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Jesse Kilembe (woman) together with GVH Chiwelewele (black suit, red tie) and other Ilema VDC Members inspecting the clinic under construction with other members of Ilema VDC

“My role as VDC chair has been made easy by the support of my fellow women and the introduction of the Gender and Sensibilization Project by CCJP. We have made progress as we are currently implementing several community development projects under my leadership such as the construction of a clinic and nursery schools here in Ilema to reduce the distances women and children travel to access healthcare and education services”, says Jesse Kilembe who is the chairperson for Ilema VDC.

Under Jesse’s leadership, Ilema VDC is also constructing an Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation warehouse together with neighbouring Mubanga VDC to deal with the problem of travelling long distances to Lufita to access ADMARC services. “The funds used for all the developmental activities are sourced from the community and as a committee, we make decisions on what developments to make within our community”, says Jesse.

The clinic under construction in Ilema.

“There is a huge difference in the way things are being done in the community if we compare between the times we had a male chairperson and now when we have a female Village Development Committee chairperson”, says Yasaba N’gambi who is Group Village Head Chiwelewele and also serves as the patron for Ilema Village Development Committee.

The ADMARC warehouse under construction by Ilema and Mubanga VDC’s.

“Women are more transparent in their dealings and have the best interests of the community at heart and as a result of this, our families and community has seen a great improvement since the implementation of this project. We are encouraging active participation of women in our community projects” GVH Chiwelewele further states.

Jesse Kilembe (encircled) standing next to GVH Chiwelewele (black suit, red tie) with some of Ilema VDC Committee Members in from the the clinic that is under construction.

Ilema Village Development Committee as a whole is a participant in the Gender Sensibilisation and Safeguarding Project which Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace Karonga Diocese Desk is carrying out in Chitipa District since 2022 with support from MISEREOR and the Diocese of Munster in Germany of which one of the goals is to increase participatory decision making between men and women at both household and community level.

One of the nursery schools that have been constructed by Ilema VDC.

The story of Ilema VDC serves as an inspiring example of how empowering women in leadership positions can lead to meaningful progress. Through community-driven initiatives and a commitment to gender equality, Jesse Kilembe and the Ilema VDC are shaping a brighter future for their community.

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