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.

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