Friday, 14 December 2012

Empower Women = Help Children. Donate please


Thinking of doing a good deed? 

You can donate starting from just £1 (1Euro)!
You don't need to have a paypal account and it takes just a minute

Rural Women's Economic Empowerment Can Help Reduce the Number of Underweight Children. A large body of research indicates that putting more income in the hands of women translates into improved child nutrition, health and education.
Women Play an Crucial Role, But Face Persistent Structural Constraints.

I would like to fundraise money for the Micro Loans Program for Women. I started this project last year working together with Tikondwe Youth Organisation, after I fundraised money in the UK and Spain. It is doing really well but we don't have much funds. This means that many women  are waiting to have the chance to get a loan (starting just from £20) to setup a small business to support their families.

Overall status of women in Malawi and Africa
African women are guardians of their children's welfare and have explicit responsibility to provide for them materially. They are the household managers, providing food, nutrition, water, health, education, and family planning to an extent greater than elsewhere in the developing world.

African women face a variety of legal, economic and social constraints. Indeed some laws still treat them as minors. In Zaire, for instance, a woman must have her husband's consent to open a bank account. Women are known to grow 80 per cent of food produced in Africa, and yet few are allowed to own the land they work. It is often more difficult for women to gain access to information and technology, resources and credit.

Women end up working twice as long as men, 15 to 18 hours a day, but often earn only one tenth as much. With such workloads, women often age prematurely.

Rural women and girls face persistent structural constraints that prevent them from fully enjoying their human rights and hamper their efforts to improve their lives as well as those of others around them.

Help me supporting the 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDG) by helping rural women in Malawi.

The MDG were officially established following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000. All 193 United Nations member states and at least 23 international organizations have agreed to achieve these goals by the year 2015. The goals are:

1 Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2 Achieve universal primary education
3Promote gender equality and empower women
4Reduce child mortality
5Improve maternal health
6 Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
7 Ensure environmental sustainability
8 Develop a global partnership for development

Working together. With my dear Matrida, 4 years old.


Love & Solidarity with Malawi


Friday, 23 November 2012

Malawi projects update

First of all I would like to apologise for taking me so long to update the blog, but I am coming back with very good news! :)

As you may know if you have read the previous post Totemic Ltd., the company I work for, is fully funding the construction of a new orphanage in Domasi and the construction of a maize mill and I am extremely blessed to be working in the project!. The building process began in May 2012 and six months on we are seeing an astonishing progress!. Completion of the buildings is scheduled for next month and in January we will start with the fixture and fittings.
The orphanage
It will consist in 5 blocks:
  • 3 hostel blocks (for 100 orphans each)
  • 1 dining and kitchen block
  • 1 school block
I am very proud to announce that the construction of all blocks has started already and some of them are just near to completion. This is the progress for each of the blocks illustrated with photos:

Orphanage view
Hostel 1:
It is just remaining the carpentry work, installation of a septic tank and painting of the buildings.

Inside corridor
Hostel 2:
Toilets are yet to be built, plastering of the rooms has started, electric and plumbing installation has been done already.
Hostel 3:
It's on plastering phase and it is ready to start roofing, electric installation has started. Also on this hostel there will be a septic tank.


Kitchen and dining area:
Building work is almost finished with the drainage system and floor remaining, painting work has also started and the electrical installation is done.

School block:
Construction is also underway. This block will also have its own septic tank.

The micro-credit project

This is one of the best performing projects and women are doing very well being able to repaid their loans really quick. So far more than 40 women have benefited from this program allowing them to start small business to support their families and empower the role of women in the community. Some of the business are: selling fish, vegetables, bread making, chicken breeding, etc. Women are charged 2% interest.

My Women Préstamo Business, WPB. So proud of them!!!

The Maize Mill
The maize mill also donated by Totemic is complete and just awaiting for the electricity connection to start operating. It will employ two members of staff and will mean an income for the project. We estimate that it will be used for at least 1,000 families in the local area.
At the moment women and children have to walk over 4 miles (6.4km) with a 50kg bag of maize on their heads just to reach the nearest maize mill. As you know from previous posts maize is the staple food in Malawi and they eat maize porridge twice a day 7 days a week.

Tikondwe maize mill

Example of an existing maize mill

Sending parcels
As part of the endless Totemic support we are sending regular parcels with employees' donations with clothes and toys for the orphans that we are keeping in Malawi to use them once we open the orphanage.
Parcels stored in Malawi. Huge thank you!!
Totemic has sent one employee to volunteer to the project and we hope we can open new volunteer opportunities for Totemic employees next year.
Coming back to Malawi

As last update from Malawi there is the possibility that I will move to Malawi next February to work 'in situ' during the last phase of the project until the orphanage opening at least... which is estimated at by May-June 2013. I can't wait to come back to the Warm Heart of Africa to see with my own eyes the orphanage progress and to see again my Malawian family and all my beloved kids who make you forget about any problem you may have just with their smile!!
With my sweet Shakira :)

Josh White, a previous volunteer at the project, is setting a website for Tikondwe Youth Organisation. It is still under construction but you can see some pictures, the ongoing projects and the contact information in case you want to know more about the organisation, projects, how to volunteer, how to donate...
Balloon and nutella sandwich for every one on my last day at the school in my last visit in May

You can donate now to any project you like and any amount you like starting just from £1!
(You don't need to have a paypal account and it takes just a minute)

Thank you- Gracias- Zikomo

Love & Solidarity with Malawi


Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Orphanage under construction

It is official!!
More than 300 orphans will have a place to call home by the end of this year!!
Orphanage view after one month construction
This is possible  thanks to the immense generosity of Totemic Ltd., the company I work for and which is funding the whole orphanage project and thanks to the hard job of Joshua Mbozole, the Malawian coordinator, who is watching how his dream is coming true!!
From my position I am speechless. This is beyond my dream that was to volunteer in an backward country and live myself in the conditions that millions and millions live and die every day as we all now. Since the moment I landed at Malawi I knew this was going to be a bond forever, but all this is much more than I could ever imagine. This is the most fulfilling thing I have done in my life and I feel so lucky.
As I commented in my previous post I was coming back to Malawi regarding the orphanage construction. I travelled there with two of the directors from my company last May to discuss the about project.
 The first meeting we have with Joshua was fine but I think the directors were a bit cautious about him. This changed completely next day though J  when they fell in love with him and everyone else in the village as it couldn't be any other way when you meet the people from the "Warm Heart of Africa".

The itinerary for that day was to spend the day in the village. They prepared all kind of activities to welcome us and explain everything about the project:
 We first stopped at the school where I used to teach. I didn’t know we were going there and I was so excited when they told me that once we arrived at the school I completely forgot about the trip and the “business” and went crazy with my children from Mapanje!
Mapanje school
The second stop was at one of the orphans’ families. This story is about Rafiki:
He is 6 years old and one of the orphans living with the HIV. He lives with his older sister Violet (17 years old) who takes care of him and their younger sister of 2 years old. Both of their parents passed away few years ago because of the HIV/AIDS. Violet is pregnant and doesn’t have a husband.
Visiting Rafiki's family. Paul and Emma (foreign coordinator)
Then we met chief John. He is the chief from the village and the one donating the land for the orphanage. We walked around the land perimeter and attended to a typical Malawian show with singing and dancing.
Chief John
Malawian dance
The orphanage team.From left to right: Joshua, me, Paul, Lesley and chief John. And Emma who is not in the picture
The final stop was the village where they met Joshua’s family and we had the local food (“nsima”).
After this we came back to the hotel with Joshua and Emma (foreign project coordinator and previous volunteer) to talk about the project.
 Once in the hotel…. we have a brief meeting that was mainly TO APPROVE THE ORPHANAGE!!! And if that was not enough they donated for a maize mill as well!!
The approval meeting
Apart from this two projects Totemic also donated to the micro- credits program for women that I started last February. At the moment more than 40 women have been able to star their own small business and support their families improving in an amazing way the women role in the community.

Right after that meeting Totemic started the funding and in less than one week the orphanage construction started!!!
I brought with me 25kg of donations from friends and people from the company. I had from clothes, shoes, backpacks, toys and a 5kg Nutella bottle, to money to sponsor children to go to school. It was curious how all the children were asking me: “Lulu school shoes, Lulu school bag” after they saw me giving away the donations. Unfortunately the 25 kg were not enough for everyone, but we will keep the donations up. Shoes and school rucksacks are two of the most valued items there. Wearing shoes and a rucksack to school is a sign of being "wealthy" since only a few can afford to pay for them.
Some pictures of the donations:
Outfit donated by Iryna Muha
Innocesia with a dress donated by Emma Charles

Happy Matrida with a school backpack and a barbie donated by Emma Charles
Donations from Valeria Almeda and Anna Forys to one orphan's family
Nutella time
Picture on the left:
Doughnut and chocolate time. 5kg of Nutella donated by Kathryn Thomson.

For most of them it was the first time tasting chocolate in their lives.More than 200 children and adults had a Nutella "sandwich" that day!!

Thank you for all the donations!
My lovely children from Mapanje school! I miss them so much!
Love & solidarity with Malawi,


Sunday, 18 March 2012

So many projects and NEWS from Malawi. I'm coming back!!!

There is not going to be a last post. There are many wonderful things happening at the project, and I am sure you want to know about them. And I am coming back to the Warm Heart of Africa in May !!!! So the Malawian Experience continues...

The first update is from the money fundraised at Christmas. I raised 350 pounds between UK and Spain. Wondering how to best use the money, doing some research and talking to Joshua, the coordinator, we decided to start a MICRO-LOAN BUSINESS FOR WOMEN and has been a complete success. The name for this project is " Women PrĂ©stamo (loan in Spanish) Business". Joshua's mother in law, who has experience in business, is training the women for free. After the training they give a loan of 70 pounds approx. to each of them to start their own business. They have started a few business already:
  • 1 bread making
  • 2 selling vegetables
  • 1 selling fish 
  • 1 chicken breeding
I a few weeks time 4 of the women have been able to pay back the money, isn't amazing? So they can lend the money to more women!

More about the fundraising, Vicky, a friend of mine, is donating  very good money to start a SEXUAL EDUCATION PROGRAM, birth control, HIV/AIDS prevention, etc. They really need this program running; AIDs is unfortunately raising everyday what means young people dying and higher number of orphans, living in extreme conditions.

Talking about the orphans, I have the best news ever! Their living conditions are going to improve as they would never imagine. The company I work for is going to BUILD AN ORPHANAGE FOR MORE THAN 300 CHILDREN. I am working in the project and I am coming back with one of the directors to discuss about the project with Joshua. I am so happy for them!! I remember orphan´s stories were the saddest ones as you may know if have read previous posts.

Apart from the orphanage, my company want to build a VOCACIONAL EDUCATION SCHOOL to help the children to get a job once they finish their secondary education. Subjects will be carpintery, farming, etc.

The company want to CONTRIBUTE toward the WOMEN PRESTAMO BUSINESS as well. Unbelievable!

There are more marvelous things going on in Domasi. Iryna Muha, another friend of mine is helping with the graphic desing and EDITING OF THE NEWSLETTER. Tikondwe has just started to publicize it with the information of the projects going on and other useful information as voluntereering opportunities. (If you would like to receive the newsletter, leave a comment with your email and I will forward it to you).

I have also sent 3 PARCELS with shoes, clothes and toys with the stuff I collected at Christmas.

All I can say is A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone making this possible. This is much more than anyone could ever dream and make me so happy for them. Definitely we are making the diffrence all together. The life of the children from Domasi is being transformed already. We are giving them a better future; a future of hope and opportunities. Keep it up!

All this updates are the ones coming from my side but there are many other projects going on in Domasi thanks to Tikondwe Youth Organisation and the hard job of Joshua, Emma and all the volunteers staying at the project. (If you want to now about the other projects ask for the newsletter).


Love & Solidarity with Malawi.


Wednesday, 11 January 2012

So difficult to write the last post...

Have been a month and a half already in UK-Spain but still so many stories to tell about Malawi and feeling so close!

Today I received the New Information Pack to volunteer in Malawi from Joshua Mbozole, the coordinator in Malawi.  (Will try to uploaded or share the link here in the next post)
Joshua is the creator of Tikondwe Youth Organisation and a member of the family that host all the volunteers during our stay and look after all us so well. Our beloved Papa and Mama!. Joshua is one of Papa and Mama's sons. He is working really hard to help his community and thanks to that the projects is achieving important improvments and even small new projects are growing too.

Dear Papa and Mama. Last morning at Napwanga village :(

Joshua Mbozole, project founder and Eveline,
his wife

One very good new is that one of the volunteers I met there, Emma, is staying longer at Domasi and has took over the Foreign Project  Coordinator role, that previously did Jessica, thanks Emma!

Below you can see a photo of the family I was living with. From left to right: Eluby (my Malawian sister), Matrida, Efort, with the school uniform, and Moses, Eluby's husband. Eluby is Mama and Papa's daughter and Joshua's sister.
This was my last morning in the village.Quite difficult to smile for the picture...

I used to tell you on my post some stories about the orphans families we used to visit every Monday. It have just came to my mind my last visit to the orphans. There were a little sister and brother living with their grandmother. Both the kids and the grandma had HIV/AIDS. I remember it was strange that the woman was lying on the floor when we arrived and didn't stand up. She only standed up when we gave her some stuff for the family to say thank you. I was leaving the project next Monday and on Saturday someone came to the village to say that the grandmother had died due to the AIDS (SIDA in Spanish), so the children were completely orphans now, not sure if they still have a grandfather. That was the reason why the women didn't stand up at our arrival. In the two months I have been in Malawi I have seen two people die around our village. Life expectancy at birth in Malawi is less than 50 years, there is high infant mortality and excess or mortality due to AIDS too.
One of the aims of Tikondwe Youth Organisation is to build an orphanage to gather all the orphans that at the moment live with any relative left or families from the village. So they could be controlled regarding feeding, health and education. But of course they need a quite a lot of money for that and need any help from all us.

Time for one loving story now. It happened my last day in the village and is about a cute baby and her mum. First day I arrived at the village I had a picture with a new born. They love you to have pictures with their babies. Well, my last day at Napwanga village the mum was waiting for me with the baby, a gorgeous girl, and asked me to have a picture myself with her baby. When I was going to take her in my arms her mum removed the piece of garment that wrapped the baby and underneath the baby was wearing a very nice dress. Her mum dressep her up for the special occasion.  So tender... Here you have the photos:

The new born my first day int he village

The baby two months later

I want to show you how Malawian toys look like with a picture: Have a look at the car?

It is made from the local beer carton and the wheels are the caps from coke and fanta bottles.
The kid with the car was so lovely, he hold my hand all the way to the market and back. They all came with us. We were just walking on the street and this is how it happens, so you end up walking with a bunch of children, even adults. No words... Love them all!

Taken at Cape Maclear (lake Malawi)
On Christmas I started fundraising money and stuff (clothes, shoes and toys) to send some parcels to Malawi and help them a bit. I did it in UK and Spain too but I am still doing it. I have found generous people and I am so grateful for their donations to Malawian children. If you want to donate whatever or whichever amount please contact me. We can help them all together.
Fundraising in Spain for my Malawian children
Will write the "last post" soon and will put the link if you want to see more pictures of Malawi.

Love and solidarity with Malawi for this New Year 2012.

Thanks- Gracias- Zikomo

Thursday, 1 December 2011

In Uk but still living in Malawian time

Jenifer from Mapanje school
Almost one week since I came back from having the time of my life but still have plenty of stories to share with you.

Miky in the volunteer house
 On the other hand, posting from UK is not as exciting and mainly challenging as doing it from my dear Malawi.

Miky and Olleny (brothers). In the sun hut

I miss the warm and sunny weather, but the most I miss is the warm and sunny people there. They really deserve the name of the Warm Heart of Africa. Dimakukonda ku Malawi.

Children from Cape Maclear practising drums

I was so excited on my first visit to the supermarket here. Lot of colours, nice smell, plenty of choices, all good quality products (compare to Malawian standards) most of them cheaper than in Malawi. Sound silly, but my Malawian diet is not my best memory from there. Being able to choose what I want to eat every day, and for every meal!,chose the flavour, the brand, have a fridge to keep it, cook with gas, ... Felt like a child in a theme park.

Going to the market for the grocery shopping

It is so good to come back to have some comfort: electricity, internet, phone network all the time, no fuel problems, drink the water from the tap, have a warm shower, sleep in a comfy mattress, not having to spray myself the whole day in mosquito spray, sleeping without my mosquito net, not sweating at night, having a quiet night without the orchestra of rats, mosquitos, bats, goats, the cock crowing at 4am with the Malawian sunrise... In general happy of having eveything you want/need with a simple fingers "click". Do you realise that?
Having the sunrise at 4am (Kwacha time)mean that everybody!! (Malawians not the volunteers) and all the animals got up, and start working, playing or just hanging around. Meanwhile I tried to sleep every day till 7.30am when I got up to go to school but wasn't very successful.
The sunset was at 6pm and at 7.30pm (Chicken time), or so, everybody went to bed. I tried to keep my European hours and didn't go to bed before 9.30pm, so I have spent a lot of money in candles :)

Kwacha time means, get up and go to earn some Kwachas, the local currency.
Chicken time means, they put inside the house all the chickens over night and the release them in the morning at Kwacha time again. And means time to go to bed.

My flatmates at night. Seven cokcs and hens sleeping next to my bedroom, with no door in the rooms and crowing at 4am everyday...

It seems like I am complaining but is not that. It is just realising the contrast and appreciating what we have in the Western World. And despite of everything I really miss Malawi and I of course I want to come back. So, you can imagine all the good things they have down there :D

I want to talk now about my last week there. I went to Lake Malawi, to relax, to prepare myself to come back to this side again, and to say goodbye, or see you soon, to Malawi. I stayed on my own for 4 days and 6 of the volunteers came over for the weekend. After the weekend they  came back to the village and I left to Blantyre for one night to make sure I was on time to take my flight back to the UK next day; you know all the fuel and transport issues there.
I have such an amazing time and the best ending to my stay in Malawi. Acutally, the saying of The Warm Heart of Africa comes from this part of Lake Malawi, CAPE MACLEAR, and once again I can confirm it.

Monkey Bay, another part of the lake close to Cape Maclear. I stayed there for two days
Last dinner with the volunteers in Cape Maclear
Enjoying the sunset in Cape Maclear

Something that I think I didn't mention before is that Malawi is a very safe country. Just arrived at the UK and heard about 4 Spanish that have been kidnapped in Africa during this year. Malawi is one of the 10 poorest countries in the World but it is ranked as the 39th in the Global Peace Index out of 153 countries and as the second most peaceful country in Africa after Botswana.

Last day on the village me and two other volunteers went to have lunch with our favourite njinga driver (bike) and to meet his family. We provided them with some food and they cooked it for all of us. One of the volunteers gave him pasta and went we were having lunch he said to us that it was the first time in his life he ate pasta. He is 35 years old and had never tried pasta before... He liked it by the way. Pasta is 3 times more expensive than rice and anyway they cannot afford to buy rice very often.

Below njinga driver Laurence and his family. We had lunch with Miriam and Steve as well.
Laurence was always in the best mood and he says he loves his job. With a perfect English, he taught us Chichewa all the way up the hill during the 30 min  ride in the bike. All for MK150= 60p

Pasta meal, first time for all Laurence's family

Still few more posts to come...
Zikomo kwambiri