Empower Malawian villagers to make a difference

by Bwenzi
Empower Malawian villagers to make a difference

I hope everyone has been having a great 2021 so far and staying safe and healthy.

 

Our students in Malawi continue to check in with our partner villages as it relates to our on-going long-term projects. They have also implemented additional COVID-19 follow ups with the local elementary schools.

 

The organization has recently launched our monthly donor program, Global Campus. Global Campus is our community of monthly donors who are committed to empowering others in the pursuit of quality education and good health. We are extremely proud of this launch and how quickly the community has grown. We also hosted our first every Global Campus Event and invited members of our community to join us for a Holiday Event Zoom. Our Global Campus Members had the opportunity to have a one-on-one conversation with one of our Malawi students, Emmanuel Kaliwo. Members of Global Campus also received Bwenzi masks!

 

 

On the RPI front, our students are preparing to face another difficult semester of virtual learning. Being an organization that centers around building lasting relationships, community, and partnership, social distancing and isolation has certainly presented a challenge for our student chapter.

Thanks to a generous donation last semester, our students have been providing the campus with our "Do More" masks, which will continue into this semester! Until it is safe again, we will continue making a difference from a distance.

 

If you’d like to learn more about becoming a Global Campus Member, please visit us at https://www.bwenzi.org/globalcampus.

 

As we continue to empower and support our communities, locally, and globally, we always ask for your support and call you to #DoMore. Find out how at http://Bwenzi.org/DoMore

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We recently held our end of Summer Social this past August and had it attended by over 50 of our supports. Given the current global pandemic, we decided to host the event over ZOOM. Our amazing speakers included Ashlee Touzalin of RPI Bwenzi, Adama Diggs of Harlem Grown, Bethany Clark of Invisible Children, and Tammy Ying of The Music Box NY. Each story told was unique, inspiring, and motivating. We raised awareness for our cause and brought our Global Community together. 

Given the success of our Malawi students' COVID-19 Project Awareness this past June, we decided to launch another program, targeting four local elementary schools. The project will focus on COVID-19 preparedness and prevention in grade schools, partnering with a total of four schools across the villages of Chikwawa and Mulanje. We will work with one primary and one secondary school in each village, covering roughly 85% of students in our partner villages. Our team has designed child-friendly information and communication materials on COVID-19 facts and prevention tactics which will be distributed and taught in the target schools. Members will visit schools and promote and demonstrate proper hand washing and positive hygiene techniques while teaching on and myth busting disease prevention and control. 

Lastly, on the US side, our RPI students have started the semester and are hosting events on campus and over ZOOM to raise awareness for our cause. We have also purchased and distributed over 200 masks to for members of the RPI community. 

As we continue to empower and support our communities, locally, and globally, we always ask for your support and call you to #DoMore. Find out how at Bwenzi.org/DoMore

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COVID-19 Hand Washing Demonstration
COVID-19 Hand Washing Demonstration

Our team successfully finished and implemented our annual project which concluded on March 16th, 2020.

 

A few key highlights from the trip:

 

We purchased additional books and learning supplies for each of our communities, which will be used by our local student leaders in coordination with the community's volunteer teachers to hold guided reading groups. One of our villages, Roben, received a fully stocked first-aid kit (which we plan on restocking at various intervals throughout the year); this was based on specific feedback we received from the community leaders. We also successfully implemented a pilot project, where we renovated an existing building and re-purposed it into a brand new education center. This was an incredibly successful trip and the team could not be happier with the project turnout.

 

In more recent events, with the global pandemic around COVID-19, our team in Malawi decided to launch a COVID-19 Awareness project to properly inform members of our partner villages of the dangers of the virus and how easy it passes on from one person to the next. In the past two weeks, our team in Malawi Polytechnic teamed up with Education for Change and Malawi College of Medicine to form a task force. The goal of the project was to dispel any misconceptions about COVID and provide hygienic supplies, as well as setting up local washing stations. The team went into each of our partner villages and taught the importance of hand washing through live demonstrations. Through this project, the goal was to reach at least 6,000 people and provide them with the necessary tools to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

 

As we continue to empower and support our communities, locally, and globally, we always ask for your support and call you to #DoMore. Find out how at Bwenzi.org/DoMore

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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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Organization Information

Bwenzi

Location: Palisades Park, NJ - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Erin Balas
Palisades Park, NJ United States

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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