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.