Malawian women have vision to take their country a level higher:Betty Makoni as eye witness
Editorial Comment-By Betty Makoni
It has become a tradition and a positive cultural practice to follow and network with women round the globe who are working at grassroots level and making impact. The last Saturday I was honoured to attend a workshop meeting organised by some prominent women from Malawi but now living or working in UK. I arrived a little late for this important workshop but I did not miss much. There were women who came from far and wide to share their work and to unite in efforts in supporting the growth and development of their country. As I listened to each speaker I felt that for years women waited for international organisations to bring them together for development of their countries when clearly many had such skills to give to their country. More so women came together at a time when Malawi has a first female President who is now the first Female President for the whole Southern African region. Such critical moments pass by in history of women but I just felt I would speak and urge women to unite against patriarchy and ensure all our knowledge and skills are reinvested in our countries and be positive role models in our black communities in UK. I left the workshop inspired and fired up to do more
Below is a full report from Founder of Malawi Women`s Association.
By Manyika Grace-Founder of Malawi Women`s Association (MAWA)
The London meeting was a blasting success! Women travelled from different parts of England and Wales to attend. Speaking with passion for MAWA and what they do best, we heard inspiring speeches from women working within the private and Voluntary Sector. We listed with amazement as Business Women, Munya Sajanga (World Cargo International), Grace Ntolera-Mujungu (Grajoh Investments) and Lilly Alfonso (Lilly Creations) shared their journey to global success.
A lot of advice was given on perseverance with particular emphasis on how long it takes to start realising one's profits. On getting the greatest job satisfaction from what they do for a living, they shared us how they followed their childhood passion, regardless of what anyone said, including how they moved on from ditching their professional 9-5 jobs to becoming global Entrepreneurs. Evidence of the level at which participants now operate was demonstrated via videos and product samples. Lilly went on to explain how she works with local producers and uses local products in her designs. Videos of her tie and dye theme and how she works with the disabled in producing the desired prints were show. Several other women brought their product samples banners and business cards. The Bottled Chilli Sauce (Sapitwa) by Ulanda Nyondo was a hit.
In response to what one aspiring business woman witnessed, she expressed how angry she was with herself for procrastinating over opening her her nursery. On civil society Towela Gondwe Siame (Apikanile Women).
Mary Wells (MIND Volunteer) and Mary Woodworth (Friends of Mulanje orphans FOMO) shared how they came about identifying the needs of the people they now serve back home in Malawi. Mary shared how she progressed from using her house in the UK for an office to fundraising for building children's centres for orphaned children in Mulanje. Having started with helping children during holidays in Malawi, through video clips Mary demonstrated the level at which FOMO operates. She now helps over 5000 orphans, has hundreds of women volunteers who run the centres. On fundraising for FOMO Mary shared the methods used including running a driving school and sewing centre, sponsors and shipping donated product from the UK to the orphans in Malawi. Further Mary shared on dealing with sabotage, the male domineering world and the Press. This inspired the women participants and many were concerned by how, as a woman fighting for her rights, she was portrayed as a trouble maker. Mary confirmed she won all her battles including her recent success in claiming her land back. Through the experience Mary says she can comfortably declare herself as an activist! We also heard the journey from the Apikanile Women who work on various projects in Malawi. On empowering women, Co-Founder Towela Gondwe Siame explained how she observed the needs of her own mother back home in that they were similar to those of other mothers. Starting with economically empowering her own Mother to generate her income from track driving, Towela and her co-founder Gertrude Banda have gone on to start a Driving School. Since then five more women are now truck drivers! Apikanile women is a new organisation established in the UK in June 2012 to serve women and the girl child in Malawi.
Its official, we are taking Betty Makoni into Malawi. You should have been there to hear it all! This is when one calls a 'spade' a 'spade'! Audio and speech too be published on group, website and a possible radio broadcasting as people need to here this! Like one participant commented, Betty Makoni is deadly and I second that. She has told us not to be apologetic in forming a powerful organisation such as MAWA.
I can confirm that 12 volunteers were recruited for the South with Lilly Alfonso joining the Malawi Chapter. Malawi Embassy London provided information packs for registering an NGO in Malawi as well as doing business in Malawi. These documents will be uploaded on to the files page on this group and our website. This will include my presentation on the MAWA concept.
The all important Handbags crowded participants; Ciyanjano Chikakula Jonga and Ulanda Nyangwira Nyondo (Jajys Catering) donated food for the event. Edith Parker (Parker Events) donated the event Decorations. Munya Sajanga (World Cargo International) supplied the event with the high level presentation equipment.