Friday, December 21, 2012

Over 20 sex workers set for vocational training

Elias Banda
29 rehabilitated sex workers aged between 18 and 30 are now set to undergo various vocational trades under the auspices of Center for Youth Rehabilitation CYR in Blantyre. The development emerged after CYR was featured on ADRA Malawi sponsored Zatonse Radio Program in March and October this year.
According to Marko Chipwaila, CYR Executive Director his organization received positive response from organizations and individuals after the radio program, including the National AIDS Commission (NAC)   which offered to sponsor the 29 sex workers through the Technical Enterprise and Vocational Training Authority (TEVET).
 Mr Chipwaila said the sex workers would undergo trades such plumbing, tailoring, electrical installations, hair dressing, carpentry, refrigeration and bricklaying which he said would transform them into meaningful citizens of this country. 
The trainings start on December 27 and would go on for the next three months.
CYR was formed in 2009 with the aim of rehabilitating, promoting and protecting the Malawian youths through psycho-socio, economic and spiritual programs in Blantyre, Zomba and Mulanje districts.

In September this year, CYR collaborated with Blantyre City Council and launched a sensitization campaign in Blantyre townships, targeting sex workers. During the campaign, 72 sex workers were identified and 10 of them were vulnerable youths.

Zatonse Radio platform  is sponsored by ADRA Malawi through the Action for Change Program which is being supported by Denmark to bring about society and individual change in Malawi.

Friday, December 7, 2012

ADRA Malawi heads GBV Committee in Mulanje

By Elias Banda

ADRA Malawi through the Enhanced Livelihood and Gender Empowerment (ELGE) Project is currently chairing the technical committee on Gender Based Violence (GBV) in the district ahead of the event marking the winding of activities marking 16 days of Activism against Gender Violence. 
I6 days of Activism against Gender violence is a global campaign  that highlights the plight of women and calls for action to end all forms of gender related violence. The event, which connects between women, violence and human rights was launched on November 25 and will end on December 10.
women are victims of wife abandoning in Mulanje

According to Andiyesa Mhango, ELGE Project Manager,  the GBV committee is focusing on rising awareness on highly reported GBV cases in the district.  She said that common among GBV cases are wife abandonment and rape.
She said that Mulanje District is alarmed with cases where men are abandoning their wives for no valid reasons, making them desperate to survive. She said that this has been quoted as a form of violence because many women depend on marriage for survival and the abandonment makes them vulnerable to HIV/AIDS.
Andiyesa also said that rape cases are higher in the district but hinted that the most common form of rape is that which involves younger girls. She said that there is a common belief that if a man rapes a younger girl, he would succeed in cutting and selling good timber from Mulanje Mountain.  Timber selling is currently hot business in the district and men have gone on rampage, raping girls in order to prosper in business.
In the wake of the event, ADRA Malawi and partners are sensitizing community members in the district. Recently, ADRA Malawi, through Action for Social Change Program (ASC) facilitated capacity building for civil society actors in the district to map out a strategy on the campaign.
The event ending 16 days of activisms will take place in Mulanje on December 18. The event will be characterized by speeches, drama, testimonies, dances and songs. 
The ELGE Project is supported by the Sweden and ASC program is funded by Denmark to bring about individual and society change in Mulanje District. The ELGE Project is being implemented in Traditional Authority Chikumbu while ASC program is targeting communities in Traditional Authority Juma.

Friday, November 23, 2012

DFID, Malawi Government applauds ADRA Malawi

By Hastings Lacha and Elias Banda

The British Department for International Development (DIFD) Mission and the Malawi Government have applauded ADRA Malawi   for rolling out food aid efforts in Phalombe District which is under  the Vulnerability Assessment Committee ( MVAC)  targeted food distribution program.
The team addresses beneficiaries

On November 7 this year,  a team comprising DFID, World Food Program (WFP), Malawi Government Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DODMA) visited Mileme and Namanjelema in the district where over 12000 households are targeted for the food aid program.

Between March and April this year, the MVAC report indicated that an estimated 1.6 million people in the country needed food assistance for the 2012/2013 consumption period. And in July this year, the World Food Program WFP declared the food situation in the country as serious, prompting the Emergency Food Aid Program JEFAP consortium to step up efforts with the assistance from Malawi Government and DFID for emergency food program in the affected areas. ADRA Malawi belongs to the JEFAP consortium, which was formed in 2002.
The team inspecting the warehouse

Phalombe is one of the districts that hit by the hunger situation among other areas in the Southern Malawi due to recurrent dry spells and floods during the 2011/2012 agriculture season. 

It was against this background that ADRA Malawi began the operations in Phalombe, targeting 12, 760 households who are receiving a food basket each per month. The basket comprises a 50kg of cereal, 5kg of corn soya blend and 10kg of pulses. The project started in October 2012 and ends in March next year.

The team had good time with individual beneficiaries

The delegation that visited Phalombe included Sara Sanyahumbi, DFID Head Malawi Office, Jeffrey Kanyinnji Principal Secretary DODMA, Button Osman Deputy Country Director WFP Malawi and Fumukazi Munthali, Social and Development Advisor (DFID).   

Sarah Sanyahumbi was quoted in the local media (Daily Times) as saying that her organization is closely working with other agencies to ensure that people are food secure in the country.  And Jeffrey kanyinji said in the same media that his department is putting in place long term efforts to cushion vulnerable communities. He cited irrigation and planting of drought resistant crops as some of the measures.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

ADRA Malawi set to mainstream KM

By Elias Banda
ADRA Malawi is now set to mainstream knowledgemanagement systems after staffs, drawn from different projects went through a week- long Knowledge management training. The training also drew participants from other ADRA offices from Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and South Sudan.
The training took place at Ufulu Gardens in the Capital Lilongwe from 12 -16 November 2012.  The objective of the training was to equip staff how to create, share, store and utilize information in the organization.  Participants learnt that KM processes required an enabling environment in the organization for tacit knowledge to be effectively generated and shared among employees. The training was facilitated by the Malawian based HCDM consultants.
The training ended a mandate that each ADRA office develop an action plan to establish the KM systems. Speaking when closing, HCDM Lead Consultant Booker Matanvu urged participants to make use of the knowledge gained to establish KM systems and that his organization  would be available to offer support when ever need arises.
KM participants pose for photograph after the training
Lise Grauenkaer, ADRA Denmark Program Coordinator described the training as historic because it brought together several countries that implement the Action for Social Change Program. She pointed out on the need to have a follow on the training.
ADRA Malawi Country Director, Claudio Sandoval  said the training was a blessing to ADRA and that participants should utilize the knowledge acquired effectively and efficiently.  He said that people work in ADRA in order to change others and that the knowledge acquired should be used to make a difference on other people. He thanked ADRA Denmark for the support rendered for the success of the training.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The power of community voice

 By Redson Damalekani

Empowering and building the capacity of community Based Groups is the key to positive social change as demonstrated by Mwawihe-Mgumera Radio Listeners’ Club (RLC),  one of the Community Based Group in T/A Juma  in  Mulanje District.
Community members around Mgumera-Mwawihe have been facing problems to cross Nkokanguwo River  during rainy season because the bridge was washed away many years ago and  school children at Mgumera Primary School had to abandon school because they could not cross the flooded river.  Local farmers who sell their farm produce at Nkando market were also  affected as they could not take their farm produce to key market places, impacting on their economic sustainability.

The dry part of Nkokanguwo River
Community members approached the Member of Parliament for the area in 2010 who responded by sending a contractor to construct a bridge with funds from the District Assembly. The project was however suspended at the early stages of construction and reasons for suspension were not clearly known to the community, raising community anger and suspicion. 
When the Mwawihe-Mgumera Radio Listeners Club was formed and trained by ADRA Malawi, it raised the Nkokanguwo Bridge as the priority advocacy issue for the radio programming. When news did the rounds that the issues was going on Zatonse Radio Program, the contractor started working on the bridge. 
The bridge out look after advocacy campaigns
During radio programing local authorities were interviewed on the progress of the bridge and they hinted that the project would be completed soon.  
The contractor said that the project was stopped due to lack of construction materials. He said however that the materials were purchased and work was in progress.
 The Communication for Social Program has empowered the Radio listeners club in the area with skills to identify and discuss advocacy issues before producing radio programs. When interviewed people in the area expressed happiness with progress of  work on the bridge.  
The bridge connects areas between Nkando and Namphungo. The Action for Social Change Program with support from Denmark is empowering communities in the area to advocate for issues affecting them.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

LL farmers association raise funds for seeds

By Baxter Chilombo

Kan’goma  Farmers Association in Traditional Authority Tsabango in Lilongwe has raised K460, 000/ $1673 for procurement of certified seeds in order to maximise production of soy beans and groundnuts.

From time immemorial, farmers in Tsabango Area have been planting recycled seeds, resulting into declined yields.

Speaking in an interview, members of the association expressed optimism that the shift from use of recycled seeds to certified ones would bring positiv
Kan'goma Farmers Association in session
e results especially on soy beans and groundnuts.

The association comprise 23 farmer clubs which have merged to form a larger grouping that would represent farmers and negotiate for better prices with public and private actors in the food security sector.

ADRA Malawi through the Action for Social Change Program has facilitated formation of 23 farmer clubs in the targeted village communities.

ADRA Malawi also provided technical support,  leading to the formation of the association.

This year, ADRA Malawi has linked Kan’goma Farmer Association to Mfunwe Seed Company in Lilongwe which has already agreed to sell the seeds at a reduced price. This development has boasted farmers interest and confidence to grow more seeds in the 2012/2013 agricultural season.

The association plan to use to use 22.7 hectors of land for soy beans and 17.6 hectors for groundnuts.

The Action for Social Change Program is being supported by Denmark to bring about individual and society change in Lilongwe, Mzuzu/Mzimba, Machinga and Mulanje.

Friday, October 19, 2012

POOR BUT BLESSED, Peke Mafuli fights HIV with hope.

By Stanley Mpasa

Peke Mafuli is a young mother who was born 30 years ago to poor parents in the district of Phalombe, south east of Malawi. She never went far with education due to lack of support and by the time she turned 19, she became pregnant and had her first child, Mwaiwawo. As a consequence, her dream for education was shattered. 

Peke and her twins
Five years ago Peke’s health started deteriorating and she started having frequent illnesses. The ADRA Malawi  Trainer of Trainer Project (TOT) Counselor for the area, Herbert Kusamale noticed Peke’s situation and visited her several times to advise her to go to the hospital for treatment and HIV testing. After testing positive, she was put on anti retro-viral treatment (ART) and the counselor continued to visit her to monitor her progress and offer his support. The constant counseling helped Peke so much that her health improved tremendously.
In 2010 she became pregnant again and because she was able to access prevention of mother to child transmission ( PMTCT)  services, she gave birth to twins, Chisomo and Edith, who are HIV negative.
 Life continues to be a struggle for Peke due to her poverty and she needs the material and psychological support for her and the children.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Mulanje farmers formulate laws for 2012 fertilizer subsidy program

By Elias Banda

In a bid to regulate management of subsidized fertilizer program, farmers at Namphungo, Traditional Authority Juma in Mulanje district have formulated laws to govern the distribution system. Last year, between November and December fertilizer selling was marred by corruption as people involved in the system were allegedly selling the farm input at K3000 per 50 kg bag instead of the mandated K500 by the Malawi Government and as a consequence,  legible farm family beneficiaries who received the subsidy coupons could not purchase the commodity. 
It was reported that those who bought fertilizer at a higher price came from outside Traditional Authority Juma.
The development triggered discussions among REFLECT circle members in the area and they agreed to mobilize the community for a meeting to find a lasting solution on the matter. A Community meeting was organized on September 28 at Namphungo Court and it attracted participation of political leaders, farmer interest groups, government extension workers, police and chiefs.
ADRA Malawi through the Action for Social Change Program has established and is supporting seven REFLECT circles in the area.
During the meeting, the community resolved that each person would be allowed to present only two coupons at the selling point. The group agreed that each targeted village would have its own day for buying fertilizer to avoid irregularities. The meeting also elected a committee that would verify names and ensure the program is done in a fair manner.
Area Development Committee (ADC) Chairperson in Traditional Authority Juma, Tikhiwa Pazala said the established rules would bind everyone and that law breakers would be punished. He said the rules would also lessen predicaments that even forced people to sleep on the queues several days without buying fertilizer. 
A REFLECT circle in session in Mulanje
Speaking at the function Traditional Authority Juma urged those involved in the subsidy program to respect people’s decisions and abide by the laid down procedures.
According to information sourced at Kamwendo Extension Planning Area (EPA), about 10,000 farm families are earmarked for the program which starts in October. Meanwhile, six selling points have been established at Muliya, Namphungo, Khwalala, Mangwaya Chimbalanga and Sitolo. Kamwendo EPA covers 99 villages while ADRA Malawi is targeting 60 village communities.
The Action for Social Change program is being support by Denmark to bring about individual and society change in Mulanje, Lilongwe, Machinga and Mzimba.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Malnutrition drops at Kan'goma Health Centre

By Elias Banda

men and women participate during nutrition training
Cases of malnutrition among children aged below 5 have reduced at Kangoma Health Centre, East of Lilongwe City. According to Eliot Kazembe, Senior Health Surveillance Assistant at the center, the figures have dropped from175 cases last year to 60 this year, representing a 34.2 % plunge.
Kazembe attributed the drop to community adoption of food security and nutrition technologies mainstreamed by government and other stakeholders in the area.
Malnourished children at the health centre are provided with food supplements, including soy flour.   Mr Kazembe told the Action for Social Program (ASC) mid-term evaluation team in August that ADRA Malawi   ASC Program had contributed to the change. Since last year, ADRA Malawi has built capacity of community based groups on food production and utilization. Food utilization included preparation skills that would help targeted households to diversify diets on locally produced foods and reduce dependency on nsima(corn flour meal) as the main staple food.

some food displays after nutrition training
Kang’oma Health Centre is surrounded by 280 village communities and ADRA Malawi is targeting 60 villages.  The ASC Program is being supported by Denmark to bring about individual and society change.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Right to education at stake in Machinga

By Elias Banda   

Two weeks have elapsed now after schools opened on September 3, but some school going children are still confined within the walls of initiation ceremonies commonly known as Ndagala in the local language in Machinga District.  Community members in Mangamba area, where many children are still going through the ceremony,  seem not concerned about the development as the traditional counselors responsible for these ceremonies proceed with plans while ignoring the school calendar. There are rumors doing the round in the area that some children would be detained for the next three weeks.

Boys with their counselor at Ndagala
Speaking in an interview, one of the counselors Nyadani Kaunde said there over 60 children still going through initiation in 7 villages. As the tradition dictates, children stay in the initiation camps for four weeks. This period could over step the school opening days if the ceremony started much later. Apparently, culture is more important than school. ADRA Malawi facilitated a community dialogue session recently in the area to find the lasting solution on the matter. Discussions brought together chiefs, teachers, traditional counselors and parents. During discussion, it was revealed that some parents could not afford to buy new clothes for their children to wear as they graduate from the initiation camps. It is a traditional requirement that parents should provide new clothes at the end of the ceremony and any failure would mean that the child remain in the camp until clothes are bought.
It was further reveled during discussions that women especially parents to the initiates are engaged in a ceremony known as Litiwo, where woman participate by dancing to cerebrate the initiation of their children. This type of ceremony is done a few days before the children graduate but when Litiwo delays it affects the graduation, forcing children to miss classes.
When concluding discussions chiefs pledged to convene meetings and decide deterrent measures and punishment  for any parent who would delay the child to go to school.
Meanwhile, Blantyre based Primary School Education Advisor Charles Chaima has advisors chiefs and parents to put education as priority for children. Mr Chaima was speaking on Zatonse Radio Program on the same matter.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


     By Claudio Sandoval

 This is an amazing and touching story narrated firsthand by Mr. Kazigonde Mapemba, member of Mulatha Village in the District of Mulanje, where he tells how a bicycle ambulance made the difference for him between life and death.

Kazigonde Mapemba
Kazigonde narrated that in a particular day he was quite alright and went about doing his normal work around the house and in his garden.  At the end of the day after returning home, he suddenly felt sick.  He felt weak and feverish and then started opening bowels. The situation deteriorated very rapidly and he became so weak.  It was then discovered that he had contracted cholera and needed to be transported to the health clinic urgently.

Deadly distance
The normal means of transporting a patient to hospital is to make a temporary stretcher using wooden poles which takes a lot of time to construct additional to the long distance from Mulatha Village to the nearest Health Center that is about 25 kilometers of bad road. 

A blessing for thousands
Blissfully for him, Mulatha Village had recently been benefited with a bicycle ambulance, donated by ADRA Malawi, as part of the Project: Bicycle Ambulances for Rural Communities in Malawi funded by the Ayuntamiento de Elche from Spain. At present this bicycle ambulance is increasing and facilitating a prompt and timely heath access to more than 5,700 people in Mulatha Village.

No time to loose
The patient narrated that when he was being transported, he really did not know what was happening as he was almost unconscious due to the weakness.  It was when he had arrived at the hospital and received some treatment and came to his senses that he realized he was in the hospital. This shows how seriously sick he had been. Due to the kind of disease it was extremely vital for him to receive a quick and appropriate treatment. 

Relief and gratitude
-“I believe I could have died that day had it not been for the presence of the bicycle ambulance which enabled my relatives to move me quickly to the nearest health facility”-, Kazigonde said.  -“The availability of the bicycle ambulance meant that we did not waste time constructing a stretcher but quickly moved to take him to the hospital”-, one of Kazigonde’s relatives also mentioned.

-“I am very grateful to ADRA for the donation of the bicycle ambulance and ask that God could bless the organization and the donors for the timely gesture”-, Kazigonde finalized.

ADRA Malawi donates ambulance bicycles

By Elias Banda

Claudio addressing community members in Mulanje
ADRA Malawi has donated 60 bicycle ambulances to village communities in Mulanje, Mchinji and Dowa to ease transport challenges people face when ferrying patients to the health centers.  Transport challenges coupled with poor road network have caused patients including pregnant mothers to die before reaching the health centers.
In Mulanje,  ADRA  Malawi has donated 7 ambulances in Traditional Authority Chikumbu with support fromAyuntamiento de Elche from Spain. 53 ambulances have been donated to communities in Mchinji and Dowa with funds from Pamplona City Council in Spain. In Mchinji, 27 ambulances have been donated to 13 villages communities in Traditional Authority(T/A) Kapondo and Sub T/A Simphasi.

handing over the ambulance to the community in Mchinji
Women  expressing happiness after receiving ambulance
In Dowa, 13 villages would benefit from 26 ambulances donated in Traditional Authorities; Kayembe, Chakhaza and Dzoole.
Speaking in an interview, ADRA Malawi Country Director Claudio Sandoval said the donation was a response to community needs and that the ambulances would enable patients get to the health centers much faster. He expressed the importance of mutual partnership existing between ADRA Malawi and her community partners. He urged community members to use the ambulances effectively and build trust in their leaders.
In Mulanje, the ambulances are expected to benefit 5, 700 people who would now able to take patients to Mulanje District Hospital or other health centers within the reasonable time.  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Village banking improves women lives in Salima

By Francis Zande, Project Manager, Tsogolo Labwino

What started as a mere experiment in 2009 with 8 groups each composed of an average of 15 women in Salima district has turned out to be a life saver for many households in Traditional Authorities Kambwiri and Kalonga of the district. ADRA Malawi’s Australia funded Tsogolo Labwino Project is now working with more than one thousand women and men who have developed interest to increase their financial bases of their homes by engaging in group money savings and lending.
The project has currently seen an accumulated savings of more than Mk 20 million Kwacha ($75,000) from the 53 groups that are now practicing the popularly known village banking.
A lot of women are now able to start small businesses such as vegetable selling, fritter making or even grocery vending as the initiative offers them an opportunity to access loans to start up their business ventures.
“This initiative has tremendously increased the economic security of my household through the accumulation of assets such as a bicycle and a permanent house”, said  Mary Kasino of Futi village in Traditional Authority Kalonga.
A happy Mary kasino with her bicycle
ADRA has been the driving force for these groups to get established. Beginning with community awareness and sensitization to group formation and training; and training village instructor agents, many women have found a new lease of financial security from the new found banks that are right on their doorstep.
How the groups operate is not a miracle at all. Villagers from within the same community with similar characters organize themselves into groups not exceeding 20 people each. The village instructor agent starts giving them trainings such as group formation, group dynamics, constitutional development and finance management over a couple of weeks. During this period the group members start depositing an agreed upon share value in form of money into the group fund. Overtime the group members start borrowing money when they want to start a business or support their personal needs and pay back the money with an agreed upon interest of course within a given period of time.
Chisangalalo VSL Grocery

The monies are deposited for a period of 12 months during which saving and lending takes place. At the end of the agreed period the money is shared out basing on the number of shares each individual has accumulated and the interests accrued is also shared in the same ratio. The group then restarts the savings soon after shares are given out. Those who want to move out have the right to do so and others may join depending on the statutes laid down by the group.
Umodzi Women Group of T/A Kambwiri had an annual accrued share value of Mk1.3 million ($4,800) by December, 2011. When time to share out the money arrived, one woman, Rhoda Kamai, went away with a whooping Mk150,000 ($555). She has since expanded her business to an extent that she goes into other districts to source commodities such as beans which are not readily available in Salima district. She has since roofed her house with iron sheets, paid secondary school fees for her two children and is also running a small grocery.
What looked like a venture for poor women has now started to attract some government and private sector women too. The Project has been approached by school teachers, Police women and hospital workers to train them in starting up savings and loans groups.
The project has brought back smiles on women faces
There are some groups that have gone further in creating a group business. One such group is Chisangalalo which has opened a village shop and tea kiosk. They mobilized money for the construction of their shelter and payment to the builder. ADRA came in to assist with a starter pack fund of $750 for stocking the shop. Today the group has opened a business account with one of the banks in Salima and at times supports the elderly and orphans in their village as part of social responsibility. The treasurer of the group Mrs Litia Kwamdera said that “we share some profits on quarterly basis to buy some household needs; this has lessened dependency on our husbands who have at times been abusive.”

Each savings and loans group has a different money lending rate which spans between 20 to 30 percent and cases of defaulting repayment of loans have so far been less than 2 percent. This is due to the fact that these people know each other well and live within the same community.
“I have been able to buy a bicycle and a few cloth wrappers for myself. My husband takes me in high esteem now and I have at times given him some money to propel his personal business. I don’t regret joining ADRA groups in savings and loans” Litia says. “Above all, savings and loans groups have helped bond our relationships in this village because as women we share different skills and knowledge when we meet and this has helped build a better life in our homes,” she concludes.
As I leave for home from my routine monitoring visits, a song is tuned up from one of the women saying “wokana ADRA akagwere uko, safuna kutukuka” meaning those refusing or not joining ADRA initiatives should fall off because they don’t want to develop. As the sun sets in the evening, I cherish with satisfaction what I have seen and heard during my monitoring visit.
Tsogolo Labwino Project,  meaning bright future is being funded by Australia to bring about society and individual change in Salima, Central Malawi.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

ADRA Malawi staff mango’d

 By Elias Banda

ADRA Malawi staff have undergone an intensive training in financial management systems, courtesy of Management Accounting for NGOs (MANGO) an organization based in Oxford, United Kingdom. The five –day training which took place at Blantyre Adventist Guest House was aimed at building confidence and financial skills among ADRA Malawi staff so that they should operate financial management systems effectively.
The training was characterized by practical activities
The training drew 16 participants from ADRA Malawi projects and the Action for Social Change (ASC) Program. The training targeted coordinators from Tsogolo Labwino Project in Salima and  the Women Empowerment Project Manager in Mulanje.  ASC participants included district coordinators from Mulanje, Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Machinga . Other participants were the program technical officers, accountants and the Procurement Officer. 
A busy mango training session

Speaking in an interview, Jacques Lauruol,  Mango Financial Management Trainer said his organization helps non -governmental organizations particularly in Africa, Asia and other developing countries to improve their financial management systems.
The course module included the key financial management principles and concepts and the four financial building blocks such as the  financial planning, accounts records, financial monitoring and internal control systems.
Jacques presenting a certificate of attendance to Elsie Mwimba
One of the participants, Shadreck Bandawo from Tsogolo Labwino Project  said the skills acquired would go along way assisting him to budget and code items on the project chart of accounts.

Speaking on behalf of ADRA Malawi Administration, Emma Jakobo, Action for Social Change Program Manager described the training as a step ahead as staff would be able to improve their financial reporting.
At the end of the training, participants were awarded certificates of attendance.

ADRA Malawi staff mango’d

 By Elias Banda

ADRA Malawi staffs have undergone an intensive training in financial management systems, courtesy of Management Accounting for NGOs (MANGO) an organization based in Oxford, United Kingdom. The five –day training which took place at Blantyre Adventist Guest House was aimed at building confidence and financial skills among ADRA Malawi staff so that they should operate financial management systems effectively.
The training was characterized by practical activities
The training drew 16 participants from ADRA Malawi projects and the Action for Social Change (ASC) Program. The training targeted coordinators from Tsogolo Labwino Project in Salima and  the Women Empowerment Project Manager in Mulanje.  ASC participants included district coordinators from Mulanje, Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Machinga . Other participants were the program technical officers, accountants and the Procurement Officer. 
A busy mango training session

Speaking in an interview, Jacques Lauruol,  Mango Financial Management Trainer said his organization helps non -governmental organizations particularly in Africa, Asia and other developing countries to improve their financial management systems.
The course module included the key financial management principles and concepts and the four financial building blocks such as the  financial planning, accounts records, financial monitoring and internal control systems.
Jacques presenting a certificate of attendance to Elsie Mwimba
One of the participants, Shadreck Bandawo from Tsogolo Labwino Project  said the skills acquired would go along way assisting him to budget and code items on the project chart of accounts.

Speaking on behalf of ADRA Malawi Administration, Emma Jakobo, Action for Social Change Program Manager described the training as a step ahead as staffs would be able to produce credible financial reports.
At the end of the training, participants were awarded certificates of attendance.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

ADRA Malawi joins partners in the International Candlelight Memorial

By Stanley Mpasa and Judith Kumwenda

The international candlelight memorial ceremonies have been conducted in several cities and town across the country. In Blantyre the activity took place on May 22, at Kachere Trading Centre, reflecting on the year’s theme; Promoting health and dignity together.  Earlier in the day, people marched  from Makheta, North-East of Blantyre to Kachere Township and carried posters while singing  songs  remembering  those who died due to HIV/AIDS.
The Blantyre function was graced by Honourable John Bande, Member of Parliament for the area and Minister of Trade and Private Sector Development who was als
The Guest of Honor ( left) lighting a candle
o the Guest of honor. 
Two days earlier, ADRA Malawi provided the Radio platform on Zatonse program where the Organizing Committee sensitized the general public about the function.

The Guest of Honour started by visiting the various pavilions holding exhibitions of items ranging from foods that are recommended for HIV positive people to the various herbs that have medicinal values and help the PLWHAS live a better life. Also exhibited were some of the services that that the Government and the various NGOs are providing in the fight against the HIV and AIDS pandemic, like the male and female condoms,  Ant Retroviral Drugs and Voluntary Testing and Counselling (VCT) .  During the function, people were offered free testing and counselling.

The Guest of Honor inspecting pavilions
There were also poem recitals, traditional dances and drama staged by a group of HIV/ AIDS Counsellors. The songs and plays contained important messages on HIV/AIDS like the importance of being tested, the importance of changing our sexual behaviour to conform to the current times and the prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of the virus. It was interesting  to see a group  of 10 blind men and women who had covered a distance of about  12km on foot from Bangwe, East of Blantyre to have their blood tested. Religious leaders from various denominations were not left out and they offered their prayers  to inspire those affected and their families and  those who are trying to make the life if the PLWHAs bette
spreading the message throu
r through the services they provide.
At the peak of the function, speeches, dances and poems reflected on the theme, emphasising on the need for united efforts to reduce the incidences of HIV/AIDS.  The Guest of Honor stressed on the need for people to work together to promote health and dignity for all sections of the community. He said  the Malawi Government was committed to provide good health and dignity through the provision of free Ant-Retro-viral Therapy .

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

ASC Program and partners share notes on best practices

By Elias Banda

ADRA Malawi, through the Action for Social Change Program (ASC) organized a two-day meeting involving district government officers. The meetings took place in Lilongwe and Blantyre, involving district planning directors, district agriculture offices, district social welfare officers, district AIDS coordinators, district monitoring and evaluation from the ASC Program targeted districts.
The  meetings were aimed at analyzing strategies that embrace  the ASC Program thematic areas of HIV/AIDS, food security, livelihood and communication.
Emma Jakobo, ASC Program Manager addressing stakeholders
Speaking during the official opening of the meetings at both venues, Claudio Sandoval, ADRA Country Director urged participants to utilize the meetings as platforms for sharing and learning. He said that through acting together, ADRA and her partners could achieve more to the advantage of the vulnerable people in the communities.
ADRA Malawi Deputy Country Director Michael Usi echoed Claudio’s sentiments and stressed on the importance of team work. He said that in a team, whoever scores a goal  makes the whole team to win, referring to the combined efforts of ADRA and her partners.
During the course of the meetings, ASC Program technical officers made presentations on the strategies and this was followed by discussions, reflecting on the issues in the strategies.  The district officers advised how best the ASC would implement the strategies to ensure that activities are in line with government plans and they point towards achieving intended objectives .
ADRA Malawi staff and partners during the meeting
The gathering further agreed that ADRA and her partners should conduct field visits as a way encouraging joint monitoring of activities.
Speaking when closing the meeting, Lilongwe District Planning Director Peter Jimsole  said he was happy with the ASC Program and urged ADRA Malawi to include remarks made by district officials in the strategies. He said though the program has no service delivery in its implementation, it could still bank on linkages with other partners to achieve the intended goals.
ASC Program Manager Emma Jakobo thanked district officials for their time and support and assured them that ADRA Malawi would make use of their input to perfect the strategies.

The Action for Social Change Program is being supported by Denmark to bring about society and individual change in Machinga, Mulanje, Lilongwe and Mzuzu. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

VSL changes Mulanje man

   By Redson Damalekani                                                                                         

 For a long time, life had been difficult for Duncan Ntope  45, a father of four children who hails from Kamwendo village in Mulanje District. Duncan has been selling second hand clothes since July 2010 when he started the business with only K5000 initial capital (about $20).

Second hand cloth market at Kamwendo
Since then, his daily sales could hang between K1500 and K2500 ( $5.7 and $9.6) not enough to meet the daily family needs.
In November 2011, Duncan joined Chiyambi Village Saving and Loan Group facilitated by ADRA Malawi. A few months later, he borrowed K25, 000 ( about $96) from the VSL Group to boost his business.
Chiyambi VSL Group in session
Speaking in an interview, Duncan said he can now make daily sales as high as K12000 (about $46).
He said his life has changed and can now afford basic family needs, including sending his children to school. Duncan also hinted that he is dreaming big and recently, he sent one of his children to Soche Private Secondary in Blantyre, something he never imagined would happen to him.

ADRA Malawi through the Action for Social Change Program  is working with various community based groups and individuals to bring about society and individual change. The Action for Social Change Program is being supported by Denmark.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Beer drinking time changed to curb crime

 By Redson Damalekani

Prolonged beer drinking time in Muhiyo group village community in Mulanje District has provided fertile environment for rapists, forcing community members to enact laws restricting beer drinking.
 Revelers could still hang at the drinking joints for up to midnight while hatching plans to rape women and girls. A primary school teacher’s wife was recently raped on her way to draw water, a situation that triggered community discussion to find a lasting solution on the matter. The issue was reported to police who have since launched a man hunt for the rapists, who are still on the run.
Several rape attempts have been reported, increasing fear among girls and women who use routes linking several drinking places in the area.
One woman bemoaned the increase of men who could afford to drink beer the whole day in the area at the expense of household and community development. She said that some men were reflecting bad manners to the young boys who are desperately in need of role models.

a community dialogue session in progress
A community dialogue session involving community based groups (CBGs) supported by ADRA Malawi through the Action for Social Change Program were organized by community volunteers to discuss the issue and resolved that beer binges should close business at 15:00 pm, and those acting in defiance would pay a hefty fine. CBGs are now collaborating with community police forums to reduce incidences of crime.
The groups also agreed to conduct a series focus groups discussions with men to curb the issue of excessive beer drinking in the area.

The Action for Social Change Program is being supported by ADRA Denmark to bring about individual and society change in Mulanje, Machinga, Lilongwe and Mzuzu districts.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Mzimba CBG build house for an old lady

By Heatherwick Manda

Flora Chiumia 84 can now afford a smile after a local community based group built a house for her at Pondaponda Village in Traditional Authority Mtwalo in Mzimba.
Flora is one of the vulnerable women in the area trapped between old age and poverty. Her husband died a long time ago and ever since, she had nobody to care for her. Her house collapsed many years ago and she has been seeking shelter in other people’s homes until she won the favor of Tiwonelepo Women’s Group, which constructed a house for her at the tune of K15, 000 ($57.7).
Members of the Tiwonelepo Women's Group
Tiwonelepo Women’s Group started in 2008 after widows of the area came together to advocate for issues affecting them.  At the initial stage, the group composed mainly of widows but now it has incorporated people living with HIV/AIDS ( PLWHIV) ,guardians of orphans, Village Savings and Loan (VSLA)  group members.
Group Chairperson Elizabeth Mbeya said the group was formed soon after its members went through communication for social change and advocacy training done by ADRA Malawi through Lets Fight AIDS in Malawi (LEFAM) Project two years ago. Currently, the group is collaborating with the Action for Social program helping the needy in the community.

Flora in front of her new ho

A few months ago, the group raised K40, 00 ($154) and invested it in chicken rearing business.  Part of the profit was used to build Flora’s house. Members of Tiwonelepo are dreaming big; they are planning to build their own office and run a day care centre for the orphans.
For Flora, the world has now changed around her and she said owning a house of her own was a greatest gift in her life time.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

ADRA Malawi donates to Nsanje flood victims

By Elias Banda

ADRA Malawi has donated food items worth K1.5 million ($8, 982) as a response to floods that hit Nsanje District in the lower shire valley.
In January, 448 households in Nsanje were displaced and crops destroyed due to heavy floods,  making people vulnerable to starvation and water borne diseases.
The Nsanje District Commissioner (DC) Rodney Simwaka was quoted in the local press as saying that flooding originated from Shire, Nyamalikombe and Thanguzi rivers, heavily hitting Bangula and Phokela areas where 323 houses were destroyed and 125 other houses partially submerged.
He said people whose houses were damaged sought refuge in classrooms, a situation that affected the education systems as some schools risked being closed.
The DC also disclosed that 550 toilets were washed away, posing a health risk and he called for emergency health facilities to dispel chances of a possible cholera outbreak.
ADRA Malawi joined other none governmental organizations responding to the disaster by donating 3 tones of Likuni Phala (soy flour) and 10,000 kilograms of maize. The donation was done on April 15, 2012  in Traditional Authority Mlolo, one of the affected areas along the Shire East Bank.  
Speaking in an interview, ADRA Finance Director Elijah Menyere said the donation was a direct response to those affected due to flooding.

Mary’s story reveals vicious circle of poverty and HIV/AIDS

 By Stanley Mpasa
Mary Jonasi, 13 hails from Nkhonya Village in Mulanje and she heads a family of four children after her mother past away.  But before she died, Mary narrates that their situation had been catastrophic.
Soon after she was born, her father, Mr.Jonasi, abandoned them and went to the unknown destination and since then, he has never returned. Her mother got married to another man, Mr Mose. They later had a child who was named Dalitso(Blessing),  now 10 years. The blessing became a curse when Mr.Mose also left  them a few months after Dalitso’s birth. Her mother struggled for a couple of years to raise the children and sending them to school became the last option before she fail in love to another man, Mr Tomasi. The new man stayed for three years and left after the birth of another child Enifa who is now 5 years old. However,  Mr Mose returned three years later and was reunited with the family. A year later another child,  Lony  was born.

Mary further narrated that Mr Mose was a changed man on his seconding coming. He was very cruel. He took turns raping her and she became pregnant. She was forced to abort apparently for fear that relatives might launch an inquiry. Meanwhile, her mother could not do anything because she wanted to protect her marriage. “He used to beat her and abuse her whenever he was drunk and life was miserable for us all” she said. She said her mother became pregnant again but she miscarried because she was beaten several times. She went to the hospital for treatment but continued to bleed again. The matter was reported to police and he was arrested. The man was later released but never returned home. Her mother died later due to miscarriage complications. 
Mary, a brother and sisters in front of their house

 A much closer view of their house.
After the death of her mother, her uncle took care of them for a short time and after he abandoned them, Mary took the responsibility of looking after her two sisters and a brother.
Mary said that a local organization FOMO (Friends of Mulanje Orphans) sometimes gave them food items. She said did survive by collecting firewood from Mulanje Mountain which sale and feed the family. During maize harvest time, she said she did some casual labour by helping people to harvest their maize at a fee or in exchange for some of the grain.
 In 2011 Mary fell seriously ill and when she went to the hospital for treatment, while there, she,   she tested for HIV and was found to be positive. “ I am currently on  Anti retroviral Treatment ( ART) but I face so many challenges to access food to compliment with the drugs” she said. To make things even worse, their small house fell on one side last year because of the rains. A nearby community based group later built them another house but it fell too because the rainy season started before it was roofed.
In a turn of events, ADRA Malawi through the TOT Project has given Mary several counselling sessions on positive living, food items and money. TOT counsellors are visiting Mary frequently to offer psychosocial counselling. 
Kitchen utensils that they use.

Mary has also been encouraged to go back to school. She is now in std 3, Dalitso in std 2, Enifa in std 1 and Lony is attending preschool education at FOMO.
Mary is appealing for more support from individuals and organizations to help them meet their daily needs. 
The Trainer of Trainers for Counsellor Preparation in Africa (TOT) Project is implemented by ADRA Malawi with funding from ADRA Sweden. It is involved in the training of Community based Counsellors who raise the awareness of HIV/ AIDS and the related services that are available. They also encourage Community members to go HIV Testing. The Project works closely with the SDA Church.

Friday, April 20, 2012

A rare treat at staff retreat

By Elias Banda

Full of pleasure and fun, enjoyable and memorable are words describing the two –day staff retreat organized by ADRA Malawi for the Action for Social Change Program (ASC) team at the Lakeshore District of Mangochi. The adventurous program was initially planned for Christmas holiday but failed due to tight program schedules.   Program Manager Emma Jakobo said the staff expedition was organized to be a moment of refreshing, relaxing, sharing experiences and team building.
The ASC team camped at the Nkopola Sunbird Hotel, North of Mangochi town and 2kms off the Mangochi –Monkey Bay Road. The team was drawn from all program targeted districts of Mulanje, Machinga, Mzuzu, Lilongwe and those from the Head Office in Blantyre.
In between the sumptuous meals served at the hotel, the team was engaged in various merriment activities full of fun on the lake side, including beach soccer.
Some team members in front of the marked rock.

On Tuesday, the team took a 30 minutes drive to Cape Maclear to view the natural water front dotted with beautiful islands within Chembe fishing community.  On the way to Chembe the ASC team had a stop -over at a place called Mwala wa mphini in the local language meaning ‘marked stone’. This is one of the many wonders in the area as the huge stone is marked with straight and deep lines believed to have been done by the ancestors. But close range view sparked debate as to what type of equipment the ancestors might have used to come up with the marks. If it was formed by natural forces, how come the structure had patterns of marks as if somebody had arranged them
Team B heading for Thumbi Islan
that way? These were some of the questions that could not be easily answered as team members revolved around the wondrous stone.
After viewing the astounding stone, the ASC team trekked down to the lake side for a two –kilometer boat riding to Thumbi Island where team members viewed the mbuna fish.
The team leant that Lake Malawi has over 1000 fish species including the multi-colored mbuna found around the Thumbi rocks. The evening activities were spiced by team building activities that included Bible Quiz and a presentation on HIV/AIDS.
 During the same time, George Million who has joined the program as Deputy Program Manager was formerly introduced.  George has a strong background in agriculture and his coming in the ASC program would strengthen the food security and livelihood component.
The following day, a beach soccer competition ensued involving four teams. In the preliminary encounter, Machinga beat Mzuzu 1-0 in the post match penalties while Lilongwe scotched Mulanje 1-0.
Machinga emerged winner after beating Lilongwe 3-2 in the final with Elias Banda toping the score sheet by shaking the net three times after making defenders vulnerable.   The winning team and runners up were given trophies later in the evening, courtesy of Emma Jakobo.
In the afternoon, the team visited Koma Crocodile Camp and it was exciting to see crocodiles from infancy stages up to as old as 48. One lesson leant while viewing crocodiles was that just like humans, they are jealousy creatures and males could fight over the females. 

One of the scenes on the beach

The ASC team got another rare treat on Wednesday when the hotel hosted them with dinner, spiced by music and dancing. The excitement and fun reached higher grounds as members took turns invading the dancing floor with incredible styles.  But before the dancing floor was opened, trophies were awarded to the beach soccer winners and the voted most sociable and caring persons in the team. The first prize went to Chikondi Madumuse, followed by Emma Jakobo and third by Neema Kachali and Gift Mwenda.
 Nevertheless, the adventure seemed to be short lived as sadness struck on Thursday morning when it was  time to leave and somber faces manifested as team members bid farewell with tears.  The adventure brought happiness and offered an opportunity for staff members to know and strengthen each other as one family. Levison Maolera, Office Assistant based in Blantyre described it as a moment of learning and sharing and he urged management to consider organizing a similar event in future.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Machinga CBGs on a flight of hope

By Justine Kumadzulo

It is not easy in some places for people to openly discuss matters of sexuality in public due to cultural taboos which define sex issues as sacred and shameful such that those who brave the situation and talk about them, the society would brand them as being associated with prostitution.   Nevertheless, Community Based Groups (CBGs) in Machinga are on the right path to break the silence and recently, ADRA Malawi through the Action for Social Program mobilized 40 CBG representatives from Traditional Authority Kawinga in the district into HIV and AID training to promote behavior change.
The four –day training, among other objectives aimed at promoting open discussion on matters of sexuality and HIV/AIDS. The expected change of the training, facilitated by Save the Children and Ntaja Clinic was that the trained members would initiate dialogue at household and community levels and provoke them to discuss matters of sex and HIV and AIDS.
Cases of HIV and AIDS are reportedly high in the district, affecting individuals and communities through severe opportunistic infections and death of bread winners. The situation has increased the number of destitute children who are exposed to child labor, abuse and prostitution.
A role play depicting the danger of girls falling in love with elderly men
In her opening remarks HIV and AIDS Program Technical Officer Judith Kumwenda said that ADRA Malawi organized the training to ensure that the CBGs got knowledge on HIV and AIDS prevention and equip their communities with the right information.
The Program District Coordinator for Machinga, Justin Kumadzulo urged participants to take the training seriously considering that they would be expected to relay the information to other people.

fleet of hope with card characters. Participants were given pictures and asked to place them in the boat of their choice according to the character or profession of  a person. The idea is that at the end of it, each one should be in the safe boat.
 The participants were drawn from youth groups, faith groups, home based care and support groups. On the final day of the training,  one of the participants, John khanene said the skills acquired during the training would go a long way changing the face of their communities especially on matters of stigma and discrimination.

The Action for Social Change Program with support from Denmark is collaborating with community based groups and district partners to bring about change in the targeted communities in Machinga, Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Mulanje.

Friday, March 9, 2012

CYR applauds Zatonse Radio Program

By Elias Banda

Center for Youth Rehabilitation, (CYR) a Blantyre based organization has received positive response from Blantyre City Assembly to identify 115 sex workers who would be supported to undergo vocational trainings.CYR Executive Director, Marco Chipwaira said the response came after he was featured on the ADRA sponsored Zatonse Radio Program on the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC). During the program,  he appealed for support from local partners.
  CYR was formed in 2009 with the aim of rehabilitating, promoting and protecting the Malawian youths through psycho-socio, economic and spiritual programs in Blantyre, Zomba and Mulanje.
On Januray 19, 2012, CYR was featured on a live program to respond to issues raised by the general public over increased cases of prostitution in the country, involving young girls manly aged between 11 and 25. Some of the girls have since dropped from school.
The program received overwhelming responses from callers who sought more information and location of the office so that they could visit and present their grievances. Mr Chipwaira said that after the program he received numerous calls from Blantyre, Karonga, Mulanje and Lilongwe where concerned people sought advice to set up committees that would address the growing cases prostitution.  Two families from Bangula and Nancholi in Blantyre complained that their daughters were doing prostitution while at school and they sought redress from CYR.
 He said that sex workers committees have already been established in Mwanza and Muloza Boarder areas.
He also said that the identified sex workers would go for life skill training for two weeks before being allocated to various vocational schools. The sex workers would be identified in Zomba, Blantyre and Mulanje with the age range of 11 -35. He said however that some would be recommended from Mwanza by the committee that has already been established. The anticipation is high that the transformed girls and young women would turn into good citizens and positively contribute to the national development.
“we are very thankful to the management of ADRA Malawi for incorporating us on the Zatonse Radio Program and we expect good partnership with you” Chipwaira said.
The Action for Social Program with support from Denmark is collaborating with different partners to solve the socio-economic challenges facing the country.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Post titleGroundnuts, soybeans can replace tobacco –LL farmers

By Baxter Chilombo -Food Security Facilitator, Lilongwe

ADRA Malawi conducted series of meetings in Traditional Authority Tsabango in Lilongwe to find lasting solutions to challenges farmers face in the wake of low tobacco prices during the previous marketing seasons.

Tobacco is the main cash crop in the area and lower sales have left many farmers helpless, a situation that called for diversity and reduced dependency on the crop as it is now facing anti-smoking campaign in Malawi and globally. As a consequence, the future of tobacco is uncertain and farmers needed a possible replacement. 

Farmers planning activities during one of the meetings.

A tobacco farmer, Mr Phiri who has depended on the crop for over 15 years could not believe the sudden slump on the sales in the previous marketing seasons and expressed fear of increased poverty if farmers do not diversify.

ADRA Malawi through the Action for Social Change program mobilised 360 farming households to discuss alternative crops to replace tobacco.  During the discussions several crops were analysed looking into consideration all possibilities in terms of production and marketing and famers settled on groundnuts and soybeans as possible replacements.

Farmers said the climate is conducive for soybeans and groundnuts and that they have high market value.

Women participation in the discussion was encouraging
This growing season many farmers have grown these crops and ADRA Malawi is linking farmers to agri-business companies and organisations for market accessibilities.

ADRA Malawi has already facilitated formation of 18 market oriented interest groups in the area, each with 20 members to organize small scale farmers and lobby for good prices and conduct market research among other objectives.

ADRA Malawi is also building the capacity of the interest groups in development and agribusiness. The groups are also mentored and encouraged to take farming as a business.
“For decades, we have been growing for sale, marketing strategies have not been given any close attention and we ended up selling our produce at low prices. Its high time we started  thinking of producing for business and select crops that we know better have potential for market and above all we grow as a group’, advised Mr Phiri,  a member of Njobvu Interest Group.
 One of the group members concurred with Mr. Phiri, saying that producing for business can help farmers realise their dreams.
“One thing that I have noted is that venturing into agri-based business cannot be done single handed. It needs all of us to work together because there is no way we can satisfy a market with produce from a few farmers’, noted Mr. Thutambala, a member of  Chiyingira Interest Group.   
Farmer representatives from different interest groups meet on monthly rotational basis to discuss issues of their concerns. In December,  farmer representatives went to a Seed Company (Seed Co) to lobby for inputs and they succeeded securing them.

The Action for Social Change Program is being funded by Denmark.