donated, the community members did not have any means of transport for patients; there are no ambulances in these remote areas. In this regard most communities feel that this gift will not only help in transporting patients but has brought hope and assurance that they will have access to health services.

Expressing his joy one of the community members who received the bicycle ambulance on behalf of the community in Chiradzulu, Oscar Limani, said his community admired other communities who had the bicycle ambulance. However, he said that now that ADRA has given them their own bicycle ambulance, the community will be helped knowing that there are a lot of people who fail to go the hospital because of transport problems. Looking at the bicycle ambulances, Limani reiterate that ambulances are comfortable for patients and durable for the road conditions in the rural areas.

In absentia Traditional Authority Ntcheme appreciated the efforts made by ADRA and its partners. He said communities can only develop if health services are accessible to all in the communities. He said there have been a lot of incidences where people die unnecessarily because they were not able to get to the hospital or clinic in good time or sometimes not even being able to travel due to transportation challenges.

So far the fourteen bicycles will reach out to 140 villages in the Central and Southern parts of Malawi. More of the bicycles ambulances are expected and if all goes according to plan this will a life changing endeavor because most patients will have access to treatment from health centers.

The bicycle ambulances were donated by individuals and corporations through ADRA Denmark. If you want to join the pledge to provide 100 bicycle ambulances to the most vulnerable communities in Malawi, contact the ADRA office in your Country specifying that the donation is for this intended purpose, or give online in the ADRA International Website by following the link: Donate now.

Authored by Chikondi Madikiza-Madumuse, Communications and Advocacy Officer

Monday, December 14, 2009

Campaign against gender based violence - World Human Rights Day in Mulanje District

“Commit, act and demand together we can end gender based violence” this was the highlighted theme for this year to conclude a sixteen -day global campaign against gender based violence. The campaign ended on Thursday, December 10 2009.
In Mulanje, activities marking the event took place at Chisitu Primary School Ground attracting over twenty village communities including those targeted by the Women Empowerment Project. The event was graced by drama, speeches, poems, testimonies, songs and dances. All of them highlighted the theme with appealing messages that violence of any form is an evil act and must be stopped.
Earlier in the day, village communities staged a big walk, covering about two kilometers. The procession carried banners and waved placards while singing, telling the world that gender based violence should be stopped.
Speaking at the function, the Guest of Honour, Mr Gideon Mothisa from Ministry of Labour thanked ADRA for championing the campaign and urged stakeholders to take a gallant fight against violence.
Mr Michael Usi, ADRA Programs Director commended all participants and stakeholders for the united effort towards curbing gender based violence and stressed that ADRA would be committed to collaborate with all partners to reduce incidences of violence.
Mulanje Police Station Officer, Mr Bwela said that though gender based violent cases are reducing, there is need for more community awareness as cases come in different shapes and sizes. He said that Mulanje Police through the victim support unit has helped to promote awareness and settling domestic squabbles.
Speaking earlier, WEP Project Manager, Andiyesa Mhango said the event was in line with the project objective to empower women and build their capacity through promotion of information sharing, promotion of male participation as partners in development and advocate for change when human rights are violated.

Author: Andiyesa Mhango

Friday, December 4, 2009

Hope and Courage in dealing with AIDS in Rural Malawi

Authored by Chikondi Madikiza-Madumuse during World AIDS Day in Mulanje

For many people the World AIDS Day brings hope and courage. They realize that the world recognizes the effects of this pandemic. In the recent years discrimination and stigmatization of those with HIV has decreased and AIDS though a dangerous disease, is seen as something that can be managed.
In 2004 the Mapira family (Mr and Mrs) were found HIV positive, it was tough for them because during this time the husband was bed ridden. They visited different traditional herbalist who gave them different concoctions and in some cases were told he had been bewitched. They also spent so much money during this time, trying to get help.But one day a counselor visited the area, he visited this household. He advised the family to go for an HIV test. It was a hard decision for the man but he had to do it because he was very ill. After being found HIV positive the Mapira family decided to declare their HIV status. At first people were backbiting about their status, but later the community realized that the two were living a better life.
Now five years down the line the couple is self-dependant, they are living a healthy and a happy life, they accepted and are managing their condition after taking heed of counsel. The couple says instead of looking at ARVs as a burden, they take them as their every day ‘drink’ in doing so they take them with much ease knowing that they can live a longer life and see their children grow into responsible citizens. They encouraged those who have not yet tested to go for testing and for those who need ARVs not to be afraid to start on treatment.
Celebrating World Aids Day in Mulanje - Southern Malawi

As the world celebrated World AIDS Day this family sets an example for people, to share their experience and assisting others to go for testing and deal with their status.
During the celebrations in Mulanje different denominations came together to declare to the community and district that it takes everybody’s effort in the fight against HIV/AIDS, no one can manage on their own.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Letter from the field - World AIDS Day

Hello All
1st December was World Aids Day. Here in Salima the commemoration took place in one of our impact areas for Tsogolo Labwino Project in T/A Kambwiri at Lungumadzi primary school.
The theme was Universal Access and Human Rights - Accessing HIV and AIDS services is my right.
The function was graced by the District Commissioner, Mr Gift Rapozo, T/A Kambwiri, members of the clergy from different denominations, business men, NGOs and District Assembly staff.
It all started at 9.00 a.m with a big walk for about one kilometer before assembling at the school play ground.
Activities included: Prayers, songs, drama, traditional dances, recitals, sharing of experiences on positive living and speeches from selected guests.
NGOs that contributed in the activities included: Salima Aids Support Organisation (SASO), Family Health International (FHI), Social Islamic
Development (SID) and ADRA Malawi.
Tsogolo Labwino project through Chiungwe Kumanga Umodzi of Gvh Ndola performed a 15 minute play on the need to let women take lead in HIV/AIDS programs in their villages through participation in different development forums.
In his speech the district commissioner commended the efforts being taken by different development players in the district for different roles they are taking in combating the disease.
The only drawback in the function this year was the fuel scarcity which affected the preparations of the function.

Thanks and all the best
Francis M.T. Zande
Project Manager
Tsogolo Labwino Project
ADRA Malawi

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

On World AIDS Day, ADRA Works to Curb Pandemic

Global ADRA Network press release on World AIDS day, highlights interventions in Malawi, read bellow for full article or access it on www.adra.org.

SILVER SPRING, Md. —The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is working to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS globally through targeted projects that promote behavior change, increase education, and improve the quality of life of those living with the virus, the agency reports.

“Around the world, ADRA offers HIV preventative education programs, HIV/AIDS testing, and counseling services to reduce the impact of AIDS on individuals and families,” said Charles Sandefur, president of ADRA International. “Through these efforts, ADRA expresses its call to biblical social responsibility and considers it a vital task to help eradicate this terrible disease.”

In Papua New Guinea, which has the highest incidence of HIV in the Pacific region, ADRA is running an HIV/AIDS counseling and testing center in Lae, the country’s second largest city. The ADRA Family Support and Community Information Center encourages communities to practice responsible sex. It also acts as a resource center, offering books and audiovisual materials that educate youth, the most affected segment of the population, on topics including HIV and AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, and reproductive health.

“Our goal is to educate people so that they make informed decisions on risky behavioral practices,” said Harvey Kitoria, director for the ADRA Family Support and Community Information Center.

ADRA Papua New Guinea also provides HIV/AIDS awareness programs in business and academic institutions, conducts confidential mobile testing, voluntary counseling, and home-based care visits to support and help minimize the stigma and discrimination many HIV-affected families face within their communities.

In Malawi, where the number of people living with HIV and AIDS is estimated to be 930,000, according to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), ADRA is implementing several programs that not only raise awareness about HIV and AIDS prevention, but also meet the needs of families affected by the virus.

One such program is Let’s Fight AIDS in Malawi, or LEFAM, which works to strengthen families affected by HIV/AIDS, providing them with activities that prevent the spread of the disease, as well as counseling, advocacy programs, and income-generating initiatives.

ADRA is also teaching Malawian communities about HIV and AIDS through a well-known television and radio program called Tikuferanji, whose goal is to help the public learn about disease prevention and responsible sexual behaviors. Tikuferanji, currently one of the most popular television shows in Malawi, received the Radio Play of the Year Award at the 2008 Malawi Broadcasting Corporation Entertainers Awards, and was also voted the Best Advocacy Program in Malawi in radio and television.

ADRA recently ended the Live Safe, Play Safe Project, a multi-year initiative that used sports and games to teach children in Mali about HIV and AIDS prevention and the importance of caring for those living with the disease. The project, first implemented in August 2007, benefited more than 3,000 children before its closing in September 2009.

For more details about the HIV and AIDS crisis, including valuable information regarding ADRA’s response to the pandemic, go to www.adra.org.

According to UNAIDS, more than 25 million people have died from AIDS since 1981, Meanwhile, some 33 million people are infected with HIV globally.

In 1988, the World Health Organization and the United Nations General Assembly designated December 1 as World AIDS Day in order to raise awareness about the disease, fight prejudices, and increase understanding worldwide.

To get the latest information, follow ADRA on Twitter and Facebook.

ADRA is a non-governmental organization present in 125 countries providing sustainable community development and disaster relief without regard to political or religious association, age, gender, race or ethnicity.

For more information about ADRA, visit www.adra.org.

Author: Nadia McGill

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Violence Against Women Hindering Development, Says Agency

November 25th marks the day where international attention is drawn to the Elimination of Violence Against Women. ADRA Malawi as part of the International ADRA Network joined the United Nations in the commemorations of the day, promoting the enditnow global campaign, co-sponsored by ADRA, whose primary aim is to put an end to the global pandemic of violence aimed at the female gender. In the press release from ADRA International, a development project by ADRA Malawi, promoting women's rights, was highlighted.

Bellow the press release from ADRA International:

The deep effect that violence against women and girls is having around the world is not only stalling the development of millions of women, but also that of their families, communities, and entire societies, reports the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA).

“Although women are often the most vulnerable in a society, as mothers and primary caregivers their empowerment is essential to the well-being of their children,” said Charles Sandefur, president of ADRA International. “Protecting them from physical, sexual, or psychological harm is not only is the right thing to do, but an absolute necessity in reaching our development goals.”

In order to push for the eradication of violence against women, ADRA is joining the United Nations on November 25 to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women by highlighting the enditnow™ campaign, a global initiative co-sponsored by ADRA whose primary aim is to put an end to the global pandemic of violence aimed at the female gender.

As part of its first phase, the enditnow™ campaign is gathering 1 million signatures from supporters in more than 200 countries and territories, which will then be presented to the United Nations once the goal is reached in order to drive attention to the issue and advocate for policies that will better protect women and girls.

To sign the petition online, click here. View the campaign video here.

ADRA is actively working to eradicate violence against women and girls through various initiatives, including the Keep Girls Safe Project in northern Thailand, which combats sex trafficking; the Anti-Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Project in Kenya; the Stop Sex Traffic Project in India; and ADRA House, a shelter for battered women that ADRA recently opened in Romania.

Recognizing the role that inequality holds in many abusive situations, ADRA’s women empowerment projects also help women increase their role within their own families, gain greater control over their own bodies, and become a voice within their own communities.

In southern Malawi, ADRA is running a project that helps women in the Mulanje district understand their rights, improve their health, and initiate self-supporting income generating activities. By its completion in April 2011, it is expected to have benefited 11,000 people directly, and 33,000 people indirectly, including both men and women.

“The project helps men see women as partners in development, improving marital relations among targeted men and women, a factor that has proven successful among other rural families,” said Per Bolling, project officer for ADRA Sweden.

In southern Chile, 200 women from indigenous Mapuche communities in the Araucania region participated in a one-year project that improved their self-esteem, raised awareness on issues relating to domestic and gender violence, and taught them about gender equality and women empowerment.

“We would like to see Mapuche women as a central protagonist of the destiny of the [Chilean] nation,” said José Antonio Viera-Gallo, special minister for the Presidency of the Republic of Chile, during the project closing ceremony held in October.

ADRA is also improving the literacy skills and health of an estimated 2,000 women and children in a region of Bangladesh where approximately 90 percent of women are illiterate.

“Most of the women have never attended a class before,” said Elidon Bardhi, country director for ADRA Bangladesh. “Many have indicated that the project has changed their lives.”

According to the World Health Organization, violence against women and girls is widespread and comes in a variety of forms, most notably through rape, sex trafficking, domestic abuse, sexual assault, honor killings, female genital mutilation, child marriage, sexual harassment, and emotional and verbal abuse.

In the United States, one-third of women murdered each year are killed by intimate partners. Women and girls constitute 80 percent of the estimated 800,000 people trafficked annually, with the majority—79 percent—trafficked for sexual exploitation. In addition, approximately 100 to 140 million girls and women in the world have experienced female genital mutilation/cutting, with more than 3 million girls in Africa annually at risk of the practice. In eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, at least 200,000 cases of sexual violence, mostly involving women and girls, have been documented since 1996, though the actual numbers are considered to be much higher, according to the United Nations Development Fund for Women.

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which is recognized annually on November 25, is designed to raise awareness regarding the issue of violence against women. Additional information about the enditnow™ campaign is available at www.enditnow.org.

Follow ADRA on Twitter and Facebook to get the latest information as it happens.

ADRA is a non-governmental organization present in 125 countries providing sustainable community development and disaster relief without regard to political or religious association, age, gender, race or ethnicity.

For more information about ADRA, visit www.adra.org.

Author: Nadia McGill

Monday, November 23, 2009

Kalinde's golden eggs

One of the ADRA Malawi, project activities, within the Let's Fight Aids in Malawi project, is to assist the Communities in the impact areas establish an Income Generating Activity for the entire 10 villages. The income from this business will provide the financial support for the various beneficiaries of the projects, constituted by HIV/AIDS affected households, including orphans and other vulnerable children, and chronically ill. Although different civil society community groups, like the youths, the volunteers and others have already been given the skills to care for the most vulnerable, this would be nearly impossible without the finances to meet the various needs like fees and food for the orphans and drugs for the chronically ill. ADRA supports the establishement of IGA's as a way to generate funds to carry on social work at the community level.

A Main Committee of 10 members, one from each village, was selected as was an Advisory Committee of 5 influential and respected people in the Community. These Committees were given a 5 day training in Business Management facilitated by District Social Welfare and Community Development Officers. They were then asked to choose the business that they wanted in consultation with the Community leaders and other members. The Kalinde Community chose Egg Production and after satisfying conditions like drawing a constitution and a business plan, it was decided to buy 200 day old chicks. During the enquiries, however, it was discovered that besides the traditional day old chicks, 5 week and 18 week old birds were also available. The 18 week old birds were preferred as the waiting period before laying would only be two to three weeks .

Since there was no time for a chicken house (khola) to be put up, an already standing structure was identified and rented. It was then renovated before being inspected and passed as suitable by the area’s Vet Officer. The chickens and the required items like feed and water troughs, bags of feeds, drugs and egg trays were delivered late on 28th August, to the delight of the Community. They could hardly believe that their dream had materialized so quickly. Seventeen days later, the first eggs were collected much to the delight of the Community. The ADRA Mulanje Office Staff visited the site on 18th to see for themselves and to deliver some more feeds.

As at the end of August, the Group had collected K25000 which has been banked. The Group will shortly stand on their own feet after they are supplied with the last 5 bags of feed

It is very encouraging to report that demand, which the team was worried about, is so high that all eggs collected are sold out daily with many more customers having to go home empty handed. This is a clear indication that there is room for further expansion.

Reported by: Stanley Mpasa -District Coordinator.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Exchange visits benefit IGA teams

The implementation of Income Generating Activities (IGA) has seen tremendous response from communities. When the issue of IGAs was presented to the communities in the course of the project, there was some doubt from some communities because groups were not to be given cash, rather, they were to be given grants in kind (communities were to be given commodities, machinery or livestock depending on what the groups choose). There were a lot of questions on how this method would work, but time has said it all, the grants have been given, community members have been trained and the committees received their commodities in the form of machinery or livestock, on behalf of their communities.
As part of an urge to improve their IGA three groups in Mulanje District conducted exchange visits. The groups wanted to learn from each other since the success of running an IGA is a big challenge as there are different people brought together for one cause.
For instance, the Income Generating Activity (IGA) Committee at Thembe (a site in Mulanje) has been facing a lot of challenges in the implementation of their activities. The turn out at Committee meetings and work gatherings has been very low and there was even drop out of members. Community mobilization has also been a challenge as has been the link up with the Traditional Leaders in the area. This was in marked contrast with Chisitu (another site in Mulanje), which has a similar IGA with Thembe (milk production).

The challenges prompted ADRA district staff to discuss the problem with both communities and developing the idea of having a exchange visit with the Thembe team visiting Chisitu. The idea was to give the two Committees a chance to share their experiences in the hope that Thembe would learn and rectify their shortfalls while Chisitu would also learn from their colleagues’ mistakes and avoid them. The idea was welcomed by both Committees and was held on 21st October, 2009.

The team from Thembe was accompanied by the Community Worker and the Veterinary Assistant from Ministry of Agriculture. The team from Chisitu outlined their strategy where by most of its committee members were Farm Club members (farms were initiated by ADRA), therefore, highly interested in farming and able to work as a group. The Committee also ensured the involvement of the Traditional Leaders and the Community right from the beginning. Another important point the team from Chisitu emphasized was on the importance of explaining to the community that the IGA was for the whole Community while the Committee just represented them. This was evidenced by the fact that they collected money to open their own bank account; Youths, Farmers, CFs and some Village members all contributed.The visiting team learnt the importance of involving the Leaders and the Community; it makes work easier and strengthens the sense of ownership.

The visitors were shown the Chisitu khola (kraal) and the field of elephant grass planted to feed the cows. The visiting group was impressed and is now determined to do their best to catch up. Even the Vet Assistant vowed to do all she can to turn things round.

Much as the other site, Mbiza, is rearing chickens, the ideas on how to run a business was of relevance to the group as well, hence the group from Chisitu visited their counterparts from Mbiza site.

In all these visitations the groups shared ideas on how to strengthen ties within the community and with community leaders. They also shared best practices on how to run business especially that they are working as a team of more than ten people.

At the end of the exchange members of both groups made a very positive balance of the activity. Visibly motivated the groups mentioned how important the activity had been and their plans to continue interacting and sharing information.

Author: Stanley Mpasa - Mulanje District Coordinator

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A full life

As ADRA’s, LEFAM Project is currently preparing for its exit on 31st January 2010, the ADRA team and community partners continues with interventions in HIV&AIDS prevention, Food Security, Community Home Based Care Providers’ services, Psychosocial support to HIV affected families, Community Based Organizations strengthening, Nutrition demonstrations/trainings and Community Dialogue Sessions. These have positively impacted communities in general and individual families.

Picture: Represents a family supported by an ADRA project but not the family and situation of the story.

Anna (not real name), 27 years old is married to Chimwemwe (not real name) with 2 children: a girl 7 years, and a boy 4 years old.

This family stays in Mikundi at the trading center. Mikundi is one of the 4 project sites in Mchinji district.

In an interview with Anna, she reported that on 10th October 2004, both her and her husband tested HIV positive and their lives experienced episodes of illnesses and this greatly affected their family life, household income and community participation.

In 2005 the husband ventured into a small scale business. He and Anna joined and opened up a small canteen where they bake and sale bread. The problem during this time was that they could barely cover the costs for their medication. This continued until when the ADRA project came to their area in January 2007.

Anna developed an interest in voluntary services and joined the project as a Community Facilitator. Despite her sero- positive status, Anna’s curiosity grew as she continued attending meetings and trainings conducted by ADRA LEFAM staff in the area. She is one of the CHBC Providers trained by LEFAM. The more she attended these forums the more she gathered knowledge and skills that are being translated into meaningful service.

She learnt about: HIV&AIDS prevention, Food Security activities, psychosocial services,

participated in nutrition demonstrations and Community Dialogue Sessions and meetings conducted by Community Facilitators supervised by Community Worker at the site, among other things.

With great enthusiasm Anna shared her experiences with her husband and started planning positively. No sooner had she shared this with her husband than they jointly planned for the improvement of their small scale business as well as their health status.

According to her responses upon the interview conducted, Anna and her spouse are doing very well in their business. Apart from baking and selling bread, they are also frying and selling chips (Irish potatoes) at the trading center at a very profitable note. She reported that they are making a great deal in their business transaction. When further interrogated she mentioned how much they get per day as follows:

For Irish potato chips, they make K 2,500 to K3, 500 per day and for the bread bakery they make K2, 000 to K2, 500 per day as well. Their family is very happy and healthy.

Besides this business transaction, Idah and her husband are one of the most industrious farmers in the area. They use knowledge gained through ADRA and produce compost manure, and have a vegetable garden which is vibrant to date.

“This is all because of the ADRA LEFAM project that has given all the knowledge and skills in both food security and positive health living with the HIV. My husband and I are living very happy and physically strong. All our domestic chores are done by us and there is no more time for sickness any more.” Remarked Anna.

She is one of the most active Community Facilitators in the area. To them time for illness is a bygone.

Information collected and written by:Watson Chikopa (District Coordinator Liaison Officer)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bicycle Ambulances

As observed by Karren Allen, BBC reporter, (click here to access the report) bicycle ambulances are playing an important role in reducing maternal and newborn deaths in Malawi.

Since beginning of this year ADRA Malawi, assisted by ADRA Denmark and private donors in Denmark, such as FEJERSEN, donated 7 bicycle ambulances and trained 7 Community Home Base Care Providers Committees with skills in basic health care and bicycle maintenance. Before the end of the year an additional 7 new bicycle ambulances will be provided.

In 2010, ADRA Malawi, assisted by ADRA International, will conduct a World Wide campaign to provide at least 90 additional bicycle ambulances to rural communities in Malawi. This campaign will be featured in the upcoming ADRA International Gift Catalog.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

ADRA network commemoration of World Food Day

The ADRA network commemoration of World Food Day, highlighted the work to fight hunger that ADRA Malawi is conducting. Read the article bellow or follow the link to the story in the ADRA International website.
A central focus of ADRA Malawi’s activity has been to improve food security and resilience of households in Malawi. This has involved activity across three main areas of increasing food availability, strengthening local economies and improving nutrition through processing and utilization. Additionally ADRA Malawi is partnering with the World Food Program to carry out relief operations and reducing the vulnerability of communities in the Phalombe District.
ADRA International article.
Author: Nadia McGill

SILVER SPRING, Md. —On October 16, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) joins the world in commemorating World Food Day, recognizing an immediate need for increased access to food in many countries, as the number of the world’s hungry continues to grow, and the amount of food assistance shrinks.

According to the World Food Programme (WFP), the number of people globally suffering from hunger has reached a record high this year, surpassing more than 1 billion people. Meanwhile, the amount of available food aid has dropped to its lowest number in two decades.

“The double whammy of the financial crisis and the still record high food prices around the world is delivering a devastating blow,” said Josette Sheeran, executive director for WFP. “Throw in a storm, a drought, and conflict, and you have a recipe for disaster.”

To meet the ongoing challenges of today’s changing world, ADRA continues to implement much-needed projects that provide emergency and development relief to communities on the brink of starvation.

In Guatemala, where millions are currently struggling to survive the worst drought in 30 years, ADRA just completed a distribution of emergency food baskets for 377 families in some of the country’s worst affected communities.

“The problem is very serious,” said Otoniel Trujillo, country director for ADRA Guatemala. “There are many people that are currently in need of a lot of help.”

In response to the ongoing food crisis that is affecting an estimated 250,000 people in southern Madagascar, ADRA is partnering with WFP and other organizations to provide Food-for-Work and other activities for more than 18,000 households in the affected region. ADRA is also distributing more than 4,000 tons of food throughout 16 communities in the districts of Ambovombe and Tsihombe, in the Androy Region. Other partners include the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), also of the United Nations.

“In recent months, the food security situation in the south has steadily worsened,” said Peter Delhove, country director for ADRA Madagascar. “This project is expected to meet the needs of affected households in that region, helping them to make it to the next harvest.”

In order to fight malnutrition among Malawian children under the age of five, ADRA is working with the local government and other non-governmental organizations to train parents and care givers in nutrition, effective childcare, and healthy feeding habits, through an initiative called the Resilience and Capacity Building for Vulnerable Households and Communities affected by HIV/AIDS, Malawi project. In collaboration with trained health care providers, ADRA is supporting mothers who have malnourished children through training, practical cooking, infant feeding demonstrations, and counseling.

“ADRA believes that solutions for most of the problems can be found within the same communities,” said Thoko Mwapasa, project manager for ADRA Malawi.

Therefore, ADRA facilitates the transfer of knowledge within the community by drawing lessons and beneficial practices from mothers of well-nourished children from low-income families.

By the project’s completion in 2011, an estimated 2,000 children under five years of age from the districts of Mulanje and Neno, in southern Malawi will have benefited.

“The intervention can greatly contribute to better health outcomes for children under five who are often at risk of child mortality, since a lack of good nutrition leaves children vulnerable to frequent illnesses and poor growth,” said Mwapasa.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the vast majority of the world’s hungry live in developing countries, with 65 percent of those suffering from hunger found in India, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and Ethiopia. Nearly two-thirds of the world’s hungry live in Asia.

World Food Day was created to raise awareness about global food scarcity, motivating communities to get involved in the fight against world hunger.

Follow ADRA on Twitter and get the latest information as it happens.

ADRA is a non-governmental organization present in 125 countries providing sustainable community development and disaster relief without regard to political or religious association, age, gender, race or ethnicity.

For more information about ADRA, visit www.adra.org.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Volunteering in Malawi (2/2)

During the month of August ADRA Malawi was proud to host two high-school students from the UK for a week of volunteer experience. They were exposed to many different aspects of development, from working in the head office to a visit to a community based youth group, who use theatre to influence their community and raise awareness of issues such as domestic violence and HIV/AIDS. The following stories reflect their experiences and what impacted them during their week in Malawi.
Kerryn Lodo: Volunteer Supervisor

Author: Lahna Mawee-Patel

Whilst in Chiradzulu, I was given the opportunity to visit a child-run home. We interviewed a young man, Mphatso*, 21, who, along with his two younger brothers, aged 10 and 14, was orphaned 5 years ago sadly to the loss of his mother and abandonment of his father.

I was confused to hear that after the mother died, the father soon re-married and went to live with his wife and therefore leaving his eldest son to look after his younger siblings. I later learned that this was part of some Malawian cultures and that this was sometimes a normal thing to happen due to a matrilineal structure. Unfortunately, due to the situation of poverty present in Malawi the father was, and still has been unable to provide for his current family, let alone the boys. This also applies to members of the maternal family; they are also poverty stricken and cannot afford to care for the boys as well. Additional to this, HIV has also been an issue which has affected the support provided from the maternal family to the boys. With so many people passing away, the traditional support systems which would have assisted the boys and taken care of them in this situation are disintegrating or non-existent.

This is why ADRA provide extra support to groups like an IGA group. This is an income generating activity group (IGA) which is designed especially for cases like this. The group is able to choose a small business which they can start up so that they can earn a small income from it and assist vulnerable households in the community, such as Mpatso. In this particular case that I saw, the group decided to raise goats to share between community members. The IGA group supplied them with two goats as a starter provided that they give the first two kids to the next family in need of IGA group support. After this they can do whatever they need to with goats in order to sustain a living for themselves.

It was touching and encouraging to find that the eldest boy was very keen on making sure that his two younger brothers obtained a good education and go on to lead successful lives and maybe even work with ADRA one day! With the IGA, the family has been able to sell two goats which can provide them with enough money for a 1 year school fee making it all the more possible for the two younger boys to lead any life they wish to.

* Real Name not used.

Volunteering in Malawi (1/2)

During the month of August ADRA Malawi was proud to host two high-school students from the UK for a week of volunteer experience. They were exposed to many different aspects of development, from working in the head office to a visit to a community based youth group, who use theatre to influence their community and raise awareness of issues such as domestic violence and HIV/AIDS. The following stories reflect their experiences and what impacted them during their week in Malawi.
Kerryn Lodo: Volunteer Supervisor

Author: Bianca Mawee-Patel

When hearing that we would be seeing an active Theatre for Development program performed in a village, I was interested in seeing how a piece of theatre could really influence the community in changing their attitudes towards important issues.

The aim of Theatre for Development is to use live performance to communicate information across a range of sectors to bring about change in attitudes and lifestyle.

The youth community group is made up of around 15 boys and girls, although due to illness and lack of transport, only 7 were present at the performance in ­­­­­­­­­­­Chiradzulu. The youth group meets voluntarily once a week for about two hours, and as a group they discuss which issues they feel need to be bought to attention. They then create a short piece of theatre outlining this.

Everybody within the group gets involved and performs with real energy and passion for getting their message across. When asked why they attend the youth group, they all said that as youths, they had a responsibility to educate their community, change their attitudes and change the misconceptions towards issues such as HIV/AIDS, violence, theft and abuse.

Since the topics are quite sensitive – and some members might not want to be directly told about them – the youth group use music, song, dance, comedy, role plays and forums to get their message across. This serves two purposes, to provide the community with useful information and also as a form of entertainment where the whole community gathers together. There is a relaxed atmosphere where the community feels comfortable to get involved with the theatre. During the forum, at the end of the theatre, I was surprised to see how many people were speaking up about what they had learned from the youths. One of the youths stood in front of the community (which was made up of about 130 people of all ages) to outline the major aims of their piece.

The topic covered in the theatre I witnessed was awareness of HIV/AIDS. In the forum, the community was actively discussing the fact that a person has a right to know if their partner is HIV positive. But, what I found was the most interesting was the fact that instead of the youths simply telling the community the right answers, they were asking the community, letting them realise for themselves. This I feel is a good way of letting the community come up with the solutions to their own problems, remembering that there are no right answers, as every community differs ( one community might have come up with a different solution to another). During the role-play, it was good to see the community really responding to the issues covered. This was either through the comedy and the fact that they could relate.

This experience has shown Theatre for Development to be an extremely effective way in creating dialogue and change in the community and the responses were really positive. The youths do so much to try and educate their community and it’s obvious to see that they feel that they have a responsibility as youths to change the ways of the community. In comparison the youth in the UK are not as active as in Malawi, and it’s a real eye opener to compare the priorities of a youth in Malawi who wants to influence change within their community against the priority of youth in the UK who have a much more individual focus.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

“Tikuferanji” takes new turn ('The Daily Times' - article)

Again, one of the main newspapers in Malawi, chooses to feature an article about ADRA Malawi. This specific article presents an external view about the impact that our Communication for Social Change program, Tikuferanji, is having in the Malawian society and presents several unexpected outcomes that show of the importance of the strategy. In special I would like to underline the great honor that was for ADRA Malawi to have the President of the Republic, commenting on one of the episodes, and for the interesting analyses that the journalist, McDonald Chapalata, makes of the public intervention of the President.

Bellow the tanscript made by Aninde Migogo, from ADRA Malawi, of the “The Daily Times” newspaper article.

Title: “Tikuferanji” takes new turn

Source: The Daily Times (October 7, 2009)

By: McDonald Chapalapata – Journalist of “The Daily Times”

It all started with one straight forward question: Tikuferanji? Which literary translated meant why are we dying? The reason of such deaths was HIV/AIDS, according to the project.

The drama series produced by the Adventist Development Relief Agency(ADRA) has been on the radio for nearly 13 years and on television for approximately 8 years spreading the message on HIV/AIDS issues.

As one of the most popular television shows in the country, Tikuferanji received the radio play of the Year Award at the 2008 MBC Entertainers of Year Awards, and it has been voted the best advocacy programme in Malawi on radio and television. It also received the Best Achiever Award in 2007.

But the focus of the drama series has slowly been widening to encompass not only HIV/AIDS issues but also addressing issues on human rights, gender, democracy and other social topics.

Even the head of state has commented on some of the issues being raised by the drama series.

“ I saw a play a few weeks ago where one who had just voted and dipped his two fingers with ink was saying he was going to demand money for voting for President and MP. If that person came to me I could have blasted him” President Bingu Muntharika told a campaign rally before by- elections in Ndirande Central constituency in July this year.

The play he had seen was Tikuferanji on Television Malawi (TVM) where Manganya (played by Michael Usi) was demanding money for voting for a President and a member of Parliament.

This issue attracted a huge debate on the roles of the MPs where buying of coffins during funerals was not one of them.

During the campaign period, another social issue the programme exposed was the problem of power blackouts in the country.

Manganya was President of Nginana party and made electricity his campaign tool telling prospective voters how lack of consistent power supply retards development.

Recently, the consumer Association Of Malawi (CAMA) took electricity Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) to task over its slogan of “Power all day everyday”

Escom has since changed the slogan to a more realistic one of “Towards Power all day everyday”

In July this year Manganya was invited by the Malawi Defence force for a 20-kilometre march to raise awareness of the HIV/AIDS in the army.

Usi, who is deputy Country Director for ADRA said in an interview this week that they have decided to broaden the focus of the series because they are sensitive to issues affecting the citizenry.

“We are in touch with the people on the ground, the citizenry and we would want to address issues that affect them. We have to move with time,” Usi said.

He said for example, the drama series which is going to be aired tomorrow night on TVM will centre on a football match between Malawi and Ivory Cost who are playing on Saturday at Kamuzu Stadium.

“Football is one of the things that are dear or close to the hearts of the people and we will be addressing that issue but at the same time we will not be forgetting the theme of this programme, Tikuferanji?or why are we dying?” he said.

But how did he feel when the President commented on his play?

“The Presidents comments motivated us. It really pays when you do research and present issues which even the head of state comments on,” Usi said.

He said there was an outcry from both the MPs and the constituents on the roles of MPs which incuded buying of coffins and helping people with food.

“We should look at both sides of this issue. People pester MPs a lot sometimes on simple things like food, camping at an MPs house just to get food and that is why maybe they desert the village and live in town,” Usi said.

He also said other MPs just “leave” their constituents and live in town without any reason.

“We were looking at an opportune time to deliver the message and I am glad that when we did, it was acted upon by the President.” Usi said.

He says before producing the series on different issues, he consults widely including lawyers.

Tikuferanji is a serious programme presented in a lighter manner,” summed up Usi.

He says ADRA conducts community dialogue sessions where they get to know issues affecting people.

Usi also says their communications team search for information from the internet, newspaper, radios and many other forms of media.

He says because of the successes of the communication for development innovations, ADRA Malawi’s projects are a benchmark for other countries like Burundi, Zimbabwe and even Sweden.

“ Denmark sent me to Burundi to set up a radio programme on the healing process of the war on children. The programme is up and running and many are learning and appreciating the importance of conflict resolution,” Usi says.

Apart from the drama series ADRA is involved in other community based programmes aiming at improving the welfare of the people.

In the civil society and empowerment programme, ADRA Malawi holds community participation and management as a priority and endeavors to build capacity of communities in leadership, governance and democratic processes to promote inclusion.

ADRA is also involved in food security and resilience programme where the main emphasis is increasing food availability, strengthening local economies and improving nutrition.

Usi pays tribute to their donors, the Danish government for supporting them “although it severed its ties with the Malawi government”.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Reducing Underweight and Malnutrition of Children in Malawi.

ADRA MALAWI, in its effort to assist the Government of Malawi in reducing child malnutrition among under five children is promoting good child care and feeding practices for under fives in Mulanje and Neno districts.

ADRA is following an approach called Positive Deviance(PD Hearth) in its fight against malnutrition. Health workers are trained in child care and feeding. Children from each village are then weighed and using Z score, malnourished children are identified. Those in -3 are considered severe and referred to Rehabilitation Units but those in -2 Z score are referred to group feeding program within the village.

Mary is a 3 year old girl is one of the beneficiaries of the Positive Deviance - PD Hearth program. Mary’s parents are divorced and she lives with her 23 year old mother. The mother has problems maintaining the health status of the child mainly because she had no knowledge in approriate child feeding and care. This led Mary to be malnourished. Before joining the feeding program, Mary weighed 11.4 Kilograms against normal weight for age of 14.3 kilograms. After 12 days of feeding, Mary weighed 12.3 kilograms gaining 0.9 Kilograms.

Her mother says, her child was sick most of the times because she didn’t know how to prepare her nutritious food. Having been encouraged by the village headman and Health workers, she decided to take the child for the village based group child feeding program. She says she is able to get the resources needed, because they are locally found and she will continue preparing the same even after graduating from the PD Hearth program and until the child gains normal weight against her age.

In this intervention all women with underweight children come together for a 12 day feeding program. Unlike other programs which provide the feed, ADRA does not provide food instead, women contribute towards the feeding exercise. They cook porridge and feed the children for 12 days. Ingredients into the porridge include: maize flour, pigeon peas, or soya , milk, groundnuts, egg, vegetable, sugar and where possible a little drop of oil.

This intervention also goes a long way to reduce child mortality since most of the child killer diseases are a result of nutrition deficiency.

After the program completion the ADRA staff continues to monitor the children with the assistance of the government Health Workers and Village Volunteers, to ensure that the children continue to improve and gain weight and monitor their health after the PD Heart intensive program ends.

Author: Moses Mpezeni – Project M&E Officer

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Information Booklet

ADRA Malawi launches an online informative report focusing on its main areas of intervention:
- Communication for Development (or Communication for Social Change)
- Civil Society and Empowerment
- Food Security and Resilience building
- Health Initiatives (including HIV/AIDS and Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights)

This publication is intended to open a window on ADRA Malawi's program.

To download the booklet click here

Thursday, September 24, 2009

In Malawi, Popular ADRA TV Program Expands Audience

SILVER SPRING, Md. — In Malawi, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) has reached an agreement with a privately owned television station to broadcast a successful television and radio series that uses drama to educate the public about HIV/AIDS spread and prevention by highlighting responsible and safe sexual behavior.

“As a TV station we thought it wise to enter into partnership with ADRA to start showing Tikuferanji as part of sensitizing people about the HIV/AIDS pandemic,” said Father Andrew Kaufa, a representative of Luntha Television, which broadcasts from Balaka, a city located southeast of Malawi’s capital city of Lilongwe. He added that this was another opportunity for more people to watch the programs.

Tikuferanji, which means, “Why are we dying?” in the national Chichewa language, addresses important HIV/AIDS related issues, such as the importance of blood testing, condom use, marital and family relations, and faithfulness. Recently, the program has also taken on other topics that affect human rights, such as child labor and personal responsibility, using HIV/AIDS as a platform.

The program, at times recorded in local villages, discusses the personal experiences of people who have been affected by HIV/AIDS and other related issues, providing a sense of reality to the drama.

Tikuferanji is already being broadcast on Television Malawi and the state-run Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC). It has been on the radio in Malawi for nearly 13 years and on television for approximately eight. As one of the most popular television shows in Malawi, it received last December the “Radio Play of the Year Award” at the 2008 MBC Entertainers of Year Awards, and has been voted the best advocacy program in Malawi on radio and television. It also received the Best Achiever Award in 2007.

According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), nearly 12 percent of Malawians between the ages of 15 and 49, or 840,000 people, live with HIV. An additional 91,000 children under the age of 14 are also living with the deadly virus.

Since 1982, ADRA Malawi has been working in the areas of disaster relief, water and sanitation, HIV/AIDS, family planning, agriculture, primary health, basic education, and empowerment of vulnerable groups, such as women and children.

ADRA is a non-governmental organization present in 125 countries providing sustainable community development and disaster relief without regard to political or religious association, age, gender, race or ethnicity.

For more information about ADRA, visit www.adra.org.

Author: Nadia McGill

(Original article can be found in the ADRA International Website)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Harvesting fish in the mainland

On Thursday September 17, 2009, communities from VH Ngandanga, in Phalombe district harvested their fish from their community owned pond, created back in 2007, as part of ADRA’s intervention in the area, through a Food for Assets initiative implemented in partnership with WFP.

They managed to harvest a total of 62.5KGs of which the Community Management Committee agreed to sale at MK400.00/kg which will fetch not less than MK20,000.00. The cash realized will be used, by the Community Committee to support the orphans and vulnerable children and chronically ill within their community.

Although this village is in an area vulnerable to both floods and droughts, the creation of such community diversification and income generating activities empowers communities to become resilient to disasters and be able to support its most vulnerable members.

Other community assets created with ADRA support include: irrigation schemes, poultry production, maize mills, amongst many other.

Author: Hastings Lacha

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Manganya marching with Malawi Defence Force

By Michael Usi - Deputy Country Director/ADRA Malawi

I will always regard July 24 of this year 2009 as one of my best days of my life in my career as a human rights advocate and an artist because I feel I made an impact on the society in a different way, than usual.

On this day, I was invited to Mzuzu by Moyale Barracks, where they had a function with a theme; "A strong family, a foundation to a strong community," and this started with a march from Kaka Motel to Moyale Barracks, about 20 km.

This function was aimed at strengthening the families of people in Mzuzu, particularly families of the soldiers, the organizers of the function. This came from a background that the HIV/AIDS has not spared the Army, and with a strong family, it would mean a husband and wife remaining faithful to each other, and in the long run being able to avoid contracting the virus that causes AIDS.

This can greatly help the fight against the HIV/AIDS, and that was why I felt duty bound to honor the invitation. They considered inviting me as a human rights advocate and an actor, especially because of my roll in Tikuferanji. They considered that the role of Tikuferanji is also to strengthen the marriages and this matched with their theme.

During the march, Major L.D.G put me as a front man, so I led this match from Kaka Motel to the barracks, the venue where speeches were made.

With my stage title Manganya, the march attracted the youth and the old along the way to the barracks, and the message was loud and clear and spread to the communities that a strong family, is indeed a strong foundation for a strong community.

Most interesting thing was for the soldiers to be the initiators, because soldiers are mostly perceived by some people as those who do not care about their lives, let alone families, but here they were, able to spread the good message among themselves and to the community as a whole.

To me, that's a move in a right direction. Most importantly, the excited community joined the march. On arrival at the barracks, speeches were made and during that function, the soldiers honored me by giving me an opportunity to address them. I asked them to keep playing a role in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Most importantly, they gave me an Army uniform and asked me to continue spreading the message about what soldiers are doing to strengthen the families and communities, and the effort they are putting in to fight HIV/AIDS. I do it on the television.

I wear this uniform during the acting of some of the ADRA Malawi acclaimed "Tikuferanji" TV programs, that I also direct, where we spread the message about HIV/AIDS, including what soldiers are doing about it. I do this with great pride because I have never imagined that soldiers can fully participate in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and I was humbled by their invitation, I did not take it for granted. With the Army band playing, they made my day and I am looking forward to more of that.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tikuferanji on Luntha TV

Last Friday, 11th September, the two most important news papers in the Country, “The Nation” and “The Daily Times”, have published articles on the recently signed agreement between ADRA Malawi and the private television Luntha TV to broadcast the ADRA Malawi acclaimed TV series “Tikuferanji”.

The program has been on radio for almost thirteen years and on TV for about eight years. The initial purpose for the program was to deal with issues of HIV/AIDS in Malawi. The program has now taken on board other issues that affect the respect of human rights; HIV/AIDS being a cross cutting issue.

Journalist Sam Banda Jnr, writes on the Daily Times:

The popular Tikuferanji series which viewers have been watching on Malawi Television (TVM) will soon be beamed on Balaka based Television Luntha. This follows the signing of a contract on Wednesday between Adventist Relief Agency (ADRA) and TV Luntha. Producer of Tikuferanji series Michael Usi popularly known as Manganya confirmed the development. He said the signing of the contract was a positive development in that Tikuferanji will be able to reach out to more people.“At TVM we have restricted our productions because we pay but with TV Luntha it will be free and we will be able to give them more material” said Usi. Father Andrew Kaufa of TV Luntha who signed the contract on behalf of his TV station said this was another opportunity for more people to watch the soap. “As a TV station we thought it wise to enter into partnership with ADRA to start showing Tikuferanji as part of sensitizing people about the HIV/AIDS PANDEMIC” said Kaufa. He said as a TV station, they acknowledge the fact that HIV/AIDS was killing more people, a development that prompted them to join in the fight. “We are a faith – based TV station which aims at evangelizing but we also have a duty to assist government in various campaigns” he said. Kaufa said they also decided to beam Tikuferanji because it is entertaining and educative. Under the agreement, ADRA will be giving the Tikuferanji productions to TV Luntha just like it does with TVM. Kaufa said TV Luntha will be beaming the soap for free and that other productions not watched on TVM will be included,” he said. He said despite being a religious TV, the content will not be tampered with. “We will have it twice a week starting Saturday from 6:30pm and Wednesday also from 6:30pm,” said Kaufa. TV Luntha which is owned by Montfort Missionaries was opened on 27th May 2007.

The Nation journalist Kondwani Kamiyala writes:

Balaka based Luntha Television on Wednesday entered into a pact with ADRA where the station will air the Tikuferanji soap, which is also aired on Television Malawi. Luntha Deputy Director Father Andrew Kaufa said beaming the soap, which tackles the multi- pronged aspects of the HIV and AIDS pandemic, is within their line of entertaining, educating and informing Malawians. “As soap, Tikuferanji is entertaining as well as educative. It is a powerful means of educating people. These are types of programmes our viewers enjoy. This is our contribution to society,” said Kaufa. Tikuferanji Director Michael Usi said viewers would watch the first episodes of the soap, which was first aired seven years ago. “We are glad to work with Luntha who will air the programme for free. Lovers of the programme will enjoy because we will beam from the very first episodes of the soap” said Usi. According to Usi, this is a new dimension in the Tikuferanji success story: “Tikuferanji has been a success. Several countries have been coming to us on how we do it. Recently I was helping the Burundians set up a programme for children on reconciliation. Some people from Tanzania and Papua New Guinea were here to learn from us.” Established in 2007, Luntha Television covers parts of the Southern Region, including Mulanje, Chiradzulu, Chikwawa, Blantyre, Zomba, Machinga, Mangochi, Ntcheu, Salima and Dedza.