Young girl carrying water

Break the cycle: Educate girls

If there were such a girl as the average Malawian girl then this is her.

She would have a 20% chance of going to secondary school and a 10% chance of completion.
Parents often can’t afford to pay for secondary education for all their children and if there is a choice they will send boys
If a girl goes to secondary school, only half will pass their Junior year exam and 25% their MSCE (Like Leaving Cert/ A Levels)
One in 5 will give birth by 15 and half will be married at 18.
Will live in her village, have 6 children and spend her life carrying water and firewood, as well as minding kids and doing chores, have a 20% chance of getting AIDS, have no money, electricity or sanitary facilities, have a 40% chance of being malnourished, spend her time in subsistence agriculture, with little access to medical services and die by the age of 40.

In relation to Malawi, I always look on the bright side because the women I write about here are bright, cheerful, spirited, intelligent and positive. They don’t want me to pity then or give them handouts. They would like a little help to restore their dignity, but given the slightest opportunity they can lift them selves out of this life of unnecessary drudgery and become self sufficient.

We see water as the first step and food close second in terms of beginning a process, BUT without education nothing will change and here I mean the education of girls and women. If you educate a man, that’s all you get, but if you educate a woman, she educates a family and even a village, and we have seen in our studies in Salisbury Line that the amount of change is proportional to the number of years in school.
SO we are funding education for girls. They must qualify for Government Secondary school, be poor but willing to work very hard and be determined to achieve.
Here we see the possibilities for breaking the cycle as a result of confidence, attitude to education for their children, further education for themselves and influence in their community.
We are convinced that the future of Malawi can be shaped by it’s women, educated women. They know what is needed. They can certainly do it
Education makes the difference: we have seen it.

Top: Victoria carries clean water from the pump 20 metres from the kitchen: She walks 3 km to school every day and so has a chance of qualifying for secondary school.
Below is Patricia who is 18 and married, has little formal education. Her dream was to be a nurse. But now all hope of that is long gone.

295 Euros meets the bare necessities but we help the girls with growing and cooking their own food. Kitchen, toilets and showers are outside. Most come from very poor farming backgrounds and have overcome a multitude of obstacles to get there.


Is it back to bartering

A small rant.

Just back from a trip to Clonmel, on some fascinating Celtic Tiger roads, where I met with a group of grounded Rotarians for an excellently presented, simple lunch, where everyone arrived from work at 1pm and were back by 2.
I met real, positive people who work for the betterment of our world. The whole adventure was a feel good story.
Three years ago they put on a music function in the town, with music from Micheál Ó Suileabhán and family, with the help of others and managed to raise €20,000, which they presented to us today. In the intervening period they have tried everything possible to get matching funds, but such is the amount of Aid arriving in Malawi, Rotary Mzuzu couldn’t find time or place to fit us in. All they had to do was inspect the pump factory, tick a few boxes, and Rotary International would match the amount. However I’ll stick to the positive and say, thank you Rotary Clonmel for the pump factory and now this money will now enable us to give clean drinking water to maybe 25000 people in North Western Mozambique.
I got myself in to rant mode on the drive back while Mary wondered what I was thinking about!!.
More questions than answers!!
Are we on the verge of going back to bartering goods and services, have we lost total confidence in banking , has the idea of big failed, have we lost touch with the real and put faith in derivatives, other obtuse financial instruments, (financial weapons of mass destruction), designed to be as obtuse as possible. Are accountants and bean counters, bankers and three card trick merchants, ruling and ruining our world? Are we to see the end of globalisation? When will we again get to appreciate real business people as distinct from hailing opportunistic chancers?
We have lost all our road signs: the parish priest, the teacher and the bank manager have all lost their place in society, all consigned to the same irrelevant end, but were replaced by so called, self promoted experts, journalists, TV merry go rounds and reality shows all with dubious motives and agendas. Local bank managers were moved into centralised warehouses and credit was controlled by grey, faceless men and women maybe, who obviously counted their bonuses before they were even hatched. Systems replaced real thinking and analysis, and real people got screwed.
There is now, no one to trust. People will present themselves, as economists or even political analysts (two fairly shaky sciences, in themselves, but then are they sciences?) and then they evaporate almost as soon as they appear: when they are found out to be one trick ponies. For years now these people, famous for being famous are experts on all matters, know the price of everything and the value of nothing, are filling the void between the amount of airspace available and the scarcity of bad news. Oh yes, news must be bad news.
Where will our new leaders come from? The churches will have to descend to even lower standing before there is any possibility of a real change. The political class will have to disappear and be replaced by real people of substance, on much lower wages, bankers will have to be terminated and the financial system totally overhauled.
Have the systems within our world just got too big, out of scale with real people, too big for people to understand. Is big the problem and will small have to become the new big.
Why did those who told us they knew better, that size matters, the bigger the better, greed is good, the economies of scale. If something becomes too big to fail, has it just become too big and therefore too big to regulate and control, for the benefit of the many.
How can people with these ideologies ever hope to contend with the poverty of the millions of subsistence people who live from day to day and from one meal to the next? Those who claim to help, collectively the Aid business, are full of these big people running the aid business like other big business organisations. They come from these backgrounds; have plans for big ventures, which they plan with the bean counters far away from the people they are supposed to serve, hardly serve, maybe dominate and their issues. Africa has had 50 years of big solutions at a big cost and most of which have become big white elephants.

Is it now time for small solutions everywhere? Small banks, small car companies, small, small, small. Will tiny is tremendous ever become a catchphrase or even small is beautiful. Will we ever hear of trickle up or that greed is shite ?.

Enron was big, it had Arthur Anderson, very big, counting its beans and it failed mega big.
Chrysler and GM have had a serious weight reduction and Ford and now in love with small cars!.
Lehman, WorldCom and Bank of Scotland have disappeared like the great Roman Empire, and now the sun regularly sets on much of the once magnificent British Empire.

Who knows how the future will go, but for us, heading off to Malawi for another two months will take us away from the masses of whinging, media malcontents where our spirits will be lifted by some of the most amazing and yet poorest women in the world, living from hand to mouth, who we will enable to access pure, clean drinking water for life, for 1 euro each.
Finally a thought for our young people:
There is a wonderful other world out there somewhere.
Emigration may not be as bad as it first appears.