Posted on April 20, 2018
Comments Off on Working through our partners in Africa
… Serving at the grassroots
Malawi is a beautiful country and home to a friendly and vibrant people, but it is also one of the poorest nations with among the highest rates of AIDS orphans in Africa.
In 2007, ACT started working in partnership with Good News Bible Church (GNBC), a grassroots community-based church situated in rural Phalombe district, in South East Malawi. The partnership has proven to be integral to the Nyezelera community of 68,000 people who have been particularly hard-hit by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, leaving many children in the community without one or both parents.
GNBC contacted us back in 2006 seeking partnership with ACT to provide education and welfare support for the many disadvantaged children and orphans facing poverty in their community. The situation met our criteria of need and presented an opportunity for ACT to implement projects in Malawi within our core programmes of education; empowering girls and women, and enriching the community.
Our work began with educating disadvantaged children and orphans through child sponsorship which funds school fees, school uniforms, shoes, daily meal, health support and other material needs. GNBC identifies the children most in need of support and then monitors their school attendance and progress, including making regular visits to their home to check on their welfare.
Our in-country Project Officer, Richard Muluzi, works with three other volunteer care team members to ensure that the sponsored children are getting the best that ACT is able to offer. Richard is encouraged that the partnership with ACT has enabled countless numbers of poor children and orphans in Nyezelera community to receive an education which would enable them fulfil their potential.
One of the beneficiaries is Samson Matthews, who ACT supported from primary school in 2009. He has since obtained a BSc degree in Environmental Science and Public Health and is working with a government agency. Samson had struggled through life as an orphan, cared for by an aunt who also was struggling with the upkeep of her own children and so could not pay his school fees. His life was transformed by the generosity of a UK child sponsor, who funded his education up to completion of his degree at university.
“Our children have a brighter future and a new lease of life because of the partnership with ACT.” [Egly Jezman, GNBC Care worker]
A significant challenge across Malawi is the very high drop-out rate of girls from education. Nearly half of girls are either married or having children by the time they are 18 years old. This is influenced among others by the low value given to girl’s education, including by mothers. Other reasons include cultural myths, unconducive environment at schools where sanitation is poor or sometimes non-existent and lack of menstrual health education for girls both at home and at school.
To tackle this challenge we have set up the ‘Ulemu Project’ (ulemu means ‘dignity’ in the Chichewa language). It is designed to encourage girls to remain in school until completion of their education. The project includes counselling the girls about menstrual hygiene and providing them with re-useable sanitary pads. The project also trains mothers to sew reusable sanitary pads and panties to give to their daughters and also to sell and generate income.
Two pilot projects were carried out in 2015-16 and benefitted 200 girls and just over 200 women. The project is being rolled out to other villages in Phalombe and Mulanje districts, targetting about two thousand five hundred (2500) girls and women.
Working at the grassroots in partnership with GNBC has enabled ACT to contribute successfully to the fight against poverty in communities in southern Malawi. We are transforming the lives of disadvantaged children and orphans through education and empowering needy widows to generate income in a sustainable way so that they can have the means to look after their families.
We are only able to do this through the generosity of child sponsors and donors who give regularly to our work.
If you would like to find out more about our work in Africa click here!
To sponsor a child or make a donation click here