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Archives March 2020

Grace Mkandawire stand on her maize field intercropped with NUA beans
Elderly Woman Celebrates New High Yielding Bean Variety (NUA 45)

By Jimmy Mgamba

Grace Mkandawire of Hanania Village aged 64 is an old woman living with her husband Steven Usipa aged 69. God blessed them with 4 children and 5 grand children (M3, F6) and their 3 daughters were married but returned home, to live with them, when their marriages failed. Both hail from the same village, Hanania, Traditional Authority Kachulu.

Grace Kandawire and Steven Usipa are participants in (Access plus) A+ Project which started in October, 2019 and fall under a criterion of elderly people. The couple is among elderly families living in Hanania Village. Grace and her husband depend on farming for their own and livelihood of their daughters and five grandchildren.

In spite of their old age, Grace and Steven attended almost all training sessions organized by the project. In that way, the project assisted them with 2 kilograms of new variety of beans, known as NUA 45, which they planted in December, 2019. Grace intercropped the beans with maize and planted on an acre of land. The family grows other crops such as Cassava, Sweet potatoes.

Grace Mkandawire thanks the project for coming with such initiative of supporting farmers with certified seeds which have approved already high yield. This was the first time for the family to grow high yield variety of beans which matures in 60 days. From the 2 kilograms of NUA beans she planted, Grace expects to get between 80 and 120 kilogrammes of beans. The family plans to plant more beans during winter cropping for food and commercial purposes.


“Relish will not be a challenge any more this year since we will have lots of beans,” said grace.

A+ Project, under the Development Desk of the Diocese of Karonga, gives hope to more families, like that of Grace Mkandawire, who have seen the goodness of planting certified seed and follow instructions from field officers.

The project procured NUA 45 bean seed to support such old vulnerable families who are also keeping grand children and orphans in their homes. Grace actively participates in all the interventions being implemented in the area by the Diocese of Karonga, namely; irrigation, livestock pass on, village saving and loans (VSL) and Conservation Agriculture (CA) just to mention a few.

Grace Mkandawire hails A+ Project for applying this approach, known as Strength Based Approach which really will change the mindset of their fellow farmers in the community who fix their mind on handouts unlike putting their energy and efforts on crop production.

Steven Usipa, the husband to Grace, also belongs to a group called Tiwonge Village Savings and Loan group which has 26 members (5 males and 26 females). The grouping was established by the A+ Project in March, 2019.

The Karonga Diocese – development desk with funding from Caritas Australia is implementing a 3 year A+ project within Traditional Authority Kachulu and Mwalweni in Nchenachena Extension Area, Rumphi District.

Girls enjoying their porridge
Isn’t this how Gender Inequality Begins?

By Violet Machika

I watched the children stand in line as they received porridge as it is part of the school feeding programs where the community has to organize itself, or if lucky, they’re receiving porridge flour to feed the little ones with the assumption that children either don’t have food in their homes or part of lifting the parent’s responsibility. We will talk about that in the future.

Today, I want to share with you about something I found interesting during my visit to Kasitu Primary School, in Kapoka, being one of the areas the Justice and Peace Desk is implementing Safeguarding the Rights of Women and Children with support from Misereor Germany.

Boys enjoying their porridge
Boys enjoying their porridge

I observed that children could go and sit down according to their sexes once they received their porridge. Boys made their own circle and so did the girls. It is this that has inspired me to write this piece. I asked myself, ‘who told them to sit according to their sexes?’ If it is the teachers or the parents what was the reasoning behind this arrangement? Are boys and girls different? Or, perhaps, just like I was told by my grandmother when I was young, “Boys bite! Always stay away from them”?

What baffles me is that we speak of gender equality and gender mainstreaming, We preach of the holistic approach in promoting the rights of the child, now, how do we implement the same when society, teachers, parents are already planting in the minds of girls and boys that they are not equal? What is it that the said people are telling our young ones when we’re not listening?

With that, I decided to enjoy the porridge and take a few selfies. Maybe we should start diverting towards mindset empowerment, mindset change or what suits. Because this is still nurturing problems we will seek to address 20 years from now.

Ready to serve: Catholic Scouts at Karonga District Hospital
Catholic Scouts Cheer the Sick at Karonga District Hospital

By Deodatus Muriya (Scout Coordinator)

The Catholic Scouts of St Joseph the Worker Cathedral and St Mary’s parishes in the Diocese of Karonga on 3rd March, 2020 donated assorted items (sugar, sweets, and washing soap) in the Children’s Ward at the Karonga District Hospital.

This was one way of celebrating the birthday of the founder of Scouts, Robert Barden Powell, which falls on 22nd February.

“We found it necessary to visit the hospital to interact with patients and also share with them the message of hope” Said Miss Evelyn Kamanga, Treasurer for St Joseph and St Mary’s parishes Catholic Scout Group.

She further said that the resources for the donation were mobilized among members of the grouping. She pledged the group’s commitment to continue carrying out charity work.

Speaking on behalf of fellow guardians, Margret Namfukwe expressed a word of gratitude to the group for providing support to their children who were sick.

The Nurse in Charge of the Children’s Ward Sangwani Kondowe also thanked the Catholic Scouts for visiting the Children ward.

“In hospital we receive different patients with different background. Some come without beddings and others do not have food. We are encouraging Catholic Scouts to continue doing the good work they have started.

Group of workshop participants and facilitators
Champions of Change Facilitators and Mentors Challenged to Promote Gender Justice

By Lestina Sanga

Gender Expert, Dr. Mary Shaba, has urged facilitators and mentors of Champions of Change (COC) Project to champion gender justice in order to reduce gender based violence (GBV) in the area of Traditional Authority Kilupula.

Dr Mary Shaba facilitating on gender issues

Dr. Mary Shaba was speaking during a training session of facilitators and mentors where she emphasized that rigid gender roles and stereotypes, much as they seem beneficial to men and boys, create violent men and boys who cannot create a healthy relationship. This, she said, leads to high prevalence rates of violence in communities.

The training, which took place from 17 to 21 February, 2020 at Mwenitete TDC Hall, was organized by the Justice and Peace Desk of the Diocese of Karonga under the Tithese Nkhanza, Champions of Change Project (COC). The training aimed at equipping facilitators and mentors with relevant knowledge, skills and attitudes on the subject matter as well as methods of instruction.

The project aims at transforming social norms and attitudes in the area of T/A Kilupula so as to reduce the prevalence of gender based violence. Under the project, facilitators will be holding weekly training sessions on gender equality, reducing GBV and social inclusion with adolescent boys and girls who are in school and out of school clubs.

On their part, the participants hailed the training session and expressed hope that the weekly training sessions they will be conducting will help change attitudes of boys and girls towards gender equality and reduce gender based violence in the long run.

The District Coordinator for Tithese Nkhanza, Atusaye Nyondo, urged the facilitators and mentors to stay committed in changing attitudes of adolescent boys and girls in their communities so as to reduce the prevalence of gender inequality and gender based violence (GBV).

In its initial stages, the project is targeting eight schools in the area of Traditional Authority Kilupula. The participating schools are Mbamba, Kakoma, Kasantha, Mwaulambo, Chisi, Ndemange, and Kakolya primary schools and Wilole Secondary School.

A+ Project Officer Martin Manda speaking during the event
Communities Encouraged to Protect Trees from Wild Fire

By Grace Mphwere Mvoso

Community members in the area of Traditional Authority (TA) Mwalweni in Rumphi District have been urged to adopt the culture of planting trees around their homes as one way of replenishing trees that have been depleted over the years.

The A+ Project Officer Martin Manda made the remarks on Saturday at Luwendera Primary School during the launch of the 2020 tree planting exercise aimed at controlling the flow of water to check soil erosion.

“We decided to come here because Rumphi is one of disaster prone areas in the country. We believe that these trees will provide ground cover and reduce the velocity of water,” Manda said.

TA Mwalweni (in red) planting a tree with the help of District Forestry Officer

Manda further pleaded with the traditional leaders to properly allocate land for farming and settlement to their subjects in well designated areas to avoid constructing houses along river banks.

Speaking on behalf traditional leaders, TA Mwalweni said he is happy that this initiative is taking place in his area and has since advised pupils and the community around the school to take care of the planted trees.

Taking her turn, Masida Chibaka, a Standard 6 pupil at the school said the trees planted near her school will help to protect her school from heavy winds. She also said she will take care of the trees by clearing the area around the trees.

However, the District Forestry Officer Gift Nyirenda said Rumphi District is one of the districts that has planted a lot of trees but a lot have failed to grow due to poor management.

“One of the factors that has contributed to the dying of trees is wild fire in the dry months of September, October and November. Therefore, I appeal to the whole community develop a spirit of ownership to protect the trees from wild fire and livestock”, he said.

The Development Desk of the Diocese of Karonga is facilitating the planting of 3,500 trees during this national forestry season in Rumphi District under the A+ Project with financial assistance from Caritas Australia.