During the last few weeks we have been engaging with the local community through advocacy and support group sessions. At these various support groups we have been talking to people about HIV prevention and how to live positively with HIV.

One of the first groups we spoke at was an organisation named Kurya Ndiko Uku which literally translates into “this is the way to eat”. Kurya Ndiko Uku work very closely with the children in the community so when they invited us to speak to the young people they work with we jumped at the chance!

We also spoke to 45 Muslim youth at the Mosque and again talked about HIV prevention and demonstrated how to use condoms correctly. There seemed to be a lot of common misconceptions and myths amongst many of the young people we have met. They are all very inquisitive and open with us, and they ask questions I never would have thought of!

Cultural practices

One of the Pastors told us that Manerela+ is trying to change certain cultural practices. Each fortnight, they organise a day where boys and girls come together. The girls are able to take part in activities usually only reserved for boys, such as making a fire, and the boys are able to learn how to cook and so forth.

Young women are also encouraged to stay in school. Many Malawian women marry young and as a result they do not continue with their education. The women in Malawi are also hit the hardest by poverty.

This is why it has been so refreshing to work with groups such as Kurya Ndiko Uku. This group mainly consists of women and was originally formed to help improve the nutrition status of young women and children. The members here produce a range of products including food, moringa powder, and customised Chitenjes and bags which they export to the USA and Japan. It is very inspiring to see young women using their entrepreneurial skills and empowering others.

Children's centre

We are still working closely with the Kaulira nursery. We recently painted a hopscotch for the kids to play with and we are hoping to paint a mural too.

The village that we have been visiting known as the “Mission” has allowed us to set up a children's centre! The people in this village are very entrepreneurial and they do not go to school, so this is a major breakthrough for us. They have already chosen the teachers and we had a meeting recently with the teachers and parents committee to establish a structure and timetable for how the lessons will run. We have been asked to help them come up with a syllabus and a name for the School so we will be going back to the village soon with more ideas.

By Progressio ICS volunteer Tashann Barnett

Photo: people from Kurya Ndiko Uku welcoming us with dance (photo by Progressio ICS Project Officer Cecilia Rose)