Jul 8, 2016

WELCOMING OUR YOUNG LEADERS!

Group photo of dreamers, mentors and AGHCA staff
Group photo of dreamers, mentors and AGHCA staff

What an exciting quarter it has been!  We recruited a new cohort of dreamers from both Chancellor College and Domasi College of Education and, for the first time, our new partner Malawi College of Health Sciences.  We now have a total of 14 new projects, led by 34 vibrant and motivated young leaders. Their projects address different social problems including HIV/Aids, gender equity in education, and illiteracy.

We held the orientation weekend for the students on the campsites of Zomba Plateau.  The orientation was graced with the presence of our mentors Madalo, Lekodi, Thelma, Zola, Reginald, Bright, Susan and Winnie, AGHCA staff and of course, the dreamers themselves.  The dreamers had intensive training in program design, program implementation, financial management, monitoring and evaluation and communication. These trainings helped them develop their project idea for social impact and gain a better understanding of the skills they would need to make their projects a success. 

It wasn’t all work, with the dreamers playing games and telling ghost stories around a blazing campfire. The schools we partner with serve different populations, and our students expressed excitement to interact with people from different backgrounds, experiences, and academic interests to them. The greatest resource of our young leaders is each other, and they began building those relationships throughout the orientation weekend. 

The dreamers also learned what it really means to be a dreamer and how this is an opportunity for them to grow as leaders and have a positive impact on their communities.

Current SWD mentor and former dreamer Madalo recently received the Queens Young Leaders award for her 2015 Students With Dreams Program “Loud-Ink”, which she cofounded with her Students With Dreams partner Lekodi.  Their project provides a platform for young people in secondary schools to express themselves through written word.

Madalo’s project, and subsequent recognition, would not have been possible without you. Your support makes dreams happen!

Zikomo kwambiri! ( Chichewa for ‘thank you’)

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Apr 11, 2016

Meet our new mentors

The AGHCA team is really excited to be starting our next cycle of Students With Dreams. A series of information sessions have been getting prospective dreamers thinking about their visions for positive social change in Malawi, and we're enjoying reading their ideas as the applications roll in. We created a series of videos with last year's dreamers to share their experiences and tips with people considering applying for Students With Dreams, and we're also thrilled to share these with you, who made these stories happen!

One particular highlight has been welcoming a new team of mentors. Mentors are leaders who successfully completed our Students With Dreams program, and are inspired to support the next cohort of dreamers to make their dreams a reality. 

Zola of Chancellor College shares: 'Not only am I a mentor, but also a project leader for Art beyond Bars, a project that uses art as a platform for expression in an attempt to attain full rehabilitation for prisoners. I want to see the youth initiate! I want them to be a part of the 'CHANGE' process instead of them just demanding for it in order to have a better Malawi.'

Lekodi, a Project Leader on 'LoudInk!' last year adds: 'I like to challenge my mind to try something new. The sky is the limit. The only limit to imagination and creativity are the limits we give ourselves. Granted not all things can happen, pigs won’t fly, but it shouldn’t stop you from trying. Right now I’m working to finish my degree and I’m writing a novel while I do it. I grew up around a different array of unique individuals which has shaped me into the person I am today and I hope to use my found creativity to help those of tomorrow.'

Susan is in her second year at the Domasi College of Education. She is excited about mentoring this year. When she is not laughing she is smiling, and she believes this will help her with facilitating the weekly brainstorming sessions. Susan’s Students With Dreams project “Ndi ngathe” worked with teen mothers who were still in school, or were dropping out due to early pregnancy.

We hope you join our excitement in seeing what these young leaders support the next generation of Dreamers to achieve, and thank you as always for your generous donations.

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Dec 9, 2015

Umunthu is Tolerance

Viewers watch UMUNTHU at the Tumaini Arts Festival
Viewers watch UMUNTHU at the Tumaini Arts Festival

“Malawians, we agree that Umunthu is tolerance. So let’s find an amicable situation where we can tolerate on the lesbian and gay issues. I think that’s all I can comment.”

-          Audience member at an Umunthu discussion

 

We recently finished up a string of screenings and discussions of the documentary UMUNTHU: An African Response to Homosexuality. UMUNTHU is a film which considers LGBTI issues in Malawi through the lens of Umunthu. A Southern African philosophy that translates to “I Am Because We Are,” Umunthu emphasizes the interconnectedness of all people.

Art and Global Health Center Africa (AGHCA) hosted the film at the Zomba Arts Festival, with Umunthu filmmaker Mwizalero Nyirenda introducing it as the feature film. We also organized the film festival portion at the Tumaini Arts Festival in Dzaleka Refugee Camp, where we showcased Umunthu.

Currently, we are partnering with the University of Malawi to conduct research on the social climate for LGBTI students in institutions of higher education. The study is part of a larger international study on LGBTI issues in higher education. We have screened Umunthu at the four campuses of the University of Malawi, hosting focus group discussions and collecting surveys following the viewing to assess students, faculty and administrations’ knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and practices of LGBTI issues on campus. This research will be used to identify the gaps, needs and possibilities for improving the institutional and social climate for LGBTI students at the University of Malawi.

In the focus groups, students recognized sexual identity as a human rights issue. One viewer said the film was only “the tip of an iceberg” and “how much work there [is] to do to help these gay/lesbian people to accomplish their rights.” Another person was amazed to see Malawians speak positively about LGBTI persons, having only heard people criticize and discriminate against them. Students in our focus groups requested more research into the stigma faced by LGBTI people so that more Malawians can understand the magnitude of the issue. 

Addressing discrimination against LGBTI persons in Malawi is a challenging, but rewarding endeavor. We could not do this work without your generous support. We hope you will continue to follow our organization’s fight for human rights for all in Malawi.

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