Tuesday, November 4, 2014

ADRA, CAM raise awareness on breast cancer

By Elias Banda
ADRA Malawi and the Cancer Association of Malawi (CAM) worked in collaboration to raise awareness and advocate for improved services for those affected.  CAM declared the month of October as a breast cancer awareness month to put more emphasis on the prevention, early detection and management aspect of breast cancer.
According to Regina Njilima CAM Coordinator, breast cancer was posing a big threat among other cancers in Malawi mostly attacking women above the age of 40. She said however that men accounted for only 5% among those affected.
ADRA Malawi provided the Nzatonse Radio platform for the association to raise the awareness campaign which ran for three weeks. The first program featured one of the breast cancer survivors, Jean Pheluwa  of Chilomoni township in Blantyre who testified how she survived by seeking early detection and treatment. Though one of her breasts was removed, Jean said her cancer was completely cured.
Regina Njilima also said that the association was facing many challenges in the fight against cancer which included lack of finances to carry out outreach activities in the remote areas of the country. She said that due to lack of awareness on cancer, many patients on referral program declined to be surgically operated and some even ran away for fear of the medical services. She said however that the association put more effort to trace them and brought them back for surgery.
Njilima also said that the other challenge the association faced was that out of over 2000 cancer emerging cases annually, there were only two cancer specialists in Malawi making it difficult for them to attend to all cases adequately.  Meanwhile, the 2B Ward section of Queen Elizabeth Hospital has been set aside as a cancer make-shift clinic while waiting for the cancer clinic under construction in Lilongwe.
The Nzatonse Radio Program on the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) is sponsored by ADRA Malawi through the Action for Social Change Program.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Machinga stakeholders impressed with ADRA Malawi supported CBGs

Mamangina Madikiza-Madumuse
ADRA Malawi partners in Machinga were impressed after visiting the Action for Social Change Program (ASC) activities in the district. The partners included government department’s representatives and those from non-governmental organizations. According to Justine Kumadzulo, ASC Machinga District Manager the objective of the visit was to familiarize partners with community based groups and their activities as part of the exit strategy.
Partners visited Alinafe Support Group in Traditinal Authority Kawinga. The group was formed in 1997 and in 2012 it was registered with Network of People Living with and AIDS in Malawi (NAPHAM).   Members of this group said had undertaken different self-initiated campaigns to reduce stigma and discrimination for people living with HIV/AIDS.  Group members provided evidence of reduced cases of stigma and discrimination and that the membership had been increased. By August 2014 the group had 38 members of which 4 were males. 
Alinafe Support Group members addressing partners

Despite making gains in reducing stigma and discrimination, the groups faced challenges that included lack of self-support as it was solely relied on external support to carry out activities. It was also noted that young people were not members of the group.  Poor male patronage was also a major concern as the group was dominated by women. Efforts have been made persuade men to join the group but none has worked.
Partners also visited the Mbonechera Cotton Association, comprising 1800 farmers. One of the tasks of the association is to lobby for lucrative markets and provide a platform for farmers to negotiate with government and other agro business agents.  It was observed that some of the farmers in the association did not understand the purpose of the grouping. The leadership feared that most members expected instant results, whereby farmers thought they would have ready and lucrative markets for their produce but seemingly it was taking too long to realize this.  Partners however, observed that the association was well organized and was set  as an opportunity for progress in the area for future faming prospects.
And last to be visited was  Mangamba reflect circle which was empowered by ADRA Malawi as an advocacy champion group. This group had been engaged in many advocacy activities including the fencing of Liwonde National Park to keep elephants at bay from destroying crops and threatening people’s lives.
Mangamba REFLECT Circle addressing partners on advocacy activities undertaken
The group also conducted a campaign on sanitation at Mangamba market. Through this campaign the market is now clean and toilets have been built.
The group told district partners that Mangamba Police Unit had only two police officers not enough to meet the security demand in the area. It was also  discovered that suspects at the police unit were subjected to dehumanizing conditions and since police officers were part of the visiting team they reacted on the report and pledged to do something on the matter.
After the visit partners said in an interview that the trip was successful and full of lessons.
 “It was important for ADRA to take us to their program impact areas where we saw the strengths and weaknesses of the groups. I hope my organization and others will do likewise,” said  the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer from World Vision who declined to be named.
The Action for Social Change Program is being supported by Denmark to bring about individual and society change in Machinga, Mulanje, Lilongwe and Mzimba districts.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

ADRA Malawi shines at Blantyre Trade Fare

By Mamangina Madikiza-Madumuse
The 2014 Agriculture Trade Fare will go into history books as the first ever agriculture show case that ADRA Malawi participated. The fare which ran from 28th to 30th 2014 under the theme " Agriculture: A Basis for Achieving Inclusive Growth", was officially opened by President Peter Mutharika at Chichiri Trade fare grounds in Blantyre.
According to the Malawi Confederation of Commerce and Industry, who organized the event, about 100 exhibitors comprising buyers, producers, farmer organizations and researchers erected pavilions at the fare.
The ADRA Malawi pavilion was organized by the empowered Kawinga Cooperative from Machinga and Tagwirizana Smallholder famers Association from Mulanje. The two groups displayed a variety of agricultural products including pigeon peas, sunflower, sunflower cooking oil, ground nuts, groundnut flour and cassava flour.
ADRA Malawi pavilion at the fare

The Tigwirizane Smallholder Farmer Association emerged as an outstanding performer in the category of farmer organization after organizers were impressed with the display of pigeon peas, sunflower and sunflower cooking oil.
The ADRA Malawi empowered groups also took  advantage of the agriculture show to expose themselves to potential markets as they received numerous enquiries from buyers. The Blantyre based Universal Industries Company had an interest in Kawinga Cooperative for the supply of   ground nuts, groundnuts flour and cassava flour.  Another Blantyre based company Export Trading developed deep interest in Tigwirizane Smallholder’ s potential to supply pigeon peas.
ADRA Malawi Monitoring and Evaluation Manager Thoko Mwapasa could not hold her excitement when she said that this was a landmark achievement. “ This is no mean achievement  , I congratulate the farmer groups and the ADRA Malawi team for their coordinated effort to make this achievement ‘ said Thoko.
ADRA Malawi through the Action for Social Change Program has facilitated formation and strengthened farmer groups and associations into viable civil society actors to advocate for better livelihoods in the communities. 


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Reach out and touch for Mary

By Stanley Mpasa

Mary Chauya was born Amwalembe Village in area of chief Mkumba in |Mangochi District. She has a history of epilepsy. She developed epileptic fits after the birth of her first child and she fell in the fire on  two separate incidences and had her arms amputated. Despite her condition, Mary is looking after her old mother and her late sister’s children.
Mary at her house
A Trainer of Trainers (TOT) volunteer of Maranatha Cousnellors’ Club noticed Mary selling some fruits on the roadside and he was interested to find out more about a person who had no arms but could carry and sell fruits like any other normal person. The matter was reported to Maranatha Counsellos’ Club which responded by donating various items worthy K71, 0000 (about $190) to Mary.  The matter was further referred to the District Social Welfare Office for more assistance. The

Television interview

TOT project Manager appealed for support from the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC TV) to feature Mary on the Reach Out and Touch Program, a platform through which people with disabilities and special needs  ask for help from the general public.
MBC responded and featured Mary on the program. Maranatha volunteers further donated food items and clothes worthy K61, 000 (about $161) to Mary. During the recording, Mary narrated how  difficult it was to coped with life under such conditions.  “It is very hard,” she said, “ although the people around us feel pity and help, they, too, are poor and need to take care of their families.” She added that she is very grateful for the assistance she has received both from TOT and the community members.
After airing of the program, MBC official hinted that people are now making enquiries on Marys condition and there is a ray of hope that some may come forward and assist.
Meanwhile, the TOTs have also sourced K100, 000 (about $265) which would be used to rehabilitate Marys house.
The TOT Prooject is supported by Sweden to bring about individual and society change.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

TOT volunteers mobilize community for HIV/AIDS messages

By Stanley Mpasa
The Trainer of Trainers (TOT) project volunteers have raised the alarm on the dangers of bad customs that facilitate the transmission of the HIV virus in the community through an open day function at Mbiza in Mulanje District.  The function took place on Sunday, August 17 and was spiced by drama, dances, poem recital, testimonies and speeches, all depicting the realities of HIV/AIDS and emphasizing on the importance of HIV testing.
Though the function collided with the chief’s coronation ceremony a few kilometers from the venue, over 800 people had attended.

Peterson Kamanga and other invited guests at the function
The function revealed several gaps in the fight against HIV/AIDS and they included low community compliance to the preventive messages, poor accessibility to condoms and harmful customs, among others. 
Common among harmful customs were the initiation ceremonies where boys and girls were taught sex theories and later encouraged them to put them into practice. Apart from the spread of HIV, the initiation ceremonies have also increased early pregnancies, early marriages and school drop outs especially among girls.
Mbiza support group members singing during the function
Speaking at the function South Malawi Field Health and Music Director Peterson Kamanga who was also Guest of Honor cautioned the young against engaging in risky behaviors that would encourage the spread of HIV/AIDS.   Mbiza Health Center Medical Officer, Mr Pindani commanded the work done by TOT volunteers. He disclosed that 30% of the 15000 people that have undergone HIV tests from the beginning of 2014 at the health center were referred by the TOT volunteers. Mr Pindani however bemoaned the low turn up by men for HIV tests.
A member of Mbiza Support Group Eneles Eliya testified how she lived positively with the HIV virus since 2001. She encouraged people to go for testing. Speaking earlier, Village Head Muhiya thanked the organizers for choosing his village as venue for the function and urged his subjects to take the messages seriously.
Other invited guests at the function included chiefs, pastors, teachers and medical staff.
The TOT Project is being supported by Sweden to bring about society and individual behavioral change on issues of HIV/AIDS.


Friday, August 22, 2014

First FBS students graduate in Machinga

Elias Banda
Eighteen Famer Business School (FBS) students have graduated in Machinga with mandate to take farming business to greater heights. The graduation ceremony which was spiced by dances, songs, drama and speeches took place at Nanyumbu Extension Planning Area (EPA) offices.
ADRA Malawi collaborated with the Ministry of Agriculture to build the capacity of 16 women and 2 men into agri-business activities. Before certificates were awarded, the graduating students erected pavilions, where they demonstrated the acquired skills in market research, gross margin analysis and business planning. Through market research, the graduates would now be able to analyze different cash crops and find suitable markets while the gross margin analysis would help them compare enterprises to find profitable markets. This also included an element of value addition to the crops produced. Business planning would help them access loans from the lending institutions because it was the vital part of the lending requirements.
The function was attended by chiefs, agriculture extension workers and ADRA Malawi staff.
Speaking earlier after certificate presentation, Action for Social Change (ASC) Program Manager Emma Jakobo  said that FBS was a new concept in ADRA Malawi and it was one of the strategies to reduce poverty in the rural communities. She urged the graduates to put the skills acquired to meaningful use.
One of the graduates receiving her certificate from the DPM as Emma Jakobo looks on
Speaking during the function, Traditional Authority Kawinga thanked ADRA Malawi for empowering the community with the skills in agri-business and assured the gathering that the knowledge invested would improve the quality of life in the area.
Machinga Agriculture Development Division (ADD) Deputy program Manager Benard Banda who was also Guest of Honor at the function thanked ADRA Malawi for the tireless efforts to improve the lives of people in Traditional Authority Kawinga’s area. He said ADRA Malawi had planted a seed whose fruits would be enjoyed by many people. He urged farmers in the area to take faming as a business.
The Action for Social program is being supported by Denmark to bring about individual and society change.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Chinomba community formulates laws ahead of initiation camps.

By Elias Banda
Initiation camps for boys and girls begin the first week of August every year in Mulanje but this year, the Chinomba Village Community would like to treat the ceremony differently by formulating laws restricting the entry age and the curriculum.
The decision to restrict initiation operations  commonly known as thezo in local language came into effect after the community discovered that the number of girls dropping out of school for early marriages was on the increase.  The irony of the matter is that girls and boys aged between 7 and 9 are now considered legible for the ceremony and while at the initiation camps, they are taught sex theories and family matters contrally to their age.
Though the camps are separate for boys and girls, they run on the same period of about 14 days and when they graduate they are instructed to practice what they learnt at the camp by sexually cleansing their bodies. If they don’t sexually cleans, they would not get married in future or their bodies would have unexplained fatalities according to Vax Mwaukila, one of the community members at Chinomba. It is on the basis of  this belief that girls are forced to practice sex after graduating from the ceremonies in order to keep the bad spirits at bay. Enelesi Manganisha of Chinomba village said the sex theories and practices have a huge bearing on child education because girls prefer sex to education and they eventually drop from school to go for early marriage.
School going children who did not undergo initiation ceremony procedure are being marginalized and segregated by peers and they react by either abandoning school or going for an early entry into entry at the initiation camp. The impression is that those who went through initiation are considered the best people in the world.
After graduation, there is a special ceremony for girls known as Chitseko (dancing on the flat door). Here, girls dance while being half naked with beads around their waist and neck in full view of the community members. During this ceremony, girls display their sexy dancing skills and they send a message to the world that they are now have all capabilities to be wives. Enelesi Manganisha argues that the practice attracts a wrong sort of attention because it creates an opportunity for men and boys to choose sexual partners. She further argues that making some one dance while being half naked without his consent is a direct attack to her dignity.
It was against this background that a ADRA Malawi facilitated a community dialogue session were people advocated for change of the approach on the initiation ceremony. During the discussions, community members outlined the consequences the culture is bringing in the community including the escalation of HIV/AIDS cases, unwanted pregnancies and birth complications among others.  The agreed age is 13 and above and that sex matters should be removed from the curriculum and those found defying this law would pay a goat and K5000 (about $125).  

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Mwanza woman finds gold in VS&L initiative

By Grey Sagawa and Kingsley Namizinga

Catherine Makungwa, 29 and mother of 4 boys hails from Sudala Village, Traditional Authority Kanduku in Mwanza District. In 2012, Catherine was divorced and life for her became unbearable as it was difficult to cope with responsibilities that go with a single parent. She struggled to find food and sending children to school. All hopes were shattered and in desperate situations, she spent most of her time doing ganyu (casual labor) in other people’s fields. Ganyu sapped all her energy that could have been used in her own field, thereby creating a vicious circle of food insecurity in her household. It never rained on Catherine but poured on her when she only could afford one meal in a day and eventually, her children started showing signs of malnutrition. Meanwhile, the grass-thatched house she lived in was dilapidated and was on a verge of collapsing.

 But in a dramatic turn of events as though she was dreaming, Catherine breathed a sigh of relief when in October 2012 she got the news that the Village Savings and Loan program (VSL) was introduced by ADRA Malawi through the DFID supported Enhanced Community Resilience Program (ECRP). At first, Catherine felt that she was not the right candidate because she was too poor to meet the requirements of the VSL initiative. But she gathered courage and joined the group called Tiyese (let’s try). The name depicts the doubts the members of the group had, whether their lives would improve after joining the group.

Upon joining VSL, she was happy to discover that her needs were met. She was happy when for the first time in her life, she got her first loan of K10, 000 (about $25) and she used the loan to set up a business selling doughnuts and bananas. A few months later, her life started changing and the more she repaid the loan the higher were her dreams for her household. At the first sharing out, she bought 24 iron sheets for her new house. Apart from the improved livelihood, Catherine’s self esteem has also been raised because she is now economically independent.

And Catherine could not hide her excitement when she said, “ I would like to thank ADRA Malawi for introducing VSL in our village. The most marginalized members of our village have now changed for the better and VSL is indeed the weapon for defeating poverty”

 The ECRP project is being supported by DFID, Irish aid and the Royal Norwegian Embassy to reach out to 4000 households with climate change mitigation initiatives in Mwanza District.

Friday, April 25, 2014

ADRA Malawi, partners, release research findings on FISP

By Elias Banda
A research report on small holder farmers’ perception on the ongoing Farm Input Subsidy Program (FISP) has been unveiled in Blantyre, sparking debate on whether it was necessary for the Malawi Government to continue with the program or not . The function, which took place at Ryalls Hotel,  was attended by  researchers, politicians, agriculture experts, lecturers and journalists.  The purpose of the function was to report farmer’s perception on subsidized fertilizer program and its impact.
Speaking during opening remarks Michael Usi, ADRA Malawi Country Director said the issue of FISP emanated from community dialogue sessions in the ADRA Malawi’s Action for Social Change Program (ASC) impact areas and it further prompted for more research into the matter.  For this reason, ADRA Malawi entered into partnership with the Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET)  and Centre for Agriculture Research Development (CARD) of the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) and commissioned them to conduct a study of FISP between August and September 2013.

Michael Usi Speaking during the function
Participants listening to presentations and speeches

Presenting the findings of the study, Dr Donald Makoka from LUANAR said data for the study was collected from both FISP beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries and key informants in 6 districts of Malawi of which four ; Mulanje, Mzimba, Lilongwe and Machinga were ASC impact districts and the other two were Chikwawa and Mchinji.  On community perception  of graduation of FISP 47% of  the total sample size of 898 indicated that   FISP should graduate while 53 % said FISP should not have a graduation component.  On the future perception of FISP, Dr Makoka said that over 50% of the sampled FISP beneficiaries in 5 districts apart from Chikwawa, indicated that the program should phase out and the price of fertilizer be reduced. He said the average fertilizer price beneficiaries wanted to be reduced would be at K5000 (about $12.5)/50kg bag.
Nevertheless, the study found that 67% of the non-poor beneficiaries, 70% of the poor and 63% of the ultra-poor beneficiaries, all reported that the 2012/13 FISP had reduced their household food insecurity. The study also found that the majority of the sampled FISP beneficiaries still do not have harvest enough to last them the whole year. However, the FISP improved the beneficiaries’ ability to have food for about 2.6 months, from 4.5 months to 7.1 months in a year. 
Dr Makoka also pointed out that the FISP program has a negative bearing on the relationships in the community. He said that 87.3% of the sampled households reported that community relationships have worsened due to FISP and the proportion was highest in Lilongwe. He said traditional leaders complained that   the majority of non-beneficiaries refused to participate in community development because they were not part of the FISP program.
Dr Lipita speaking on behalf of government at the function

Currently, the FISP Program is targeting 1.5 million farm families and a researcher Hanfrey Mdyetseni From CISANET said during his presentation that the Malawi Government spent a staggering K60 Billion (about $150, 000,000) in the 2013/2014 agriculture season and the figure represents  10% of the total national budget. 
Mr Mdyetseni bemoaned the unavailability of audited report on the FISP expenditure and failure by implementers of the program to provide data on how the program has been implemented are some of the issues the general public was skeptical about.
Speaking on behalf the Malawi Government Dr  Lipita, Director of Extension Services in the Ministry of Agriculture commended ADRA Malawi and partners for the research activity. He said the research findings were thought provoking and that government would look at both sides of the debate and analyze it further to come up with a conclusion. He also said that he took note of the challenges in the implementation of FISP Program.   
The Action for social change program is being supported by Denmark to bring about individual and society change in Malawi.



Monday, March 31, 2014

Community passes law to reduce illiteracy

By Elias Banda
In a bid to increase literacy levels community members at Group Village Mdondwe in Lilongwe have passed a law enforcing men and women to attend adult classes. During a village meeting community members agreed that those who would not register and attend classes would pay a fine of K3000 (about $6). The unanimous decision was arrived at upon getting the news that all 22 people who sat for October 2013 examinations in the village adult class failed to reach the passing mark.  
Speaking in an interview Village Head Mdondwe said the results were unacceptable given the high levels of illiteracy in his village where many people could not read and write. He said it was difficult for his subjects to participate in community development activities when they could not read and write. During the interview the village head was visibly shocked by the results his village got and expressed concern that his village would lag behind in development if illiteracy was sustained. He therefore gave a stern warning that he would deal with failures. The chief however said he was optimistic that things would improve with the imposition of a fine because people would now be serious.
 Last year ADRA Malawi, through the Action for Social Change Program facilitated establishment of an adult class in the area for people to learn how to read, write and count. Meanwhile, classes have resumed in the village and an impromptu visit to area showed an overwhelming class attendance.
The Action for Social Change Program is being supported by Denmark to bring about individual and society change in Tradional Authority Tsabango in Lilongwe.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Eliza Mdezo dies

Grief engulfed ADRA Malawi staff on Friday after the death of Elizabeth Mdezo.  Eliza died in the early hours of Friday, March 7 at Mwaiwathu Hospital in Blantyre after a long battle with cancer.
When the news broke, the state of shock was overwhelming among staff and Dyson Mbengo, ADRA Malawi Human Resource Officer described the passing on of Eliza as huge loss for ADRA Malawi.
Eliza was until her death ADRA Malawi Chief Accountant and at some point served as Acting Finance Director. She is survived by two children, Stanley and Emma. According to family members, Eliza would be buried in Nkhatabay, her home area on Monday, March 10.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Community amends initiation policy to control early pregnancies in Mulanje

By Elias Banda
The  initiation policy has been revisited in Traditional Authority Chikumbu in Mulanje to bring under control cases of early pregnancies while fostering the promotion of delayed sex debut among younger girls.
Prior to the review process girls and boys aged between 9 and 10 years were legible for initiation and were exposed to sex and family matters, a situation widely condemned by the community because such issues were morally against their age.  And when they graduated, they were expected to put what they learn t into practice, a  situation that led to increased early pregnancies and marriage. Early sex debut   also had a bearing on school dropout among girls as they highly preferred marriage to school. 

mothers are now encouraging and supporting the girl child to go to school
Hot issue: community members debating the initiation ceremony policy review.
ADRA Malawi through the Enhanced Livelihood Gender Empowerment Project (ELGE) launched a sensitization campaign by engaging community leaders and traditional counselors known as Anankungwi in the local language, emphasizing on the effects of   the custom. A series of community dialogue sessions were conducted to analyze the impact of the cultural practice and how it would affect the society at large.
Group Village Headman Chitambi said things were now changing and it was imperative that some of the traditional practices especially those that impinged human freedoms were removed from the society.
The current policy adopted by chiefs enforces that those legible for initiation ceremony should be 13 years and above and that matters of sex and family should be removed. The new policy also highlights that religious organizations should be engaged to provide spiritual and moral support to the girls and boys while they undergo initiation ceremony. 
Speaking in an interview, ELGE Project Manager Andiyesa Mhango said since the amendment of the policy, there is an observed shift from reliance on traditional counselors as sole girl instructors to mothers taking more responsibility of instructing their daughters.     Andiyesa said that the increased women enrollment in the adult literacy program is encouraging more parental support in the girl child education. She said that her project is monitoring the situation though there are positive indications that the targeted communities are now placing more value on education than culture.
The ELGE Project is being supported by Sweden to bring about individual and society positive change in Mulanje. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

TOTs cheer the sick at Mangochi Hospital

By Stanley Mpasa & Elias Banda
A group of Trainer of Trainers known as Maranatha TOTs cheered the sick and donated assorted food items worthy K60,000  (about $133) at Mangochi District Hospital. The function took place on New Year’s Eve, which fell on December 31.
According to Maranatha Group Leader Benson Kabenthu, the decision to donate was arrived at after reports that the district hospital, the biggest referral hospital in the district had ran out food and it was difficult for many patients to respond to treatment without food. Kabenthu said the money was raised from income generating activities through the group’s Village Savings and Loan (VSL) initiative which ADRA Malawi through the TOT Project facilitated.
Maranatha members after making the donation

After assessing the situation at the hospital, the group discovered that the TB ward was highly hit by the situation and patients spent days without food. The donated items included sugar, rice, milk and salt, benefiting 38 patients.
Receiving the donation on behalf of the patients a Ward Attendant who opted for anonymity said the donation was timely and thanked Maranatha for the donation. She appealed for more support and challenged other organizations to emulate the example that Maranatha set.
Group members cheering the sick
Speaking in an interview, TOT Project Manager Stanley Mpasa said it was encouraging seeing TOT groups growing economically and that they where even sensitive to the needs of the society. 
The TOTs are building the capacity of volunteers who are involved in counseling and provision psychosocial support to those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.
Currently, ADRA Malawi is supporting 29 TOT groups doted in 9 districts of Malawi, 8 in the South and 1 in the Central Region.

The TOT Project is being supported by Sweden to improve the quality of those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Mulanje District Council approves K3.7m for Chinomba School Block

 By Andiyesa Mhango & Elias Banda

Mulanje District Council has approved about K3.8 million (about $8200) of Local Development Fund (LDF) for the construction of a school block and two teachers’ houses at Chinomba Village Community in Mulanje. Community leaders at Chinomba submitted a proposal in 2013 to the district council outlining challenges faced by children due to long distance to school. The vicinity of Chinomba community is 20 villages big and has over 800 children who walk 7 kilometers to get to the nearest school. The situation gets out of control during rainy season when rivers are flooded.
The foundation stage of the school block

ADRA Malawi through the Enhanced Livelihood through Gender Empowerment Project (ELGE) responded by building the capacity of village development committee leaders in proposal writing. After the training, participants quickly developed a proposal putting together pieces of a resolution agreed at the community forum where the need to have a school block was tabled and debated.

When the proposal was submitted mid 2013, the village development committees and the community mobilized 70 000 bricks and 25 tones of river sand for the project. And when the funds were disbursed in December 2013, the construction immediately took off. A community member who declined to be named said the school was expected to enroll between 120 and 150 children when completed.
Raising the school superstructure

And a school management committee member Mary Majiya who could not hold her excitement  said it was a frightening experience   sending children especially very young ones to a school about 7 kilometers away. She said it was more frightening during the rainy season when it was difficult to cross the rivers. 

Village development leaders supporting the project

Speaking in an interview, ELGE Project Manager Andiyesa Mhango said it was the first time for this community to initiate a project, submit a proposal and get funded. She said the development was a land mark activity for the community and it would encourage them to initiate more developmental programs in future. 

The ELGE project is supported by Sweden to bring about individual and society change in Mulanje District.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Mzuzu Police gets capacity building boost on HIV&AIDS

By Judith Kumwenda
90 police officers from Mzuzu Police Station have under gone training in HIV and AIDS in relation to security and safety. The rationale for the training was to ensure that the Police officers had the accurate knowledge and skills on HIV & AIDS. The knowledge acquired included basic information on HIV & AIDS, its transmission, prevention, mitigation and other HIV and AIDS related issues handled and encountered in the police Officers line of duty.
Mzuzu Police earlier submitted a proposal to ADRA Malawi seeking capacity building on matters of HIV & AIDS via the Victim Support Unit. ADRA Malawi through the Action for Social Change Program (ASC) responded by funding the training sessions which involved 90 police officers. The trained police officers are expected to share the knowledge acquired with the rest of the officers at the station. Mzuzu Police Station has 267 officers.
After the training, one of the participants Violet Kabondo, who is also Child Protection Desk Officer at Mzuzu Police Station,   narrated how she found herself exposed to HIV and quickly sought Post Exposure Prophylaxis treatment within the recommended 72 hours as learnt from the training. She thanked ADRA Malawi for the gesture and said that the training she acquired would go a long way preventing HIV and guaranteeing peace of mind.
Violet Kabondo-Child protection Desk Officer holding  a bottle of her Post Exposure Prophylaxis(PEP) treatment.
Speaking in an interview Mzuzu Police AIDS Coordinator SR Chalemera disclosed that the other outcome of the training was that the number of police officers who have disclosed their HIV status has increased from 11 to 20. In separate interview, Mzuzu Police Victim Support unit SR Flora Njawiti said that the training has given her enough strength to reach out to couples on importance of Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT). 
The vicinity of Mzuzu Police Station lies on Vipya Plateau surrounded by lowly hills, such as Choma, Mombwe, Kaningina, enyezini, Luhomero and Chiungu and It has seven police Units. The population size of the area is 273, 447. The core duties of Police officers in Mzuzu includes safeguarding the freedoms and rights of all people, maintaining law and order, protecting life and property, preventing crime, investigating and detecting crime and bringing all offenders to justice. However, gender based violence, especially sexually related ones are among the reported crimes on the increase, exposing the victims to the risk of contracting HIV.
The ASC program has also supported similar activities to Police Stations in all the program targeted districts.
The Action for Social Change Program is being supported by Denmark to bring about individual and societal change in Mzuzu, Lilongwe, Machinga and Mulanje.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

FBS casts ray of hope in Lilongwe

By George Kamanga
A new chapter of prosperity has been opened at Traditional Authority Tsabango in Lilongwe as farmers adopt new agribusiness skills acquired from the farmer business school (FBS) at Kan’goma. The school provides a wide range of skills and innovations that give farmers an upper hand to produce and market their farm produce. The skills include production, packaging and displaying of products to attract buyers. The school also places higher emphasis on farming as a business.
Benesi Chikutu who hails from Dzuwa Village in the area is one of the beneficiaries of the school and he walked tall after investing K43, 000 ( about $956) on cabbages and tomatoes through irrigation and he raised K223, 000 (about $4956). Mr Chikutu said in an interview that he had never had such a huge amount in profits ever since he started trading at Chiuzira Market.
 ADRA Malawi through the Action for Social Program launched the farmer business school in July 2013 and built the capacity 25 farmers,  of which 5 of them were women.
A proud Chikutu captured at his farm
From the money raised Mr Chikutu said he bought enough maize to take him through to the other harvesting season and had already paid school fees and farm inputs.
The Action for Social Change Program is being funded by Denmark to bring about individual and society change in Lilongwe, Mzimba, Machinga and Mulanje.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

ADRA Malawi to have wellness policy

By Elias Banda
ADRA Malawi is now set to have the wellness policy after a three- day staff workshop in Blantyre where participants received training on how to mainstream the activities that would guarantee safety of employees at the workplace. The policy is premised on the popular idea that development of any institution depended on the physical and emotional wellbeing of its employees.
Claudio Sandoval addressing participants
 Participants during the workshop

 The wellness policy replaces the HIV/AIDS policy which was already in draft form. The wellness policy would be more encompassing because it covered all other diseases apart from HIV and AIDS that might affect staff ability to positively contribute to the development of the organization.
Speaking during the official opening of the workshop on December 17, 2013, ADRA Malawi Country Director, Claudio Sandoval urged participants to come up with a sound policy that would create an enabling working environment for those physically and emotionally challenged and those affected and infected with HIV/AIDS. He said that the reality of HIV/AIDS was glaring in the society and that everybody was affected in many different ways.
The  workshop drew participants from all ADRA Malawi projects and the policy was expected to launched at least by June 2014.