Friday, January 23, 2015

ADRA Malawi responds to flood disaster in Phalombe

More than 800 households have been displaced due to flooding in Phalombe, one of the affected districts in Southern Malawi. The tropical rains coupled with heavy winds have also affected more than 400 people in the district who had their roofs blown off and have since sought shelter in church and school buildings.
District officials estimate that about 170 hectares of various crops have either been washed away or submerged in the flooded water.
ADRA Malawi, with support from World Food Program is responding to the disaster by providing food items to 2000 affected people. The food items include; maize, cooking oil, soy blend and pigeon peas. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Malawi still throbbing in the flooding shock

By Elias Banda
Severe flooding has killed 200 people in Nsanje and Chikwawa, the highly affected districts in the Shire River Basin. According to the Department of Disaster Management Affairs, about 135000 people have been displaced when the tropical cyclone Bansi raged, causing heavy rains in the Southern Malawi. The hefty downpours that lasted about 3 days between January 12 and 14, forced the meandering Shire River to break its banks, causing severe flooding.
The  vast Shire Valley
In Chikwawa, 3 people died after the entire village of Mwananjovu was submerged, district officials said.  Meanwhile, 3 people are still missing in the same village. In isolated cases dead bodies have been seen floating in the river.
District officials in Chikwawa estimate that over 10,000 households are displaced and are desperately in need of shelter, food and sanitary facilities.
According to Annie Chilongozi, Principal Administrative Officer at Chikwawa District Council, the district has established 16 safety camps for flood victims. She said some of the victims were sleeping under trees while others sought refuge in church and school buildings.
Meanwhile, ADRA Malawi has already carried out an assessment exercise to ascertain the extent of the damage and the victims’ immediate needs. Claudio Sandoval, ADRA Malawi Country Director who was part of the team that visited Chikwawa, said it was important for the organization to meet partners who were already responding to the disaster and find out about other items that could be needed for the victims.
Damaged maize fields in Chikwawa
Chilongozi told the ADRA Malawi team that there was an acute shortage of tents to accommodate more victims as many people were flocking to the camps for shelter after  their houses had collapsed. She also bemoaned lack of funds for processing maize into flour for the victims.
Environmental Inspector for Chikwawa District Council, Efron Kausi said though sanitary facilities were provided to the camps, lack of transport was a major drawback for his team to monitor and supervise activities at the camps.
Meanwhile, UNICEF and the Malawi  Army have already provided tents to the victims.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A mother in a primary school uniform

By Elias Banda
It appeared somehow bizarre for a woman to put on a primary school uniform, carry her books and go to school.  As she walked to school people looked at her with inquisitive minds some even thought she was attaining early stages of insanity. When she got to school she was mobbed by pupils who wondered the possibility of a mother putting on uniform. This was the experience Mary got when she bounced back to school after a spell of about two years.
But for Mary Manin’ga 17, a mother of an 11 month old baby this was normal life and to her what was crucial was the fact that the school management at Namphungo Primary School had accepted her to be back in class. During the first days of her reintegration into school,  life was not easy because she did not have friends of her age but eventually, she manage to secure some as the days went by.
Mary, who hails from Matewere Villagein Group Village Manyumba was impregnated while she was in Standard 6. She dropped out of school to care for the pregnancy and later a child. Meanwhile, the man responsible for the pregnancy run away up on getting the news and has since been not traced.
Mary with her child in front of their house 

This was a terrible moment for Mary who had to depend on her already impoverished mother to help her raise the child. Raising fatherless children is problematic not only for Mary but to many teen mothers in this community because apart from finding food, they have to do casual labor to raise money for soap, lotions and other essentials for the children.  This could be the reason why,  despite the government call for reintegrating teen mothers into school many fail to do so because they feel it would be difficult to combine roles as  mothers and students at the same time. Others feel embarrassed to be in uniform again.  But this was a different case with Mary, who defied all odds because she said she was seeing herself as a medical doctor after completing her education.  
In October 2014, Mary joined the Tiyanjane Teen Mothers Group, established by ADRA Malawi through When Mother is a Child Project  in her community. She said since her joining, she has learnt a lot of things including child caring, HIV/AIDS issues but above everything was the encouragement and motivation she got to go back to school. Mary said her immediate objective was to complete primary school education but her long term goal was to become a medical doctor.Meanwhile, her teacher, Sylvester Maluwa said Mary was the first girl to be reintegrated in school after dropping out. He said her performance in class was improving each day but she needed more support and encouragement.
Its time to go school
According to Mary the huge challenge for her was the burden of combining the role of a mother and that of a student. She said that on a normal day, she has to divide herself for three tasks: bathing and breastfeeding the child before she goes to school, attending classes and doing casual labor after classes to raise money for her family. But to her she has a vision and she is seeing herself as doctor someday and this is the driving force behind her hard work. Asked if she can accept any marriage proposal Mary reacted angrily " I cannot do such a mistake again and  I have learn t a  hard lesson out of my focus now is to finish my education and be a doctor some day".
ADRA Malawi has established 15 teen mother groups in Traditional Authority Juma in Mulanje  District. Each group has 20 members who mobilize other teenage mothers and inspire them to go back to school. Other skills imparted include; child care, HIV/AIDS prevention and mitigation, family planning and nutrition. 
When Mother is a Child Project is being supported by Denmark to empower teen mothers and revive their hopes for a better future.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

WMC project brings hope to teen mothers

By Elias Banda
Esther Petulo stood near her house and cursed the day she was born. She wondered why she was introduced to this hopeless and horrible world where there is no love, a world where she would go to bed without food for several days and nobody seemed to care. Esther faced her demise when  her husband abandoned her with her newly born bay. The only close relative was her uncle who passed away a few months earlier. She was found HIV positive during antenatal checkups when she was pregnant. She looked at her baby and shed tears because all her hopes were shattered.
Esther sited right with club members, the project has brought smiles back on their faces
This is the plight of the 19 year Esther who hails from Sabola Village in Traditional Authority Juma in Mulanje District of Southern Malawi. Esther narrated that when her parents died 6 years earlier she was left under the care of her uncle who supported her until she reached form 2. When her uncle died, Esther’s future hanged in limbo and she became vulnerable as no one within her family network was capable of supporting her. Just like what many girls do in her community, marriage became the only option left for her survival.
Esther is harboring big dreams -to become a nurse
She got married to a young man in her village but after two years into marriage Esther was shocked to discover that her husband had several other women. It took several months for her to recover from this shock and when she inquired about her husband’s infidelity, he reacted by abandoning her and married in the other village. This was her critical moment in her life as she recalled that it was even better for her to die and escape all the life hurdles she would go through. She imagined how life would be for her to stand on her own with a fatherless child. After weighing several survival options, she put up a brave face and decided to face the challenges head on.
Esther caounselling fellow teen mother and village members
In October 2014 a glimmer of hope was cast when Esther, together with her peers joined the Teenage Mothers Group introduced by ADRA Malawi through the When Mother is a Child (WMC) project.  What motivated Esther to join the group was   the direct link between her situation and the goals and objectives of the project. She saw herself reaping more benefits from her participation in the project activities including efforts to go back to school and skills how to cope with challenges facing teenage mothers in her community. In November 2014 Esther was elected chairperson of Tikondane Teenage Mothers Group, comprising 20 members. Group members meet on weekly rotational basis to discuss issues affecting teenage mothers and find solutions.  Her group has since mobilized and reached out to 167 teenage mothers between October and December 2014, encouraging them to go back to school and helping them how to cope with challenges teenage mothers face.  She said that plans are in the pipeline to reach out to more than 500 teenage mothers between January and December 2015.. She also said there were hundreds of teenage mothers who have since been abandoned by their husbands and were going through problems to cope with life. She said her group is geared to reach out to all such girls and bring hope of a better future for them.
 Meanwhile, Esther said she would like to go back to school in form 2 and continue where she left before she got married.  She said when she completes her high school, she would go for nursing course. She said that nothing would come on her way to stop her from achieving her goal. She thanked ADRA Malawi through WMC project for this wonderful project that has revived her hopes for a better tomorrow. “Not all is lost I can now see my bright future” Esther said.  The WMC project has since established  15 teen mothers groups.