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Aug 30, 2018

University Here We Come!

Alinafe
Alinafe

Thanks to your support, EKARI's current college freshman cohort started their higher educations! They are studying at six different universities in Malawi. Each student is dedicated to his/her education and we have high hopes that they will make a difference in their communities and their country. Check out the list below regarding their studies!  

Wilson, Bachelor of Entrepreneurship

Obed, Bachelor of Accounting - Internal Audit

Blessings, Bachelor of Public Health

Timothy, Bachelor of Finance

Jenipher, Bachelor of Nutrition

Linda, Bachelor of Nutrition

Alinafe, Bachelor of Nursing

Sarah, Bachelor of Social Science and Development Studies 

Innocent, Bachelor of Information and Communication Technology

Mackford, Bachelor of Surgery

Elizabeth, Bachelor of Land Management

Gertrude, Bachelor of Engineering in Textile Design

Grace, Bachelor of Chemical Engineering

Timothy
Timothy
Jun 15, 2018

The Unexpected That Made My Trip Worthwhile

EKARI's Program Coordinators
EKARI's Program Coordinators

I traveled to Malawi in April for my annual monitoring and evaluation trip. Because I communicate daily with our field staff, my trip went pretty much as expected. But, it was those things that I did not expect that made my trip worthwhile. I saw firsthand how our life skills training sessions are having an impact! 

For two days, I took our field staff away from the daily grind of work, persistent asks for support, and the hustle and bustle of Phalombe (Phalombe is a rural village, but market days can be quite active!). I hosted a retreat at a rustic lodge located in the shadow of Mount Mulanje, just 30 minutes from Phalombe. To commence the retreat and get to know our staff better (we have 3 new employees since I last visited), we completed a core values exercise. The point of the exercise is to determine your core values and how those core values play a role in your life. What surprised us all was that of the 18 core values listed, all 6 of us shared only four of them (justice, love, family, and wisdom). This exercise lay the foundation for the next two days where we bonded and gained increased trust in one another.

Prior to my trip, we identified a few program challenges. I asked our field staff to come to the retreat prepared with proposed solutions. I simply asked questions to fill in the gaps and we found a way forward. Because our field staff further developed EKARI's programs on their own, they will take more ownership of the programs moving forward and be more passionate about their work. I saw their passion for EKARI's work not only at the retreat, but also during my field visits. Jacqueline beamed with joy when she introduced me to one of the Village Savings and Loan groups we work with; she calls them her 'baby' because the VSL was on the brink of collapse when she started working with them and now all 20 members experience profits. In amazement, I saw that this is not just a job for Jacqueline; it is a way of giving back to her fellow Malawians.

A two week school holiday occurred during my visit. I stayed in our new home with the girls we support. I must admit that I can easily get overwhelmed living with 30 youth. It can be noisy and chaotic. And usually there is a constant barrage of questions from students asking me for things. This year was different. It was quieter; the students respected study hours without Elias having to remind them like he used to. The youth strictly adhered to a chore chart. I assumed Elias had created it, but when I looked closer I saw that one of our students was the author. And not a single student asked me for anything - this was the greatest surprise of my trip. Instead we had fabulous conversations about EKARI, America, and our families. The Saturday morning that I departed, I could only find a few students. "Where is everyone?", I asked thinking that they had gone to the market to have fun. I was way off. They were in the field next door working hard to harvest corn for EKARI's 3 Meals a Day Program! I called them out of the field and got a bunch of sweaty hugs. That was the best send off I could have received. The dependency syndrome that we struggle with is greatly decreasing among our youth!

Thank you to all who support EKARI's amazing work! Although you cannot see it directly with your own eyes, through mine, please know that you are making a difference.

Zabwino zonse (all my best),
Michelle Bradley

VSL Group
VSL Group
Student Debates
Student Debates
Small group study sessions
Small group study sessions
Mar 22, 2018

New Adult Literacy Classes!

Many nonprofit organizations working in Malawi's Phalombe district, including EKARI, acknowledge that adult illiteracy represents the greatest challenge in their efforts to conduct sustainable and empowering development work. Adult illiteracy slows the overall development of developing countries such as Malawi and perpetuates the suffering of entire communities. Several adult community members in our impact area state, “My life has been full of challenges and suffering because I did not have the opportunity to learn how to read and to write”. Many illiterate adults do not see the importance of an education and therefore do not wish to send their children to school, which contributes to the vicious cycle of extreme generational poverty in Malawi.

To address these low literacy rates, EKARI partnered with the local Phalombe government starting in February 2014, providing approximately 250 adults annually access to adult literacy classes. We currently operate 11 adult literacy classes, nine conducted in Chichewa (native language) and two in English. Our primary objective to increase adult literacy rates in the Phalombe district.

Of the current 11 classes are four new Chichewa classes that we recently established in February! Mable, our Community Programs Coordinator, worked with local government trainers to train new instructors for each of the four classes. Instructors are community members who have completed at least their sophomore year of high school. EKARI provides monthly stipends to these instructors. Mable also delivered learning materials to each class including chalkboards, textbooks, notebooks, and pens. 

During the classes, adult learners not only learn the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic, but also acquire knowledge about topics such as health/sanitation, HIV/AIDS, gender rights, agriculture, food/nutrition, etc. Entire communities benefit from our Adult Literacy Program because adult learners pass the knowledge gained onto their family and fellow community members. One adult learner stated, “I now understand the importance of washing my hands and asking my children to do the same for the health of my family.” 

Thank you for your support of this important and life changing program! 

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