Some Sisters doing it for themselves (and others)

Plans of the (proposed) orphan day care centre, outside the civic offices, well in the car park!!

Mbawemi Women’s group
Women are the one great hope for Malawi, and none more so than this group led by Mercy Timba, Beatrice and Dorothy, who cornered me one day in Sonda and said they needed our help. After serious investigation we have discovered that they are the real deal.
They have a membership of 50 women who pay 500 Mk (2 20 euro) of an annual subscription to generate a capital fund.
They are on the ground leaders in women’s and children’s human and civil rights, encouraging women to be self motivated.
They work with women on self esteem encouraging them to start little businesses: when I first met them they were holding a rally encouraging and enabling women to register to vote in the forthcoming elections.
They have a few small projects in chickens, farming and bee keeping which funds the pala (porridge) to feed the orphans and other starving youngsters in their day care centre. (To use the term centre is to allow your imagination to go wild). They also sponsor 28 students in Secondary schools.
Their bee keeping project is one we will be funding, because it’s excellent. The Commonwealth Secretariat through the Ministry for Industry and Trade sponsored a group of 30 women for 30 days training in bee keeping, with ten were chosen to be trainers. They now have 300 bee hives, sell honey in local shops, make candles, skin lotion and beeswax. As often happens, in Malawi, funding ran out and these amazing women are left alone, under trained and seriously under capitalized. Charity, our financial controller, and one serious sister!, is now looking in to their needs for our zero interest facility and I’m looking at the business model

Mbaweme Orphan day care and Nursery
In 2003 the parents and women in the Salisbury Line area of Mzuzu City approached the Chief, Mr Gondue with the intention of getting permission to set up a school for orphans, the 3 to 4 year olds. These orphans are usually living with extended family who are generally can’t feed their own and are experiencing great difficulty under the strain of so many extra dependants.
The first teacher started in 2004. They now have two excellent teachers Lontian Nkhana and Elube, supportd by parents Thelma and Fanita.
Many parents are single mothers, often young and illiterate, deserted, neglected and abused, many without a birth cert, a name, a home or a future past the next meal.
Children come to school starving and have to be fed. Pala is provided daily, if it’s available. The old, gogo, grandparent, carers get pala as well.
The school garden provides some small amount of food. The school building would be condemned as a cattle shelter anywhere else. They have large numbers and little hope of improvement.
The big problem is, as with elsewhere is leadership, community leadership. The chiefs are an excuse, holding court, meeting, in the way of any kind of progress, without any real power or influence where it matters, and are only rarely a force for good.
So back to the sisters.
They can do it with a little help in spite of all the negativity surrounding the empowerment of women.
As I said before W4Z are on it, supporting the people who are doing.!
Malawi needs Malawian role models in local communities and even though they are accused, by their own, of being bewitched or of getting money for themselves, there are people in every community who stick with the programme and bring about change. We can’t do it ourselves, but in this case, we know people who can.

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