Wednesday, May 26, 2010

ADRA Malawi participates in Enditnow Campaign ... End violence against women and girls

Author: Chikondi Madumuse & Krystle Praestiin

Event: EnditNow, Mulumulu Mission Campus, Muapasa, Chiolo District

Violence against women is an issue that if traced, could span the time of history. Due to their vulnerability women and girls have been the main victims of gender based violence. It wears many masks, often silent but always merciless and in some circumstances condoned and taken as part of life.

With this in mind, the Seventh Day Adventist church through its department of Women Ministries and Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) set up a campaign to end this malpractice titled, “EnditNow”. Together with the South Malawi Field Offices and ADRA Malawi, an afternoon campaign was organised on the Malamulo Mission Campus; one of the oldest and biggest sites of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Malawi. The site contains a Hospital, Nursing school, Health Science School, Secondary School, Primary Schools and Publishing house among others.

In Malawi Dorcas women are known for their hospitality and helping the needy, and on this day the Dorcas women took charge. Unified chants accompanied the group of marching women as they descended from a small hill onto the football field, the stage of the campaign. Some women held placards with messages like: “Stop Violence against Children and Women”, “Say No to Violence and Abuse” and “Adventist Women Say No to Violence”. These messages were also reflected in their chants.

Following their march several speakers began dispelling misconceptions about violence against women. They spoke with determination and conviction that Violence against women must end. Pastor Lubani, of Malamulo Mission stated that as followers of Jesus Christ we need to base our arguments against violence towards women on the Bible. He said that “man and woman were created equal and should complement each other.” He quoted from Genesis 2 verse 18 “The Lord said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone, I will make a helper suitable for him,” and stated that this verse has been misinterpreted because the verse does not undermine women but rather puts women at an equal level to man. It also states that women are vital in helping a man to execute his duties properly.

Echoing this message was the representative from the Ministry of Women and Gender. She stated that gender based violence negates the performance of women and girls, socially, economically and even spiritually. And that gender based violence has not spared church goers. Abusers and those abused are still in the church.

To conclude the speeches a representative from ADRA, Andiyesa Mhango, project manger for the Women Empowerment project in Mulanje, illustrated the various initiatives that have been implemented to curb gender based violence and explained that despite these interventions incidences are still high in Malawi. This can be easily seen just by following media outlets like the radio and newspapers. The issue of gender violence is therefore, a very real and very big problem that also affects members of the church. “It’s high time we take a stand to end violence in Malawi,” said Mhango.

The campaign to enditnow was an opportunity for the Seventh-day Adventist Church and ADRA Malawi to publicly take a stand against gender violence and to express God’s compassion and concern for victims of violence. The finale of the campaign was the signing of a petition that will be sent to the United Nations. The petition represents a commitment to ending violence. Those who signed the petition on the day were declaring their commitment to do what they can to end violence and to speak against it.

It is the aim of the Seventh-day Adventist church to obtain at least 1,000,000 signatures on their enditnow petition. It is their way of showing that Adventists have taken a stand to fight one of the greatest evils of our time and to enhance the livelihoods of women and children around the world.

ADRA Malawi has made a commitment to draw people to sign the petition as one way of voicing out its stand against gender violence. In signing the petition we are joining hands with people all around the world, to uphold love and respect amongst every human being regardless of gender.

Show your commitment to stamping out violence against women and girls by signing the enditnow petition. Visit to sign the petition and to join hands with people around the world who are committed to ending gender violence.

However, don’t just stop there do what you can to put your commitment into action- speak to your neighbours about it, be aware of anyone who may be abused and support them or donate to ADRA projects that work to put an end to gender violence.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Total Recall from dependancy

Author: Mercy Chakoma (Food security & Nutrition Officer)

Tsogolo Labwino Project funded by AUSAID through ADRA Australia (Salima District, Malawi)

Sometimes life begins at 40. At least this is what Metrina Mkumpha agrees to be true, she feels like a fresh college graduate, as finally, at the age of 49 she is able to handle her own money and run a small business, thanks to the support she received from the Tsogolo Labwino project’s Village Savings and Loans initiative.

Before her introduction to the Savings and Loans group Metrina Mkumpha as per tradition, hoped to become a respect elder in her village after spending 30 years in marriage. During this time she had become fully reliant on her husbands provision for basic house hold needs and the needs of their 8 children. She had no concept of one day playing the role of household head for her family.

Metrina could smell the sweetness of good fortune with the many children she had born. However, roses started to mix with thorns when her husband developed a drinking problem and later married another woman from a nearby village. Her husband spent most of the time with his new wife, leaving her alone and with little to no assistance, she couldn’t even get help from her children who had all married and moved to distant villages.

Hard times forced Metrina to learn how to participate in group activities. She joined women in a neighboring village who were assisting each other through round robin, fortnight contributions for two members at a time. With this arrangement she received K3,000 after two months, in a group of 10 women. Although this provided some welcomed relief she had to wait for long periods of time before the benefits could be realized.

When the Tsogolo Labwino project introduced the Savings and Loans initiative to the Chisangalalo women’s group, Metrina promptly joined. Upon joining the group Metrina was elected the groups chairperson. To ensure her total commitment she quit the first group, as per the requirements of the Savings and Loans group constitution.

Within three months of her time in the Savings and Loans group Metrina has bought K2000 in shares which has entitled her access to loans. Metrina says that the current initiative allows her to save whilst having regular access to loans when needed. If the amount for the loan is not enough, she will get back her shares with interest after 12 months which is double the benefit from the previous single saving group.

Already she has borrowed three loans. The first two loans Metrina used to start up a baking business before changing to tomato vending in April. The reason for her change was because she realized that the baking business did not attract many customers in the harvesting season as people have a wide variety of food to eat such as, cassava, sweet potato and green maize.

Metrina expects to buy more shares in the coming months through her business. She also dreams of roofing her house with corrugated iron sheets one day. She is very sure to achieve this dream because as chairperson of this savings and loans group and also a committee member of Kumanga Umodzi committee she has to be exemplary.

Metrina encourages all women to work hard, including women who have husbands because from her personal experience she saw the struggle that comes from trying to earn a living for one self when the man is no longer around. She has also found that men sometimes are more motivated to stay with women who contribute financially to their family other than just through household chores.

Have you guessed the conclusion to her ordeal?

The husband wants to come back home and is often found pestering their marriage counselors to reconcile them because he can now see Metrina’s potential in contributing to their household.

Metrina Mkumpha (in white blouse) selling tomatoes at her home stead.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Tsogolo Labwino (Towards a Brighter Future)

Author: Krystle Praestiin

A cool breeze caresses my face as I sit under a clump of mature mango trees, listening to the rhythmic beating of African drums and women’s feet as they dance around the drummers, chanting songs that reflect the joy that comes from the lessons and activities that ADRA Malawi has been involving them in. Even the babies can’t escape the celebrations, strapped firmly to their mother’s backs their heads bop to the sway of their mother’s dancing. I laugh as the tiniest of babies sleeps soundly on its mothers back as she bounces up and down, seemingly unaware of the significance of today’s event, yet inadvertently, actively involved. It is truly a community event; even the chickens have come to the open day of the Tsogolo Labwino project (funded by AusAid through ADRA Australia), in the small village of Mndola in the Salima District.

The purpose of the open day is for the community to show case the project's community driven activities to the members of the community, village leaders, government officials and other interested NGOs, through songs, dramas, speeches and demonstrations under the theme “Extension that Works with Partnerships can Make a Difference”.

By far the most interesting part of this open day has been walking around the village to see the demonstrations of various activities, that ADRA trained leaders from groups called Kumanga Umodzi (Buildi
ng Togetherness) have been involved in. Activities displayed included: homestead gardening, manure making, water point management, and food preservation, food processing techniques (e.g. alternative uses of Soya beans), Saving & Loans groups (S&L), Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) mobile clinic for HIV and Functional Adult Literacy (FAL) classes. At each station one of the Kumanga Umodzi leaders would explain what they had been taught and the process they had been trained in to, for example, make their garden or their manure, this was followed by a question and answer time for spectators who wished for more information about various aspects of the activities.

Even though I could not understand what was being said as they were all speaking Chichewa
(seriously need to start learning this language), I could understand the smiles and the gleam of pride in their eyes. For these Kumanga Umodzi leaders each activity represents an opportunity for a better more empowered life, not just for them but for their families and their community as a whole. The gardens represent a more sustainable source of food, the food processing techniques represent a chance to improve their diets and to start a small business to support their family, and the Functional Adult Literacy classes represent greater choices and opportunities in a life that once offered only one.

When I spoke with the VCT mobile clinic volunteer (34 year old Mr Amon Chimphepo, father of four children and also an ADRA community facilitator for the village) he said that because of the readily available tests and information being presented to them people have learnt
the importance of knowing their HIV/AIDS status. It is in the knowing that they can start receiving Anti Retroviral (ARV) treatments; treatments that help them live longer and healthier lives, lives that can save their children from being orphaned. However, he laments that despite people coming for voluntary testing and counseling they have a problem in accessing Anti Retroviral drugs which are found at the government hospital 30 km from the village. This impedes many people who do not have the energy to travel the distance every month to acquire the much sought after medication. Mr Chimphepo was trained by a government run project called Management Science for Health together with a lady assistant and was provided with a testing kit for the community. ADRA's role has been to encouraged him to reach out to as many house holds in the community through the provision of a push bike and diverse skills in leadership and group management. Since the project began in July 2009, he has tested more than 300 people for HIV/AIDS and today he tested 4 more people. He is very proud of the role he plays in the development of his community and so grateful for the encouragement that ADRA has given him to provide this much needed service.

Today, I saw what hope looks like and I saw how important it is to empower communitie
s with knowledge and opportunities to create for themselves a better future. Seeing the activities and speaking with the people was so uplifting and encouraging. It is great to know what I am a part of and if I had not been too shy, I would have joined the dancing circle and celebrated with them.

Note the ff:

FAL- Functional Adult Li

S&L- Savings and Loans

KU- Kumanga Umodzi (Building Togetherness)

VCT – Voluntary Counseling an
d Testing

Friday, May 7, 2010

Second anniversary of ADRA Malawi Today

May 6, marks the second anniversary of ADRA Malawi Today. During the two years of existence, published 101 stories, and had, on average, over 5 different visitors a day in a total of 3748 visitors during the 24 months.
During the last year, the top 5 countries reading ADRA Malawi Today where: United States of America (528), Malawi (415), United Kingdom (169), Australia (85), and South Africa (81); during the last 12 months, 105 different countries were recorded as visitors of ADRA Malawi Today.
We have received contributions from several members of staff from ADRA Malawi and our visiting partners, providing their impressions of the day to day of ADRA Malawi’s work at the community level.
Zikomo Kwambiri (thank you very much in Chichewa) for your interest.