Cadecom economically empowering communities in Mwanza

Catholic Development Commission (Cadecom), one of the Catholic Church’s development arm in Malawi, is economically empowering village communities in Tradional Authority Kanduku in Mwanza District by offering them special skills to venture into profitable businesses such as bakery, goat rearing, village banking, vegetable gardening and winter cropping and wine making.

Martins (in hat) meets community peer parents at Mwembezi Primary School

The wine made from yeast, sugar, raisins and bananas

The project, named Integrated Community Development A-Plus — done in total corraboration with chiefs — also teaches the people to be strict in observing safe water and household sanitation hygiene as well as gender equality, adult literacy, re-afforestation, community based child care (nursery schools) and discouragement of early marriages amongst youths, especially girls.

Donors for the project, Caritas Australia (a worldwide version of Cadecom), sent their Programme Conductor for Africa, Scott Martins, for him to appreciate what was on the ground and report to headquarters.

Martins told the gatherings at three selected villages he was taken to that he was immensely impressed with the positive attitude in which the people embraced Cadecom’s project where the villagers use the resources that are locally available to economically empower themselves.

“I have learnt a lot here that one should not focus on what they do not have but what you have and utilise it to the fullest,” he told the people. “You have taught me that nobody is totally poor but they have something which if shared with what others have can change your lives.”

The first site visit was at Mwembezi Primary School where Cadecom helped build latrines and sent officers to train the pupils on healthy sanitation and also mobilised elderly women to encourage girls to concentrate on school and not allow themselves to be forced into early marriages.

The women group had a special caucus with Martins in which they outlined their success where they intervened in bringing back girls into school upon giving birth to babies following unplanned pregnancies.

At Kaulemu Village, Martins was also told by the women themselves that they have a club in which they ŕemind themselves on gender equality where they inspire their spouses to work hand in hand in order to economically improve their lives.

This is a village that makes wines to deter the men from drinking locally brewed liquor called Kachasu which made the men lazy from attending to their agricultural obligations.

At Ziyenderana Village, they bake bread, scones, doughnuts and they also make coffee from Soya beans that smells and tastes as coffee. And they also prepare juice which they call Soya Milk.

The village folk told Martins that they do not profit much from Soya because where they can sell is too far away and that buyers who come over usually offer too little for the produce.

“But we are grateful that Cadecom has taught us how we can make good use of Soya ourselves and this juice is very nutritional and is loved by every one,” said one of  women representatives.

Diocesan Cadecom secretary Mandinda Zungu said they distributed 200 goats to the people on a pass on system scheme in which the  offspring should be passed to another family and so on.

Zungu said they chose goats because they are disease resistant, easy to breed and that their droppings are also converted into manure.

The people themselves explained that they mix 10kgs of the goat droppings with 5kgs each of maize husks and fertilizer which can cover over a hectare of maize garden.

Where Cadecom supplied a borehole, the village folks created a vegetable garden for their household use and also to nurture tree seedlings to re-afforest their woodlots and forests.

Zungu said they also encourage the communities for adult literacy and work towards stopping human trafficking to neighbouring Mozambique by offering vocational skills to the unemployed youths in order to sustain themselves.

Cadecom also initiated an education programme in Phalombe aimed at integrating children with disabilities into public schools rather than getting them into their special institutions.

Called ‘Inclusive Education’, the initiative is being practised in 21 schools which have special teachers in sign language, others teaching vision impared kids and others with skills in teaching slow learners.

Also included in the programme is to encourage expectant mothers to seriously attend antenatal sessions where they are taught how  kids sometimes are born with disabilities because there are certain procedures the mothers did not follow during pregnancy such as healthy dieting.

This project aims at preventing the development of and the early diagnosis of disabilities on the expectant mothers during antenatal sessions.

The programme is being executed in partnership with South Africa-based Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) and its Education Programme Manager Velaphi Mamba paid a courtesy visit to Malawi in April where he was taken to Phalombe to sample for himself how the initiative is working just ĺike  has been done with Martins.

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