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.