Participating in a program to empower village women is one of my favorite experiences. The team has been training the farmer families on improving their skills and their crop yields have increased significantly. Now that they have more than enough to feed their families they have started a next step program – empowering the women to start their own businesses.
Malawian village receptions never get old. Being greeted by a group of women to welcome guests by singing and dancing.
We gathered under some large trees and heard messages from the local chief. He shared his appreciation for us visiting and for the team who has been coaching them. He shared how much the teachings have improved the lives of the people in the village. He also shared that other nearby villages are seeking advice from them. He also spoke to the village women encouraging them to share their “truth” with us during our discussion. He then said all of the men had been directed to stay away from the area so that the women would feel more comfortable about sharing with us.
The words they shared included many trials and also a desire to do more. They shared that some of the challenges were abuse from their husbands. Some of their husbands were drinking alcohol and spending time away from the family. Others were trying to limit what their wives could earn and taking all of the money from their harvests and not leaving any of it for the women (who do most of the work). This creates problems because although they have their crops and gardens, they do not have money to by soap or other necessities for the family. Some of them shared that their husbands feared that if the women became empowered that the women would go find new husbands.
The organization had already met with them prior to our visit with instructions for their first assignment…form groups of 10-12 women and decide what type of business they would want to start. One group chose selling farm vegetables, another was selling eggs, another was selling chickens. Each group of women would work together, and as they earned money, they would add to their business until the point that they could be successful enough to use some of the money for the things that they would each need.
After sharing their challenges, they shared their business ideas and their initial strategies. The team will follow up again with them next month to see how they are all doing
After seeing their gardens, hearing their stories, we were dancing with the women. They love to watch this American girl struggle with learning to do it properly, and then get so excited when I finally get it right. I love the strength of these Malawian women. They are inspiring. They are resilient. They are strong. They are grateful. They are filled with hope and unwavering faith in God.
THIS is my happy place!!! Seeing their hard work continue to improve their lives, health, education and families by following the teachings of this incredible team. These families are still eating well, when in many parts, they are going through very tough times. The things they have been taught are making a difference. Malawi needs more of this!!! Once your heart has been in Malawi, it never really goes home.❤️❤️❤️❤️
I have so much to learn.