Founder and chairperson of Budala Women’s Group in Machinga, Ella Zande, on Monday returned from the United States of America (USA) where she represented 65 countries at the launch of the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Programme.
Whilst in the US, Zande visited the White House where she met US President Donald Trump and other key stakeholders to discuss the future of women’s empowerment through her group, which receives support from the Peace Corps Volunteers.
And speaking in an interview with Nyasa Times in Lilongwe, the volunteer from Traditional Authority (T/A) Chamba in Machinga, said she seized the opportunity to highlight some of the challenges local women face in their pursuit for socioeconomic independence.
“In my speech at the meeting, I shared with President Trump and other delegates our dedication to women’s economic empowerment and to improving our community.
“They were very keen to hear from me and the initiatives we are implementing to improve economic livelihood of women in Machinga and beyond.
“President Trump himself encouraged us, women, to work hard to claim economic freedom,” said Zande.
Peace Corps Volunteers in Malawi country director Carol Spahn said 65-member Budala Women’s Group is a beneficiary of a number of lessons from the volunteers who have been working in Machinga since 2011.
Said Spahn: “She was chosen to represent her group after a video that was done showcasing their projects won the favour of those that reviewed videos from countries around the world where Peace Corps Volunteers go.”
She said Zande was the only Peace Corps volunteer around the world to represent Peace Corps because she has, over the years, demonstrated her resoluteness towards improving the economic wellbeing of women.
Spahn disclosed that her organisation feels proud and impressed that although Budala Women’s Group may no longer have Peace Corps support, but their members continue to prosper through their businesses and give back to create a stronger community.
Beginning with 10 members, Budala Women’s Group now boasts of 65 motivated and hardworking women, representing three villages.
Through the assistance of four Peace Corps Volunteers as well as USAID-funded grants, their business endeavors expanded to include baked goods, honey from 120 beehives, and fish from two ponds that they constructed.
Members of Budala have returned their profits to their community by constructing a nursery school that serves 56 children.
Additionally, they have planted 54,000 trees to reforest their community. The Budala Women’s Group also promotes fuel efficiency by teaching others how to make briquettes and improved cook-stoves.
Each member owns a kitchen garden at her home providing improved food security and nutrition for her family.
In her remarks at the Oval Office, Trump’s special assistant Ivanka Trump said the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative seeks to help over 50 million women from developing countries by 2025.
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