Promoting better health, naturally: Moringa tree

The participants with their certificates after the training

The participants with their certificates after the training

In Bwetu village, in the district of Lilongwe thousands of people still live a daily struggle contending with a vast range of societal issues and needs that are each a fundamental characteristic of growing, healthy communities. The basic needs that still need to be met include: a lack of employment and income opportunities, deforestation, land degradation, malnutrition, and insufficient educational funding.

The simple act of planting drought resistant moringa trees addresses the current challenges of deforestation, soil erosion, lack of water, and land degradation as it adds nitrogen to the soil. Due to its high nutritional content, moringa trees are a vital tool towards combating malnutrition and improving general nutrition the world over. It is against this background that Wandikweza in collaboration with Tilinanu Orphanage trained 32 people from Bwetu village on cultivation and use of Moringa plants.

The participants learning how to treat the leaves

The participants learning how to treat the leaves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Soil management and land preparation are important when planting the Moringa trees. Moringas do not like heavy, clay-like soil . Clay soils become sticky when wet and very hard when dry. Moringas grow in poor soil, sandy soil, and depleted soil, but they do not like their roots getting wet. We choose an area where the soil is well drained. This helps to evacuate excess water from the soil and allows a free exchange of gasses between the atmosphere and soil particles. It is important to avoid termite-infested soils as much as possible.

The women pounding the dried leaves into powder

The women pounding the dried leaves into powder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The participants making a solar dryer

The participants making a solar dryer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The making of the solar dryer

The making of the solar dryer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Moringa powder

The Moringa powder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wandikweza trains communities in cultivation and harvesting practices that will maximize their moringa tree yields and we incentivize them by providing the agricultural materials, primarily seeds or seedlings, they need to grow moringa effectively.

During the training, we also share nutritional information to help participants and their families enjoy the remarkable benefits of the leaves from their moringa trees.

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REZ reaching the unreached – mobile clinic ease access to healthcare

A vehicle that was used during the mobile clinic

A vehicle that was used during the mobile clinic

MADISI – Malawi: By Mercy Chikhosi

A mobile clinic vehicle drives about five kilometers to Chakhaza Health Center from the United Methodist Church in Malawi (Madisi) through the dust road to pick nurses and health surveillance assistants before driving to Madisi Catholic hospital to pick more local supporting medical staff. The vehicle, with The United Methodist  Church of the Resurrection (REZ) team and staff from Chakhaza and Madisi is its way to Mzira village, Traditional Authority Chakhaza, in Dowa district. After ten minutes of drive, the car slows down to a warm welcome by a group of villagers and local leaders who anxiously kept waiting for the team to arrive.

Women and children waiting to be attended to

Women and children waiting to be attended to

Men waiting to be attended to

Men waiting to be attended to

Health centres are far apart and it takes endurance for many residents to access medical care. The situation becomes even tougher for children who rely on someone to lift them to a health facility, risking their survival in the process. In response, REZ, Ministry of Health and other partners conducts mobile clinics under outreach programs targeting underfive children, the elderly, youths and antenatal mothers. The mobile clinic played a critical role in providing high-quality, low-cost care to the vulnerable populations.

The medical team on day 1

The medical team on day 1

The medical team on day 2

The medical team on day 2

“Whoever came up with this idea of having this mobile clinic should be praised. Our children have been saved. We don’t have to go to Madisi or Chakhaza for the illness of our children. This is wonderful,” said Mayeso, with a two year old child, Misozi in her hands. Two year old Misozi, Mayeso’s grandson has been having intermittent high grade fever for 5 days and tested positive to Malaria after a Rapid Test and gets Coaterm.  This was not the case previously. Patients are forced to endure the long distance to Chakhaza Health Center just to ensure that their children have access to medication which is not always available. “We are grateful.” She added. Misozi and her grandson walked about 2 kilometres to Mzira while the mobile clinic was done on the first day.

Victor Babbage checking height of one of the children

Victor Babbage checking height of one of the children

Women weighing their babies

Women weighing their babies

consultation desks

consultation desks

Tiyanjane Banda checking vital signs

Tiyanjane Banda checking vital signs

The mobile clinic which served over 820 patients were conducted for three days (Mzira, Mtiti and Chigoma) supported by local clinicians, nurses and HSAs who speak the local language and provide patients with culturally sensitive care. The local medical professionals also understand the local referral system and helped direct patients who could not be treated at mobile clinic site to a local hospital that can provide the necessary treatment.

MaryBeth Wiggins dispensing drugs

MaryBeth Wiggins dispensing drugs

The mobile clinic included health education that all patients participated in before starting attending to patients. These educational information focused on informing patients about common health problems, important screening tests, and answering questions that concerned parents and family members were having.

Through direct interaction with community residents and medical professionals, as well as information related to mobile clinic sites, the REZ team had the opportunity to learn about Malawi healthcare system and culture through the context of service.

The team

The team

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Community health workers promoting safemotherhood in Dowa

January 23, 2015 by Mercy Chikhosi Nyirongo

Mbalame, Dowa

A health volunteer counsels Abiti Saulos and her husband on the importance of antenatal clinic and danger signs of pregnancy in first trimester

A health volunteer counsels Abiti Saulos and her husband on the importance of antenatal clinic and danger signs of pregnancy in first trimester

Abiti Saulos, 23, is pregnant with her second child. She is in her first trimester and she has been visited by a community health volunteer in Mbalame village, Traditional Authority Mkukula in Dowa district.

Abiti has a youthful face and a darkish complexion. Her hair is well kept, and she wears a green blouse. She adjusts her chitenje, a traditional Malawian cloth, that is wrapped above her protruding belly. Her chitenje extends below her knees, a symbol of respect and honor for a rural woman.

15 volunteer community health workers operate at the frontline of healthcare provision in  27 villages and their responsibilities are steadily growing. Bridging the gap between community members and Dzaleka Health Center, these community soldiers in southern Dowa  are demonstrating the very real potential for household-level care.

Mbalame community Health Workers

Mbalame community Health Workers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Armed with cards for educating, and following several intensive training sessions, Mbalame’s community health workers interact regularly with their allocated households. Often knowing their neighbors since childhood, they can easily access the intimate details of family life.  “Their reach is far greater than the formal health system could ever have,” said Mrs Sanje, the nurse In-charge of Dzaleka Health Center.

Educational card

Educational card

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The volunteers act as channels for information to the community on family planning, voluntary counselling and testing for HIV/AIDS, nutrition, malaria and monitoring bed net usage among other duties.

“We bring services directly to the community,” explained Richard Fakisoni, a community health worker. They also recommend supplementary feeding for children suffering from moderate or severe malnutrition, identified through a simple measurement of the circumference of the mid-upper arm.

“It’s a tough job – you have to be dedicated and you might be called out at any time,” said Fakisoni. But the results are deeply satisfying for the volunteers. The rapid decline in the number of home deliveries reflects their influence within the community, where they counsel expectant mothers on the importance of delivering in a clinic or hospital.

At 32 weeks, Abiti will join these other expectant women at Dzaleka Health Center maternal waiting shelter, a facility within the health center to await her labour. This facilitates emergency Obstetric care assisted by a skilled birth attendant.

Pregnant women waiting at a shelter

Pregnant women waiting at a shelter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Abiti has to bring her own mat as the facility has none and has to get prepared to sleep on the floor. According to the Sister In-Charge, during busy months, the facility can accommodate up to 50 women.

A sleeping space for one of the women

A sleeping space for one of the women

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The health center has an average of 120 deliveries per months and mothers stay in the postnatal ward for 24 hours if there are no complications after delivery.  This is to create space as the ward has only 9 beds. They also get a bed net each before discharge.

Postnatal ward

Postnatal ward

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During pregnancy, any woman can develop serious, life-threatening complications that require medical care. Because there is no reliable way to predict which women will develop these complications, it is essential that all pregnant women have access to high quality obstetric care throughout their pregnancies, but especially during and immediately after childbirth when most emergency complications arise. Therefore, the community health workers are important as they serve as counselors, helping expectant mothers in Mbalame overcome the barriers that prevent them from seeking vital healthcare.  The barriers to care include transportation, lack of awareness, fear, and healthcare costs. These community health workers are knowledgeable about local needs and sensitivities, and thus are in a position to gain their clients’ trust and to refer them to the health center to receive proper care.

The community health workers have a real impact, both in terms of disease prevention and promoting good practices. They are in close contact with the household unit, which is where many of the most important decisions regarding health are being taken. Their work is indeed vital.

 

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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,400 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 23 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Makuta community promoting girls education

Today, as I go through my camera, it reminds me of Makuta community in Traditional Authority Nsamala in Balaka district. I remember it was a Monday when we were supposed to prioritize needs of the community. I have been to this community which comprises of 17 villages for several times. As I walked through the community and observed, it was obvious to me that the community’s need is water.

The water crisis of Makuta

The water crisis of Makuta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The women explained to me that they wake up at 3am to come to this water source just to get a 20 liter bucket of water, otherwise by noon the source does not provide water. This was obvious to me as I found empty buckets  waiting to be filled. Then I said to myself, “this community needs water”.

Prioritizing the needs was done in an open manner whereby the community voted. Contrary to my thinking and to my amazement, the community prioritized girls education. “The school that we have in the community goes up to standard 5 only. For standard 6 – 8, our children walk a distance of over 12kms to another school. Our girls do not make it, as such they end up getting married while young because they have nothing to do. Here, no school for a girl child, is equal to marriage” said one woman to emphasize the need to upgrade Mchinji primary school to standard 8.

When I heard this, I remember my heart missed a beat, but this is a big project. “Since independence Mchinji primary has been like this, without standard 6 – 8, why now” I asked. “Enough is enough. We are tired. I did not go to school. I have 7 children, 5 of which are girls. I don’t want what happened to me to happen to them. We just wanted someone to influence us, now you are here” Nabanda said as she smiled and looked aside.

I could read in their eyes, voices and actions that they were fade up with the problem. Unless, a community is fade up with a problem, they will never do anything. They know their problems better than anyone else from outside the community like me, and they are the experts in solving it. “If we educate our girls, they will give us water” group village headman Makuta emphasized.

Current classrooms (Std. 2 - 5)

Current classrooms (Std. 2 – 5)

Pupils learning under a tree

Pupils learning under a tree

Pupils learning under a tree

Pupils learning under a tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I listened to them talking, I learned that whatever people’s motivations are, but obtaining meaningful community participation and having a successful, sustained initiative require community leaders respect, listen to, and learn from community members. An absence of mutual respect and co-learning can result in a loss of time, trust, resources, and, most importantly, effectiveness. Imagine, just as I was thinking of water, they were thinking of education.

The community organized itself and we started planning meetings for upgrading of Mchinji primary school. It is important to design and plan with the community and not for the community.

Community meeting

Community planning meeting

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brick ovens

Brick ovens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each village and household was given number of bricks to produce depending on number of people in the house. It amazed me how knowledgeable and organized Makuta is.

A woman molding bricks

A woman molding bricks

 

 

 

 

 

 

Window blocks

Window blocks

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two classrooms under construction

Two classrooms under construction

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last time I was in Makuta, below is how new school block looked like. Now it is finished but I did not have a chance to visit this wonderful community again. Knowing a community, its constituents, and its capabilities is vital in community development. Community solutions for community problems.

The current school block built under CHE

The current school block

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Educating girls results in healthier, better educated children and grandchildren. Fewer maternal deaths and reductions in the under 5 mortality rate, delayed marriage and better parenting skills, improved literacy skills leading to greater economic opportunities, more skills and knowledge enhancing women’s self-esteem and the well-being of families. What a great return on investment!

Pupils of Mchinji Primary School

Pupils of Mchinji Primary School

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Mercy Chikhosi Nyirongo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Saving newborn lives through neonatal resuscitation – a priority in Madisi

A baby’s inability to breathe at birth, known as birth asphyxia, is a major cause of newborn mortality in Malawi and can contribute to developmental disabilities and health problems into adulthood. Therefore, addressing maternal health ensures that all women receive the care they need to be safe and healthy throughout pregnancy and childbirth. Thus, safe motherhood encompasses social and cultural factors, as well as addresses health systems. Indicators used to measure maternal health include skilled attendance at birth. Morbidity and mortality related to birth asphyxia can be reduced if staff are knowledgeable and skilled in basic neonatal resuscitation and necessary equipment is available. It is against this back ground that The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection trained 41 midwives and 5 clinicians from Madisi Hospital on Helping Babies Breath (HBB) in July, 2014 which is a neonatal resuscitation training for resource-limited circumstances.

The training team

The training team

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Patti Lanzer demonstrating  first assessment after birth

Patti Lanzer demonstrating first assessment after birth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mercy demonstrating

Mercy demonstrating

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Midwives inflating the baby model

Midwives inflating the baby model

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr Scott Pauls with his group

Dr Scott Pauls with his group

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to Dr Kambale, the training came at the right time when the hospital had only one resuscitator.

The matron with the resuscitator that was donated to the hospital after the training.

The matron with the resuscitator that was donated to the hospital after the training.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 participants who were chosen to be Trainers to carry on the training to others

5 participants who were chosen to be Trainers to carry on the training to others

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The participants and the training team

The participants and the training team

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The team provided hands-on training to the midwives and clinicians to reduce mortality in situations where just basic training can save a life. The training focuses on effective, simplified training that can be used for every baby – wherever he or she is born.

 

By Mercy Chikhosi Nyirongo

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Nkhafi bridge: A CHE first in Madisi, Malawi

NKHAFI, MADISI, 10th MAY, 2014:

This year, Nkafi village head celebrates 52 years. He celebrates more than his birthday following a fortnight that has seen the completion of the first CHE seed project. His leadership efforts and training under CHE earlier this year enabled his village to come together and for the first time in many years build a ‘bridge’ across a 30m crossing of the river where one has traditionally span the river since before he was a boy. The bridge connects 5 sister villages that form the environs of Madisi with 10 others in the hinterland across the perennial river whose wrath is felt throughout summer although the off-peak season has little respite for the villagers.

Nkhafi Bridge

Nkhafi Bridge

Mercy with men from Nkhafi at the bridge

Mercy with men from Nkhafi at the bridge

Speaking at the completion of the project, the group village headman, Masamani, observed that the bridge is a vital link between the two communities on each side of the river. These communities live in a symbiotic co-existence and the bridge comes as a much needed infrastructure for the whole community. While Madisi business center is the hub of economic activity, the main health center in the 5km radius is across the river and it primarily serves the maternal and child welfare of the whole community. The bridge offers quick access as the established roads sometimes mean the difference especially when matters relate to pregnancy are at stake.

What makes the bridge unique is the fact that the CHE model has been widely and actively embraced by both the community and the traditional leadership. This follows a TOT that identifies 16 individuals from in and around Madisi, 4 of which are traditional leaders. These trained as community health evangelists and the bridge project is the first-fruits of the initiative. On the last day of the project, a total of 42 women and 40 men worked in a participatory framework that defied the food-for-work concept. Sadly, the food-for-work concept disenfranchised many a community and left dependency syndromes that will take long to cure. In short, they have eroded community will power in the developmental discourse, CHE represents a rebirth in this discourse. To further show that there is now a shift in the way the community views developmental work, each household supplied a 90kg polythene bag over and above their talents, skills and labour. The timber (logs) used to span the other part of the river were obtained through controlled cutting down of trees in the communal grave yard, this demonstrates the degree of unity and leadership all traits most pointed out had not been possible before CHE.

Men of Nkhafi carrying the log to the bridge

Men of Nkhafi carrying the log to the bridge

One prominent woman who spoke on behalf of the group noted that CHE instilled a sense of agency in the whole community and this is the motivation that led to the adoption of the bridge building as the first seed project. The women carried sand in buckets which the man bagged in 90 kg bag and used these to dam part of the channel before using logs to span across the remaining 3m of the river. The community demonstrated they have what it takes to harness local resources, both material and human towards achieving a common community goal.

 

Sand in buckets

Sand in buckets

A man sewing a sand bag

A man sewing a sand bag

 

Through the leadership and brainstorming led by the writer, the community now looks at their previous challenge through new developmental lenses. It was agreed that responsible people would find out what it would take to turn the small weir at this part of the river into an aquaculture project. The community welcomed the idea and run with it as they assigned roles and responsibilities towards realizing yet another seed project born out of the impediment presented by crossing the almost meter deep channel at the height of summer. One of the men said that the building of the fish pond on this particular stretch of the river would ensure that the wooden structure of the bridge that has between 2-3years will last longer if not indefinite as the construction of aquaculture ponds will redefine the environment.

Log for the bridge

Log for the bridge

Men working at the bridge

Men working at the bridge

 

The waters of Nkhafi river

The waters of Nkhafi river

 

It was an enthusiastic village head who in jubilation saw opportunity born out of the efforts of CHE as he said his life and that of his community will never be the same all thanks to CHE. Before this bridge the villagers travelled long distances to access bridges that would add more that 10km to the short distance of not more than 4km, this affected not only business and health but at times ate at the very core of Ubuntu as people helplessly stayed divided by a flooded river most summer days. Where the communities had seen challenges posed by a river not crossable, it is now part of history as the community explores economic opportunities where they have for the greater part of his lifetime seen threat!

 

Photos courtesy of TheHDi

 

By Mercy Chikhosi Nyirongo

 

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Nkhafi women initiate adult literacy under CHE banner

According to World Bank adult literacy is when the population that is above 15 years of age can understand basic numeracy and literacy.The adult literacy program is not new in the Malawi context. Due to lack of resources and poor access there are still gaps on the ground. Presently, illiteracy rates in Malawi are reportedly around as high as 25% in urban areas although this figure may admittedly be higher in the rural areas due to lack of access. While the government has attempted to close the gaps, the efforts are slow in other places and the women of Nkhafi now redefine the landscape in this area.

Identifying their need to read and write, the women of Nkhafi initiated a community owned adult literacy program. These self aware women take the CHE framework to a new level, they identified two younger women who will spearhead the basic literacy and numeracy drive. The women leadership approached the Catholic Church who agreed to offer them classroom space.

“We are going to buy our own books and pens. We will make blackboard out of charcoal. Each woman will contribute towards an incentive package for our two teachers. We are asking you (CHE) for Standard 1 and 2 text books to be used by our teachers,” said Magret Banda. Mrs Banda is keen to become literate and demonstrates that age will not inhibit her from getting the skills she considers essential towards the development of the women in Malawi.

Out of the 42 who attended the session only two could read and write. “Most of us women can not read or write. I failed in business and could not follow antenatal follow-up dates when I was pregnant because I could not read what was written on my health passport book. Enough is enough! I want to read,” added Mrs Nikolasi.

For the women of Nkhafi community Friday, the 16th May marks a new beginning with the kick-start of their adult literacy initiative. Currently,  classes will be conducted twice weekly, Mondays and Fridays from 2 – 4pm.

Mercy and the women of Nkhafi discussing on adult literacy

Mercy and the women of Nkhafi discussing on adult literacy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women of Nkhafi community

Women of Nkhafi community

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discussion on adult literacy underway

Discussion on adult literacy underway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The women believe that reading and writing are fundamental life skills that can bring change to their lives.

As the journey continues!!!

Photos courtesy of TheHDi.

By Mercy Chikhosi Nyirongo

believes reading is one of the fundamental life skills that can bring change to a child. – See more at: http://www.faceofmalawi.com/2012/10/79-of-malawis-children-illiterate/#sthash.jqN2qahu.dpuf
believes reading is one of the fundamental life skills that can bring change to a child. – See more at: http://www.faceofmalawi.com/2012/10/79-of-malawis-children-illiterate/#sthash.jqN2qahu.dpuf
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CHE and ZOE: A holistic approach to Madisi community development.

For sustainable community development to take place, there must be interaction and coordination among all of the factors and agents that intervene and act in a locality. This means a combination of efforts is required, which takes into account the interests, values, ways of thinking, experiences and skills of all agents. It is against this background that Community Health Evangelism (CHE) and ZOE orphan empowerment which are both development tools that benefit the communities and change people’s lives will be collaborating for Madisi community development in Dowa district, Malawi.

CHE and ZOE conducted a sensitization and awareness campaign to ensure widespread awareness among all stakeholders on the prevailing Madisi community challenges and on the importance of participatory and interactive intervention.

Madisi Community leaders during the awareness meeting

Madisi Community leaders during the awareness meeting

Part of the gathering during the meeting

Part of the gathering during the meeting

Part of the gathering during the meeting

Part of the gathering during the meeting

Community Health Evangelism (CHE) is the best practices model that  integrates evangelism and discipleship with community based development. It promotes ownership by making sure that people are taking responsibility for their own health and well being. CHE will provide a critical and essential link with health systems and is a powerful force for promoting healthy behaviors in the resource-constrained setting.

“We consider ourselves blessed that these two powerful programs are in our community. We are not the same. We have already seen how our children have been transformed through ZOE, now its CHE whereby everybody is involved. We can not ask for more. Thanks for coming to walk along side us on this path to development” explained group village headman Khosi.

Mercy, Rachel Kalima and Chimwemwe Mhango discussing during the meeting

Mercy, Rachel Kalima and Chimwemwe Mhango discussing during the meeting

ZOE children performing during the meeting

ZOE children performing during the meeting

The Madisi community welcomed the idea of having community development grounded on participation and both traditional leadership and people of Madisi look forward to a vibrant wholly owned and integrated approach as the program unfolds.

Mercy and part of  influential leaders of Madisi

Mercy and part of influential leaders of Madisi

The community members passing developmental  resolutions

The community members passing developmental resolutions

Select1

After the meeting, the members identified 10 members who are to attend the Trainer of Trainers 1 from 12th – 16th March, 2014.

Community members chosen for TOT1

Community members chosen for TOT1

 

HSA

One of the Health surveillance Assistants during the meeting

The coming together of the Madisi community during this landmark event marked a milestone in the meaning of developmental work and participatory community development. The traditional leadership and the people of Madisi showed their appreciation of both CHE and ZOE synergies as developmental partners and demonstrated their valued appreciation of the participatory approach that is providing an enabling environment for them as active stakeholders in the process as it increases ownership and fosters sustainability. The general and shared view was one of consensus and shared vision by the majority of the event participants, that is the youth, women, community members, traditional leadership and other agents working directly with the community who represented the government departments they work with. From this meeting it was clear the foundation was set and what now remains is the process towards the realization of the shared and mutual goal – community development for the people, with the people, by the people for the people.

By Mercy Chikhosi Nyirongo

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ZOE empowering girls to uplift communities in Madisi, Malawi.

Agricultural development has been adopted as a strategy to achieve poverty reduction, the first of the millennium development goals (MDG). Gender inequalities continue to contribute towards the decline of agriculture in most parts of Malawi. Girls should be active participants in agricultural development to enhance their own capacities and overcome their challenges. In Madisi, where society sustain rigid male supremacy, girl’s work and economic contributions tend to be viewed as nonessential. However, with an increase in female child headed households who derive their livelihood from agriculture, challenges the notion that agricultural production is a male occupation. To address these issues, ZOE orphan empowerment program in Madisi, Malawi is empowering girls to access and control over factors of agricultural production to which they are the major stakeholder.

Fanny Botomani, 16 years old at her one hectare maize garden

Fanny Botomani, 16 years old at her one hectare maize garden

Theresa Botomani, a farmer at 16 years old

Theresa Botomani, a farmer at 16 years old

 

“The boys in our working group used to intimidate me that I can not make it, that I can not farm. Today, I am happy that I have made it and my garden looks much better than the boys’. I would like to encourage my fellow girls that everything is possible. Before I joined ZOE I used to beg to eat, but that will not be the case this year. I am anticipating bumper harvest” explained Theresa Botomani.

If girls have the same access to resources as boys, they could increase farm yields.  When girls are empowered economically and socially − they become leaders and agents of change for economic growth, social progress and sustainable development.

Marita John, 17 years old, applying fertilizer to her maize garden

Marita John, 17 years old, applying fertilizer to her maize garden

 

Chisomo Tembo 13 years old , smiling as she applies fertilizer to her maize garden

Chisomo Tembo 13 years old , smiling as she applies fertilizer to her maize garden

 

Titha Mayeso, 15 years old

Titha Mayeso, 15 years old

 

“I used to farm without fertilizer, but not anymore. Through ZOE, I managed to get fertilizer, my maize is strong and green as you can see it. I will have a bumper harvest this year. I will not beg any more, myself and my siblings will now manage 3 meals a day. Thank you ZOE” Titha said.

These girls are women of tomorrow. Women are central to the development of rural areas and to national economies. Empowering girls is empowering women. When women are empowered can claim their rights, have access to leadership, opportunities and choices, economies grow, food security is enhanced and prospects are improved for current and future generations.

By Mercy Chikhosi Nyirongo

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