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

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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

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)