VP Listens to Success Stories from Champiti Epicenter in Malawi

VP Dr Dicko in Malawi.JPG

On a recent trip to Malawi, The Hunger Project’s (THP’s) Vice President of Africa Programs, Dr. Idrissa Dicko, met with local staff and visited Champiti Epicenter in southern Malawi, near Balaka. Champiti is in the third phase of the Epicenter Strategy.

During his visit, Dr. Dicko had the opportunity to witness current programmatic successes firsthand and meet with partners from three households: one benefiting from a loan to purchase pigs; one that has received a loan in the form of fertilizer; and one in which both parents are publicly HIV positive.

In the first household, THP partners accessed a revolving loan in the form of three pigs. Six of the resulting piglets were given to two other households, passing individual success on to the community. The value of this exponential growth suggests that it may be a method worth pursuing in other THP-Africa Program Countries.

The second household accessed a 50-kilo sack of fertilizer and five kilograms of hybrid maize seed as credit. The partners plan to repay this credit to the Champiti Epicenter food bank at harvest time in the form of three 50-kilo sacks of corn as a contribution to the community’s food security. They have earned a large profit thanks to the credit and, for two years, have seen increases in yields moving from 30 to 90 sacks of 50 kilos each per hectare.

The third couple, both of whom are publicly HIV positive, is inspirational in their courage. Both feel that, through the epicenter community, they have been able to demonstrate how being HIV positive does not necessarily mean marginalization and that it is possible to remain productive within the community. They thanked THP-Malawi for its continuous work and support of HIV-positive individuals in the form of awareness building and a specific Microfinance Program for HIV-positive people. The Malawian government has also recognized THP-Malawi’s efforts and recently begun providing free antiretroviral treatments at the epicenter.

Overall, Champiti Epicenter is particularly promising in the immense number of individuals who travel to utilize the epicenter, including traditional leaders and local government officials. The epicenter’s infrastructure embodies every aspect of the Epicenter Strategy, which seeks to facilitate clusters of rural villages where women and men are mobilized to create and run their own programs to meet basic needs. The epicenter’s exceptional maternity clinic is particularly worth noting, as it boasts a comparatively large size, with 11 health professionals, a stock of medicine and valuable equipment all provided thanks to a partnership with the Malawian government.

Dr. Dicko’s March 2011 Champiti Epicenter visit was marked by an awards ceremony of 77 newly graduated literacy students, including 75 women and two men. It was a key moment to congratulate the women on their commitment, as well as to state the case, for the men, that education is a crucial beginning for development.

The epicenter’s newest developments include plans for the improvement of the primary school, both in terms of infrastructure and meal plans.

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