DAPP Malawi 20 years later

It has been two decades since Development Aid from People to People (DAPP ) a locally based NGO – rolled out in Malawi with the aim of promoting social and economic development in the country. At the mention of Development Aid from People to People; the immediate thing that comes to people’s mind is that of an organization best known for selling of second hand clothes.

DAPP - People to people help

DAPP – People to people help

DAPP gardening project

DAPP gardening project

As DAPP Malawi Country Director, Lisbeth Thomsen puts it, the organization embarked on its journey as a second hand clothes seller in Blantyre in 1995 with the aim of raising resources to help reduce poverty especially in the rural communities through the establishment of programs within Education, Food Security, Agriculture & Environment, and Community Development (Child Aid).

“DAPP came to Malawi just after the introduction of democracy, when there was a vast need for capacity building especially in the rural areas. DAPP Malawi therefore joined hands with the government in its effort in improving lives of the Malawian People,” says the country director.

Chiradzulu district in the southern region was lucky to have been the first beneficiary of the organization’s projects with a children’s house constructed at Chikankheni Primary School which acted as a focal point for children and youth in the implementation of its first ever DAPP program in
Malawi called “Child Aid”.

The Child Aid program aims at empowering families on how to improve their own living conditions and also training in all issues surrounding a child’s well-being such as food and nutrition, good sanitation & hygiene, education and prevention of common diseases among others.

Today, the Child Aid project has reached close to 50,000 families in various districts including Chiradzulu, Thyolo, Nsanje and Lilongwe.

“The people in the community, where the DAPP Child Aid Project has been implemented, were very happy with the program, as it built their individual and collective capacity to take actions and through the program they could see that by learning and getting the knowledge on how to take better care of their children they were able to prevent them from getting sick and dying,” Thomsen narrates.

The second project DAPP started was the DAPP Mikolongwe Vocactional Vocational School, which is situated in Chiradzulu District.

Since 1997 more than 7000 youth have been trained in various skills at the DAPP Mikolongwe Vocational School since its inception in 1997 – some of them at the school campus and some of them through training in the communities. The school is today offering 10 difference courses in various skills such as community development, financial accounting, WASH & Plumbing Technician,
Tailoring, Welding & Fabrication, Carpentry & Joinery, Bricklaying and Plastering, Agriculture and is about to start a “Tailoring, Fashion and Design Course.”

Education is another key is an area of focus for DAPP. The organization has been working  towards closing teacher-to-pupil ratio in primary schools among other sectors.

Currently, statistics show that teacher-pupil ratio is 1:69, a situation education analysts have described as unhealthy for the development of education in the country.

With first teacher training college opened in the outskirts of Blantyre in 2003, Development Aid from People to People (DAPP ) with financial assistance from the Government of Finland, US Government, UK Aid, aEU, and AusAid has further established three other training colleges in Thyolo, Dowa and Mzimba with over 1,500 primary school teachers already trained.

Funanse Loti, 14, from Chidya Village, Traditional Authority Kalolo in the capital city, Lilongwe, would have been married now despite her tender age.

In 2011, out of poverty and lack of parental care, Funanse decided to drop out of school while in standard four at Chatsala Primary School in the same district.

“Because I lacked most basic needs, I decided to drop out of school and my mother supported the idea. After that, I was just staying home and the only option was to get married,” she innocently explains.

Funanse is just one of the 11 girls at Chatsala who are now back in class after they dropped out, thanks to efforts from Agnes Chipamba, a DAPP trained teacher.

Today, Chatsala has high enrolment of girls owed to Agnes’ efforts and passion for her work.

Agness Chipamba is one of the hundreds of primary school teachers that have been nurtured through teacher training colleges established by Development Aid from People to People (DaAPP ), an NGO that has been working in Malawi for 20 years now.

She added, “Many children also joined the pre-schools and it was clear to see that those children who had attended the preschool program did much better in standard one than those who had not been part of the preschool program.”

The DAPP teachers are specifically trained to become teachers in the rural primary schools and to make a difference by being committed to do what it takes to make the children learn – despite the huge challenges which exist in the schools such as lack of text books, school desk, overcrowded class room etc.

They are also trained to spearhed community development around the primary school and to create a strong link between the  school and the community said Lisbeth Thomsen

One notable difference these teachers are highly cherished for in the communities they teach is their efforts to get back girls who had dropped out of school back to the classroom.

Lisbeth Thomsen Head teacher for Chatsala Primary School in Lilongwe, Levious Machisawo is equally dazzled at DAPP trained teachers’ approach to work which he describes as amazing and inspiring not only to children but also to other teachers and the community.

Memory Landani, from Chimoto Village, Traditional Authority Katunga in Chikhwawa district is one other woman who has inspiring stories of how DAPP transformed her family rescuing her out of dire poverty. In her own words, Landani’s family was poor with no hope at the end of the tunnel. The family did not have enough to feed itself.

“Our total annual harvests were not that good and personally I had no idea of how I could start and manage a small business. Life was tough then,” She explains.

Born in 1983 and a mother of three, Landani is today one of the few women who are a source of inspiration to Chimoto Village. From a poor helpless woman, now she owns a shop, goats and a good 3 bedroom house which she claims her whole family is happy with.

“My life has completely changed. After joining the women farmers club- a program implemented by DAPP, my annual harvests picked up. I also joined village banking and this year I received MK68,000 which was used to buy goats. I am really grateful to DAPP ,” she says.

Esther Mkova is another member of Tikondane Women Farmers Club who is all smiles owing to the Village Savings and Loans otherwise known as ‘Banki mkhonde’ which the group decided to establish after receiving training from DAPP.

“I first got a loan of MK100,000.00 from the group and bought cattle for resale. I earned a profit of MK20,000.00 and I did that for three times. I have now realized enough profit and I want to invest in dairy animals. Without DAPP I was nobody. I am now a proud mother who is able to support
her family,” she says.

DAPP is supporting women through “Farmer clubs project” and through these famer clubs women have formed village saving groups which offer soft loans to club members for small and medium enterprises.
According to Lisbeth Thomsen over the past 20 years, the organization has managed to put together and train more than 61,000 small scale farmers who are organized into farmers clubs.

“Currently 18,000 farmers are taking part in Farmers Clubs program in Chiradzulu, Chikhwawa, Mwanza, Balaka, Neno, Machinga, Mangochi and Dowa Districts and another 6,000 farmers are about to start up farmers clubs,” disclosed the country director.

DAPP is also working in the area of Health and has reached more then 1,4 million Malawians with community mobilisaition, information and behavioral change intervention about how to prevent  the spread with HIV and AIDS through the door to door program call Total Control of the Epidemic – TCE.

Today DAPP is implementing two TB programs with the aim of combating TB and providing care and support to those already infected in Thyolo and Chiradzulu Districts.

DAPP started its journey by selling second hand clothes as a way of raising funds for development projects and today stands to be one of the biggest local NGOs in Malawi with more than 900 staff – implementing programs within teacher education, agriculture and food security, environment, health and community development.

Many local and international partners have and are supporting the programs which DAPP is implementing and in this way supporting the scale up of the programs.

Currently, the organization has programs in districts like Nsanje, Chikhwawa, Thyolo, Mulanje, Blantyre, Chiradzulu, Mwanza, Neno, Balaka, Machinga, Dowa and Mzimba.

DAPP thank the Government of Malawi as well as all its local and international partners who have contributed to the programs over the years and to congratulate everybody but first and foremost all the beneficiaries for the results they have achieved through their active participation in the programs.

DAPP looks  forward to continue working together with the People of Malawi in achieving a better life for the people most in need, the country director concludes.

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