Meet Fwasani, she is 27 years old and married. She and her husband live with her Aunt, and a small child. They make a living by growing vegetables and selling them at a local market. Neither she or her husband had the money to finish school, they very work hard. Yet, Fwasani still finds time to volunteer at a local nursery school.
Not long ago Fwasani and 9 other women began a Bible Study and Savings and Loan Club. They call the club Kanthunkhama. Translated the word means, “If you don’t success, try again.” Each week the women come together to study the Bible. They also contribute to the Saving and Loan Club, most weeks less than $1 each. Fwasani serves as Treasurer. The club then approves, and manages loans to members and others.
Fwasani received a loan and bought fertilizer for her crops. After doing so the harvest was twice the harvest of prior years! With the earnings from her bumper crop, Fwasani has been able to save some money. She plans to buy some land and expand the farm to sell even more crops.
Now an empowered woman, Fwasani and her family have a brighter future. More importantly, as a part of the Bible Study Savings and Loan Club, she is making a difference in the lives of other women and families too!
It is a common thing for teenage girls and boys to attend school together, at least in much of the world. Unfortunately, in developing countries, girls often don’t get the same opportunities as boys.
Young girls in Malawi live very different lives than those in the US. Their day likely begins before dawn. There are chores to do. Water must be fetched for the day. Over an open fire they help prepare breakfast for the family. It all takes time and she is often late for school. Later in the day there will be more chores, more fetching of water and more cooking. There will be little time left for study.
Often families will ask their daughters to help in the fields. They need extra hands to do the hard work of tilling, planting, hoeing, and toting. Having food to eat may depend on the efforts of the children in the family. School is a secondary priority.
Sometimes without their consent, sometimes just to survive, in certain districts of Malawi almost half of girls are married before age 18. The responsibilities of a wife, the home and children follow. School is no longer possible.
Keeping girls in school is not only cool, it will change the future! Not just for girls but for the communities they live in!
To make this happen Y-Malawi partners are working to empower girls. It begins with education for Chiefs, Pastors, village leaders and families regarding the importance of school. It means education and cultural change around the destructiveness of child marriages. It means coaching young girls through assertiveness, and providing encouragement that dreams can become reality.
Click HERE to learn how you can get involved. Click HERE to watch A Girl in Malawi
Most of us living in the United States have a difficult time understanding the many challenges people face in developing countries like Malawi. Life for girls and women can be very different. Consider some of the statistics.
- The average woman has 5.7 children
- 26% of women who bear children are age 15 – 19
- 50% of women are married before age 18
- For women with no education the average age of marriage is less than 17
- For women with education the average age of marriage is 24
- 14% of women are in a marriage that is polygamous
- 40% of women report spousal or partner violence
Empowering vulnerable girls and women in Malawi can make a significant difference not only in the lives of girls and women, but in the future of the country. Y-Malawi and our partners recognize how important this is. In late 2017 we will be launching new programs designed specifically to empower and impact girls and women. Our vision includes helping girls stay in school, and working against child marriage. We will be working to provide educational, vocational, and development opportunities so that girls and women can become less dependent. Local churches need the active participation of girls and women, so we are working to open these doors too.
We are excited about what is to come, watch for us to announce new programs soon. We hope you will engage with us!
What in the world could nourishment and the Bible have to do with each other? Well, perhaps more than you think. They both bring life and provide abundance. Fertilizer can nourish plants, fruits and vegetables. The Bible can nourish the lives of people. In Malawi, our partners use both to to make a difference.
They hold classes teaching people how to make their own fertilizer using biodegradable waste. Fertilization is not a common practice in Malawi, but when done properly it can produce significant increases in crops. It can mean the difference between life and death during the hunger season.
Then classes transition to teaching the Bible. It is amazing to understand how open the people are to hearing about the word of God. Like nourishment for lives, people are growing, they are blooming. They display the beauty of knowing God in their lives. They are share the fruits of purpose and peace.
It’s a lesson many of us could take to heart too!
Learning how to make fertilizer Learning about the word of God
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Did you go to summer camp? Did you know that many credit summer camp as a turning point in their lives? It’s true, not only here, but in Malawi too.
Each summer Y-Malawi partners host hundreds of youth at summer camps. Just like camps in the U.S. young people fellowship with each other, learn about the Bible, take part in sharing, and make commitments to change their lives forever.
The picture first picture below is a role-playing exercise while studying the story of Joseph from the Old Testament. In the second, they toss a stone into the river to symbolize leaving their “old self” behind as they move forward in their walk with God.
One young girl said, “Parents family and friends are going to see a new person in us!”
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