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 Health  Malawi Project #35186

Empower Malawian villagers to make a difference

by Bwenzi
Empower Malawian villagers to make a difference

With less than two weeks until our U.S. team departs for Malawi (March 6th), planning and preparations are in full swing. Our U.S. team will meet with the Malawi Polytechnic students upon their arrival, and the project team will work with village leaders in Luwanje to finish building rehabilitations, stock up on resources, and open our new education center!

While the education center is the main objective of our upcoming trip, our RPI students are also planning a secondary project, which will benefit our village in terms of health and education. We are beyond excited to see what they have planned!

In addition to planning for the Malawi 2020 trip, our Board of Directors recently met with RPI students to discuss their goals for this current semester and set roadmaps to achieve those goals. Since then, RPI students have made great progress in improving and growing their chapter. Members of the Malawi Polytechnic team recently sent video recordings to the RPI students, which they have been using to learn Chichewa, the local language in Malawi, as part of their weekly meetings. They have been partnering with other student organizations on campus, and have restructured their meeting format. The students have already seen an increase in members and meeting attendance. This is vital to the sustainability of the chapter, and therefore our efforts in Malawi. They have quite an exciting semester ahead!

Stay updated on our Facebook page and Instagram as we begin the final countdown to Malawi 2020!

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"Although we came from diverse backgrounds, we were all trying to accomplish the same goal." - Catherine

Catherine, along with nearly 30 others, attended our first ever End-of-Summer Social held in New York City on September 21st. Catherine is a current student at RPI. At the social, she eloquently spoke on her experiences working with Bwenzi, her trip to Africa, and the meaningful connections she made along the way. 

"I want to go to school like you. I want that choice," a young girl from the village of Luwanje told Catherine. Student leaders like Catherine would not be able to lead without the help of our generous support system and donors. This event was our way of saying thank you to our current/past donors, and welcome new partners.


As Adrian, Vice President of Business Development with Bwezni, reflected - 


"Volunteering doesn't always mean boots on the ground. There's a lot that goes into a project beyond the actual trip and any contribution you can make towards that end goal is meaningful in its own way."


We are incredibly thankful to have spent a night of laughter, giving, and happiness with our team! Every single person that attended or donated to the event has truly made a difference in the world and impacted the lives of others. Post-event, our efforts have shifted to planning for our learning center rehabilitation project and upcoming trip to Malawi. Our Malawi Polytechnic students and a team of professional engineers are currently working on plans to rehabilitate a community center in our partner villages, which will serve as a safe space for children to gather and learn, packed full of educational resources and support. Our students on the ground will use this center to hold programming during village visits as well. 

The idea for this learning rehabilitation center did not come from us alone. While in Malawi last year, we asked village leaders what the primary needs of their villages are. We were informed that since our first visits, cases of malaria have become rare, and most, if not all, families have access to nets and prevantitive care. Lack of proper educational tools, and a place where children can gather for school was one of their top concerns. As a team of US students, Malawi students, and Malawi villagers, we collectively decided to shift our focus to education now that we have tacked the most threating health issues. 

"As we plan for the work that lies ahead, we want to prioritize three goals:

  1. To expland our impact - both by working with more students and universities in the US, as well as reaching more villages in Malawi.
  2. To begin working on education initiatives, the next step to empower communities adter ensuring good health.
  3. To finalize out key metrics and accountability standards - what good is the work we do if we can't prove it to ourselves and to the public?"

- James, Founder and Executive Director

In the past few months, we have made great strides in reaching these goals. We have taken the initial steps towards this new education initiative and begun work with professional engineers on building plans. We are also delving into a new program evaluation method which will allow us to quantitatively measure the impact we are making, and assess future needs with ease. We are so excited to see what this coming year has in store for us. 

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Hello all,

 

With summer nearing its end over here in the States, we have been in a planning frenzy for our RPI chapter. The students will be kicking off the academic year recruiting new members at the school’s Activities Fair, and then jump right into fundraising and trip planning at their weekly meetings!

Our Board of Directors met in New York City in June to discuss our goals for this quarter of the year. We are excited to implement some new structural changes to the RPI method, and our Board of Directors will be taking on most fundraising initiatives from here on out.

Our Malawi Polytechnic team has begun a new initiative to build and implement an education center for the use of our partner villages in Malawi. While this initiative is brand new and details have yet to be hashed out, we are really excited to begin with this project and see it unfold.

 

Here’s to a successful and action-packed start to the academic year!

 

Until next time,

 

Erin

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Hello all! 

Once again, your donations and generousity have helped us help others with great success. 

In March of this year, Cyclone Idai swept through regions of southern Africa, Malawi being one of the most heavily impacted countries. Villages across southeastern Africa, Malawi included, have face devastating floods, ruined crops, and more as a result. By April, it was reported that the cylone and its associated flooding and heavy rains have led to over 1,000 deaths and hundreds of thousands of people displaced throughout Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe. At least 60 deaths are confirmed in Malawi, over 500 injured, and tens of thousands displaced, particularly in the LowerShire region.

Bwenzi has reached out to victims in the Chikwawa district who have found shelter at the Mlambe Church of Christ camp during this disaster. The camp hosts 65 families, with a total population of 262 people. With populations in this camp growing, and resources dwindling, we felt an emergency response was necessary. Our Malawi Polytechnic team visited the camp on May 4th, 2019 and distributed maize flour, soya pieces, laundry soap, and salt.

Each family received two packets of maize flour weighing 4 kilograms in total, 3 packets of soya pieces, 2 bars of large Ufresh laundry soap, and a packet of salt. The team gladly report that every single family recieved items, and some of the extra packets of salt were left with the Chief of the village were the camp is located.

After our visit, the camp sent their appreciation to the Bwenzi team for the great initiative. They lamented that their camp is mostly neglected when it comes to resource distribution, especially food and other necessities. Their gratitude towards Bwenzi was beyond measure, however our work here is not done. We are still hoping to provide tents or other materials for temporary shelter, more food for the future, and first aid/sanitary supplied for those injured. 

 

Thank you for your continued support to those in need. Our hearts are with those effected by this natural disaster, and we are doing everything in our power to keep our international friends safe during these hard times. 

 

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Hello all!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our donors for making the work we do possible. Through your generosity, our 2019 trip to Malawi, which concluded on January 7th, was a huge success. We began the New Year delivering 600 long-lasting, insecticide treated mosquito nets to 3 villages in Malawi. So how exactly did we accomplish this?

 Stage 1 - Planning

The decision to expand to a third village stemmed from a planning meeting with our RPI and Malawi Polytechnic teams upon our arrival to Malawi. Our teams decided to expand to this new village in the Chikwawa district in addition to the two villages previously visited in Mulanje due to their location in the warmer valley, resulting in increased risk of malaria throughout the district.

Stage 2 - Introductions

After our planning meeting, our project team visited each village in person to meet with village leaders. We asked for feedback on how they have been doing since our visit last year, if our aid has helped, what we can provide to help more, and ran ideas for supplemental projects by them for approval. Conversations like these are the backbone of our organization – they allow us to truly act as partners and allow for the greatest impact possible for the villages we work with. One village in the Mulanje region informed us that they have only had three cases of malaria since our last visit, and children have completed the educational books provided and are eager to learn more.

Stage 3 – Net Distribution/Youth Engagement

It was decided that we would distribute 300 of our 600 nets to the village in Chikwawa, and 150 to each village in Mulanje. In addition to nets, the villages in Mulanje received soccer balls, jump ropes, and primary school books for the children. Because this was our first time meeting the villagers in Chikwawa, we focused on teaching them the dangers of malaria, how to use the nets, and busted some common myths about them that would prevent use. It was a truly beautiful day, and we are excited to further build on the new relationships formed that day. We also spent one day in the Mulanje villages distributing the additional nets, running reading groups, and playing games with the children. It was a blast for all!

Stage 4 – Planning (again!)

We concluded our trip with a planning meeting for next year. Feedback we received included tackling other issues their villages face, such as water accessibility, school infrastructure, and food availability for children during the school day. Our RPI and Malawi teams are currently brainstorming how we can work with villages to solve these issues and implement them in our project next year.

Until next time,

Erin

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Organization Information

Bwenzi

Location: Palisades Park, NJ - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Erin Balas
Palisades Park, NJ United States
$1,480 raised of $5,000 goal
 
40 donations
$3,520 to go
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