Location: BRISTOL / MALAWI
Mission: TO DEVELOP SELF-SUFFICIENT COMMUNITIES BY SUPPORTING PROJECTS IN EDUCATION, HEALTH, AGRI-FORESTRY AND MICRO-FINANCE.
This weekend I undertook one of my biggest personal challenges yet as I’d signed up to do a charity bike ride for Temwa. Just after the bike ride I wrote a short feature to encourage my wonderful Spiralling supporters to donate towards my fundraiser, which totalled £413! I never imagined that I would be able to cycle two-thirds of the route we did when I saw the initial hill! I completed the first day of the weekend but sadly had to drop out due to a suspected bit of ligament damage in my knee. It was really gutting because physically and mentally other than that I was prepared to finish the route.
I managed to catch up with Katie Ryan who has been working for Temwa as their Events & Marketing Coordinator for nearly a year. She has over seven years experience in fundraising, events management and marketing for the not-for-profit sector. “Temwa was founded in 2003 by two Bristol locals, Jo Hook and Sophie Guise. Over the years Temwa has charmed and cajoled Bristolians to promote, support and attend fundraising events in aid of various projects in Malawi. The support shown by the local community of Bristol is a testament to the energy and commitment of the city to have a positive effect on people’s lives beyond the city limit. I have been amazed at how much the local community of Bristol really supports the communities in northern Malawi that Temwa serves, it’s so humbling and inspiring. It’s been wonderful getting to meet Temwa’s community of volunteers, interns, fundraisers, musicians and artists.”
Temwa works with communities from the Nkhata Bay North District, an extremely remote area of northern Malawi. In 2014, The World Bank listed Malawi as the poorest country in the world. Over 40% of the community live on less than £1 a day, 16% are HIV positive and a third do not have enough food on a daily basis. These isolated communities live with limited electricity, no running water and high levels of HIV and AIDS. The Malawian government has admitted that these people’s needs are being neglected. This region has 89 villages with a combined population of around 39,000. Most of these villages are situated in a large, flat area beside the lakeshore, with a few located in the upland mountain range.
The daily problems that the people of Nkhata Bay North face are:
• A chronic shortage of food, often with periods of starvation
• High rates of HIV and AIDS
• Limited access to basic education
• Deforestation, which causes flooding and displacement
• The one hospital in the region lacks fundamental equipment, staff and medicine
• There are no roads – people walk everywhere or travel by boat
• There are minimal opportunities for employment
The money Temwa receives supports people in remote, rural areas of northern Malawi, now the poorest country in the world. Temwa’s work covers projects in five key areas: health education, schools support, forestry, agriculture and microfinance. “This work supports some of the most vulnerable households in the region. These include households headed by a female or child, those hosting one or more orphans, and those with a member who is HIV positive. They train villagers to grow a variety of vegetables and fruit to improve their nutritional intake; plant trees to combat the devastating effects of deforestation, run HIV testing clinics and work to combat the associated stigma and fund students through their secondary school education as well as so much more. Crucially, these projects are driven by the communities we serve: we believe they must remain at the centre of all that we do. Therefore, all of the decisions and project developments are led by the communities. We aim to provide the resources to enable people to lift themselves out of poverty and create lasting change for their own future.”
Much of Southern Africa is gripped by a terrible and worsening food crisis. It has recently been reported by the UN that over 30 million people are already relying on food aid alone, and this figure is expected to grow. From South Africa to the Congo, Mozambique to Angola, the entire region is in a state of emergency- a fact largely, and shamefully, ignored by the vast majority of the international media. After successive years of drought crop yields have plummeted in Malawi and food reserves have disappeared and the rains have failed again. Child malnutrition is already reaching epidemic levels and the cost of food staples is spiralling. In April, after months of burying heads in the sand, the government finally declared a National State of Disaster. “Temwa has been shouting about the food crisis for months and is currently implementing an emergency food distribution intervention. We are also developing mitigation strategies to support our communities against the ever more frequent droughts and floods that undermine the food security of the community.”
Katie told me about one of Jo’s proudest moments at Temwa, “When they were building the first community centre in Malawi in 2004, Jo met a 5 year old girl called Salomi who was crying because her mother was dying. Years later, Jo met Salomi again, now a teenager who was in form 3 of secondary school in Usisya. Her grandfather was able to support her through a microfinance loan that had been provided by Temwa, which helped him set up and run a grocery store. Salomi now hopes to become a school teacher. It just shows that with small positive actions, they can ripple and affect people in so many ways.”
Temwa really needs your support to help us raise funds towards the food crisis in Malawi. “We have lots of fundraising events and sponsored challenges that are coming up where we need people to take part. Most participants have never done anything like this before, so if you fancy something new why not give it a go? If you or anyone you know might be interested in one of the events from walking, running, cycling, abseiling, or if you have an idea for an event please email me and let me know!” If I can do it, you can do it!