All of MLFA’s funds go to women living in the Blantyre region, southern Malawi. Malawi is the 9th most impoverished country in the world. It’s in southern Africa, bordering with Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique and is home to around 13.9 million people. The average wage is just US$160 per annum or just US$0.43 per day. This is less than half of what is considered to be the poverty level of just US$1 per day.
Oxfam estimate that 1 in 7 people aged 15-49 years have HIV and as a result the country has close to 1 million orphans, which are being cared for by with aunties, uncles and grandparents.
Most Malawians rely on subsistence farming but drought followed by occasional destructive heavy rainfalls put the country in constant need of thousands of tonnes of food aid every year. The current financial crisis is expected to have dire effects on that food aid, and so also on the people of Malawi.
We help these communities, not with hand-outs but by giving the greatest gift of all: the chance for women to find their own way out of the poverty cycle forever, with respect.
The American arm of MLF, MLF USA, was also launched earlier this year and their chief executive, David Rice, travelled to Malawi in November.
Below is some of what he saw.
“With a US$40 loan, one entrepreneur has established a biscuit bakery and in only two months, she’s been able to save ten dollars. Before she became a client, she had no savings and was struggling to feed her children. Another woman, Joyce, is one of the leaders of the group, and one of the more successful entrepreneurs. She has a loan of US$60 and makes and sells beverages. Joyce’s husband passed away and she has 12 dependents – 5 of her own children and 7 orphans. In the villages of Malawi, when children lose their parents, there’s no one else to care for them other than the members of the community in which they live. The responsibility for providing that care falls to the most responsible women in the village, and Joyce is no exception.”
Also, if you are interested in seeing more about Malawi, you can watch a video made by Ewan McGregor who visited a hospital in Blantyre, Malawi and filmed his experience talking with people about women living with AIDS.
On the positive side, Malawi, fondly known as “The Warm Heart of Africa,” it is a beautiful country with some of the friendliest people in the world – so much so that it is one of the few countries never to have experienced a war! It is also the world’s No 5 strongest netball nation and beat South Africa in the recent World Cup held in New Zealand.