Editorial, LUCAN NEWSLETTER Nov 26, 2006
A Hand up, not a Handout for Malawi
We adopted Malawi after a visit there at Easter 2005 and now we are just back from our fifth trip. Mary is involved with two projects in the St John of God centre in Mzuzu, while I focus on water projects as Wells for Zoë (www.wellsforzoe.org) in four, remote areas, where St John of God have outreach clinics.
We have funded the projects ourselves so far and now that we have a structure in place we feel that an extra bit of funding would drive the process more quickly. We will continue to pay for ALL the expenses ourselves. This means that should you choose to help, ALL your donation goes where you decide.
Mary is working on two projects, one with the school for intellectually and physically challenged children, and the other is an after school project for street children. She is also funding fees for secondary schooling. She finds herself helping amazing mothers or older siblings who perform miracles daily. Imagine what it is like to have a disability in one of the poorest countries in the world!
My goal should be less complicated, just to provide clean drinking water to poor remote villages where women and girls locate, and carry home, a most awful cocktail, loosely called water.
Having sourced a magically simple and sustainable water pump, I felt the rest would be easy. The community would dig and build the well, and take ownership of the pump by making a substantial contribution to the cost. A Hand Up rather than a Handout! Then I discovered that poor in Malawi means having nothing at all. I had to find a new way.
When we agree to help a village now, the village chief has to donate a piece of land on which we pay the villagers to begin commercial, market driven organic farming. In return we supply the seed, tools, training and encouragement and start a programme of pumps, wells, irrigation and farming. Awaiting our first of three crops for 2007, in February next, we expect to have a village fund, after expenses, to begin a micro credit scheme, giving no interest loans to the participants.
This scheme operates only if women have an equal share in everything and in fact women are getting most of the wages and will benefit most from the credit scheme.
This is happening in areas where their first wages, from Wells for Zoe, is the first time most have handled their own money. The scheme will also help relatives to care for large numbers of orphans by providing food from the “village garden”
We have found that the smallest contribution makes a big difference to the people we work with. To make it easier you can donate online