03 May Tea anyone?
By Martin Smedley, CEO
Anna told me that Malawi is well known for tea growing and since Act4africa came to her village she has benefitted by being able to invest in new premises. Before she had 15 – 20 customers per day. Since joining an Act4Africa HEAL, (health, enterprise and livelihoods) women’s support group she now has 50 -100 customers per day and has been able to move to new premises nearer the main road with more footfall.
Anna is one of the young women benefitting from our current, pilot, HEAL project near Lilongwe. During my recent visit I was able to visit nearly 10 of the women’s groups we have set up over the past year. In total we are currently running over 25 women’s village groups who meet regularly to learn about health and gender issues and to support each other in savings and loans schemes for small business. Each group has over 20 women and they were all delighted to tell me about their small business developments. Helena told us that she can now buy soap and uniforms for her children. Her family is no longer hungry and can afford more nutritious food, not just the basic maize flour they have been subsisting on.
Evidence of malnutrition in the small children was evident in these villages and many of the them were poorly dressed. What shocked me most however was the lack of even basic education. In one group out of 35 women, only 8 had benefited from primary education. We are hopeful that we can gain funding to roll out the HEAL concept in many more villages and see many more women and their families lives changed for the better.