Thursday, 8 December 2016

This is Grace. She is 15 years old and she is super SMART!

Grace was recently selected to one of Blantyre's top District Boarding schools (Lunzu Secondary School), which deserves a shout out. To have some perspective, only two young people this year were selected to Lunzu from across Joshua's impact areas – more than 40 villages serving around 12,000 children. Grace beat a lot of odds to make it this far and we are going to be with her for the next four years, supporting her to break the bonds that girls across Malawi experience every day of their lives. Bonds like lack of quality education and female role models, a complete lack of knowledge around managing periods and puberty, having enough food to eat, freedom to walk to school without fear of sexual harassment, to name just a few.

Grace lives in Solomoni Village, among a cluster of rural villages 15kms down a dusty and pot-filled road past Blantyre's Chileka airport. Her home is typical of the village – a grass roof that leaks in the rainy season atop of mud brick walls full of potential for collapse at any moment. There is no electricity, people get by with candles and small torches and water is fetched from a borehole (long walk, heavy buckets, hours wasted standing, queuing, waiting). Unlike a lot of her friends, Grace lives with both her parents, who farm and do small piece works to provide for the family. It is backbreaking work and it never produces enough.  Across Blantyre and Malawi, this is just peoples daily reality.  



Joshua helps young girls like Grace with school fees, uniform, stationery and other essentials. Since 2015, we have been running SMART mentoring alongside sponsorship – an essential component for boosting student confidence and critical engagement with their education. It is not common practice in Malawi for young people to be asked to evaluate themselves, to think about their strengths and weaknesses and map out ways to maximize their opportunity for education. SMART mentoring gives students one-to-one SMART goal setting support. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely. Students are also encouraged to study together and join after-school clubs such as Mathematics club, English club and Library club. At boarding school this is particularly encouraged as students have more time for studies, without the stress of walking long distances to school, caring for siblings and doing chores and paid works. We have seen a marked improvement in results and confidence among students since introducing SMART objectives.


Too many times we hear a student say, 'my dream is to become a doctor' and yet they have no real idea of the hurdles they need to overcome to get there and there are so many other obstacles out of their control that they must contend with, even if they themselves do have what it takes.  Sadly for most, these ambitions are little more than pipe dreams as the vast majority of students will return to the village, to farming or to other low income work.  But at Joshua we do not accept that it has to be like this - so we will invest in Grace and others like her, we will push her from the wings to put in all her effort, so that she can dream big and make it.

To sponsor student education through Joshua, get in touch via joccmalawi@gmail.com or visit our website - www.joshuainmalawi@gmail.com 

Thursday, 4 February 2016

One thing that makes Joshua great - Our Field Officers


As a grassroots organisation with deep roots in our communities, JOCC Field Officers are people who have grown up in the villages our projects serve and most live there to this day.  They are the eyes and ears on the ground, ensuring all projects are community driven based on real need.  They are troopers - they walk sometimes 5 hours in a day, from home to a project, to the office and back to home.  Come rain or shine, they put in the work and help us to get results.  


Here is what Joseph has to say about his role and his time with Joshua:

"I first got involved with Joshua from my community in Pensulo village at the Joshua Secondary School.  I did my form 2 up to form 4 studies back in 2008.  When I got to the senior section I was appointed school prefect and after school hours on particular days in the week I would meet with my fellow youths for various activities.  This youth program was supported by Joshua organisation and some of the things we did included inter-youth sporting activities, environment activities like sensitizing communities about the effects of deforestation and HIV/AIDS awareness.  I also did a lot of volunteering at the Joshua- Pensulo health clinic when I finished my secondary school.  




I volunteered at the HIV and Malaria testing department where I was incharge of civic education.  Together with the youth group, I had my first opportunity of working with fellow young people from overseas who would come to our village through Joshua for various construction projects and other sporting games.  I enjoyed socializing with the overseas youths as it gave me an insight of English culture.  This experience opened up many opportunities in my life and allowed me to travel to many countries in the world leading leading other volunteer teams and expeditions.  I even got my foot into England where I attended training for overseas team leading with Joshua and Quest Overseas.  Currently, I am on a work contract with Joshua Orphan and Community Care working as a Field Officer linking Joshua with six villages across Blantyre Rural.


Joshua has made a huge impact in my life as to what I am today.  To be honest many of my friends and colleagues and my best memories and experiences, I have had through Joshua. My community - Pensulo is many times developed thanks to Joshua's non stop support to it, the health clinic, the various schools, the maize mill, all of these have improved our lives"
Joseph Chiedza, JOCC Field Officer








Wednesday, 14 October 2015

A solo volunteer's story


A solo volunteer's story...  

Written by Freddie Scott-Cracknell

Thank You To You All


For 28 days this summer I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to both observe and participate in the incredible work carried out by Joshua Orphan Care in the Southern region of Malawi. To support my work, I asked for a few small donations, with the target of £250 set for my trip. The overwhelming support given by so many people helped my trip to raise over £1273 (including gift aid) all of which has gone straight to Joshua and the projects that they support and run. To say thank you, I thought it may be of interest to share a few more details about the work that Joshua are carrying out and a story or two from my time out there!



On 17th August I flew out to Malawi for four weeks, with just my guitar and a smile (oh and 30kgs of luggage). In honesty, despite having been fortunate enough to travel a bit in the past and having done a fair amount of research, there is nothing that can really prepare you for visiting your first developing nation, and the extent to which poverty runs deep through Malawian society became quickly apparent on the drive from the airport to Blantyre, Malawi’s second city. As the third poorest nation on the Earth by GDP per capita, the work carried out by Joshua Orphan and Community Care in more than 10 different communities around Blantyre is essential in combatting issues ranging from vaccination to providing textbooks and feeding schoolchildren.


After a few days of adjustment in Blantyre, my first week in Chilaweni village arrived, and with 10 kilos of rice, a variety of vegetables and a pot of honey (home comforts) I headed out to spend my first week in the village with my colleague/guide/friend Jeston. Standing at the centre of the small collection of villages is the Chilaweni Primary School (below), which has been supported in a variety of funding by Joshua, and is run by Joshua Trustee and overwhelmingly friendly Mr. Thumba (also below). Providing primary school education to over one thousand students is no easy task, and seeing teachers take on the challenge of organising sometimes up to 100 students in a class only served to incre ased my  admiration for their work.






So with the first night of no electricity or running water smoothly out of the way, and a warm bucket shower to start the day, the first of three weeks of computer lessons began. Alongside my colleague Jeston Mesiala, we took on the challenge of running Joshua’s first ever computer class, and for every one of the students, their first ever look at a computer. This experience was of course challenging, particularly when the electricity in our class (the only place with electricity in Chilaweni) was out due to a power cut. However, by the end of three weeks of lessons the students were comfortable typing, formatting and navigating their way around Microsoft Word. Whilst at times computer classes may not seem a necessity, the chance to learn how to use Word allows students to truly mark themselves out and access job opportunities that they never would normally have. In addition, the students that have been taught now have the ability to pass on their skills, in the words of Mr. Thumba turning Chilaweni from ‘computer illiterate, to computer literate’.




The warmth and friendliness of everyone associated with Joshua was an essential part to my experience of Malawi, and despite being a solo volunteer, they ensured that I was comfortable whilst at the same time allowing me the freedom to get a true representation of Malawian life. Additionally, the freedom of the weekends allowed me to explore Malawi, visiting the Lake, climbing 2750m up Mount Mulanje and seeing hippos and elephants at the Majete National Reserve, all three of which I highly recommend to any future volunteer or travelers in Malawi.



To conclude, I just want to reiterate my gratefulness for the opportunity and the warm welcome extended to me by the entire staff of Joshua. In particular I would like to thank Sylvia Avgherinos, for helping to organise the trip, Gem Clark for keeping track of me while I was out there and most importantly Jeston Mesiala, who was a great translator and teacher, but more importantly a great friend from day one to day 29.



However, I have to finish by saying a huge thank you to all those who had the kindness to donate to the charity which made an absolutely incredible total of £1273 including gift aid, over five times the initial target. I was overwhelmed by the unbelievable support from family and friends but even more from many people who I’ve never had the chance to meet! All I can say is that I can personally guarantee that the money that has been so kindly donated will be vital in supporting the projects that Joshua works so tirelessly to support.


If you have any questions about Malawi, Joshua or just my trip in general please don’t hesitate to contact me at fscottcracknell@gmail.com.


For more information about Joshua please visit: http://joshuainmalawi.org.uk/ or email gem.joshuainmalawi@gmail.com 

Zikomo 

Friday, 5 June 2015

Celebrations in Tiamike!

The community of Tiamike has been under Joshua’s radar recently having heard rumors of them setting up their own sewing and carpentry workshops.  We quickly learned that these rumors were true; the community was renting sewing machines and had begun teaching themselves and one another within both skillsets. For three months we have been able to watch the community progress both with our help and now, using their own ideas and initiative.

Joshua decided to donate three sewing machines to the community and in recognition of this, the community put on a rather extravagant handing over ceremony to mark the occasion. 





The day was filled with celebrations of all sorts. There were speeches made by all the chiefs (of which there were four!) to express the meaning of the sewing machines and their thanks to Joshua, dancing and singing, and two dramas created by the communities to outline the social impact of the sewing machines to their lives. There was a huge emphasis on the empowerment of these people, especially women within the community; something that really touched my heart.





Tiamike is one of the poorer and more needy of the communities that we work with. Joshua has a long-standing partnership with Tiamike, having a few feeding centers in near-by proximity, a mobile health clinic for both children and adults and women’s health information meetings. For me, it was fantastic to see a community come together in celebration and to see the effect that just three sewing machines can have on their livelihoods but also to see how the community is growing within themselves with and without our help. This fills us and, we hope, them with hope for their futures. 


Monday, 1 June 2015

Manyowe kitty club meets for the first time.

Manyowe community held its first Kitty club on the Friday 22 May 2015. It was an extremely successful day. All in all sixty-seven over sixty-year-olds registered to take part in the club.
As this was the first kitty club held in Manyowe, firstly the participants had a ‘break the ice’ session to meet one another and then began to discuss in detail what they wanted to gain from the club and also what activities they would be doing in each meeting.





By the end of the day, with plenty of activities planned, Joe gave them the chance to feedback and make any suggestions. This is a really important aspect of the work we do at Joshua. We work with communities to impact on areas that they feel they need the most help in. It was decided that the kitty club would fit around those who attend Mosque for prayers so that more people would be able to make it to both. On the whole though, stakeholders commended what Joshua has started, caring for the old and providing them with a meal.

Joshua was also able to pass over two new relish pots to the Manyowe kitty club that should last them over two years. We hope this club grows, enabling the elderly within this community somewhere for a bit of relaxation and respite and also teaching us what the community needs in the bigger picture. 

Written by Joseph Chiundiza
Edited by Olivia Tilton

Friday, 29 May 2015

Jona's Success!

This week in the office we had an unexpected visitor. A sponsored student, Jona, had completed his tertiary education with good grades and had come to show his appreciation to Joshua for the years of help they had given him.

This is hugely exciting news to receive and a massive achievement for Jona. In Malawi, education is like gold dust with only 18% of the population reaching even secondary school, let alone tertiary. After writing a written exam and having an interview, Jona was accepted into the Combino Technical College to study in the Electrical and Installation Department. Within this he studied subjects such as Principles, Science, Technical Drawing, Technology and Calculations, as well as English Communications and Entrepreneurship. Alongside this, they are expected to complete three months in an industry placement. In his workshop practice he was awarded an A+ and is described as a "trustworthy, responsible, and reliable person" by his principle. Reading these reports, we were glowing with pride.

Joshua had been sponsoring Jona since secondary school, through which he gained his Malawi School Certificate of Education, all the way through to his college education.  It was his dream to become an electrical engineer throughout his education. He not only enjoyed it but has gained many skills meaning that he can stand on his own two feet and now sees a bright future for himself.

This is a huge achievement for Jona and brings so much joy to his life and to our office. In his own words, "I would like to thank the whole Joshua organisation for working hand in hand with me to reach this stage. I promise that I will make good use of this chance". We wish him all the luck in the world.




Friday, 22 May 2015

My Experience at the Solomoni Pop-up Clinic

Twice a week Jean, a qualified nurse who volunteers her service’s at Joshua, and one of our Field Officers go out into the communities Joshua support to run a pop-up medical clinic for mother’s to bring their young children and babies to. Here, the children are weighed, checked for illnesses or symptoms of, and provided with medical care and advice. This week, I had the privilege to join Jean and Joseph and what a touching experience it was.

Having travelled Africa widely on family holidays, I have seen the widespread effects of poverty. Or I thought I had. What I learnt yesterday was that I had only begun to skim the surface of what it means to live in poverty in Africa. Arriving Solomoni, there were queues of women with their children waiting for us; prepared to walk for miles and to wait for as long as it took to be seen by Jean. 




One by one, mothers, grandmothers, sisters and friends would bring in children and babies to be examined. I had the very important job of weighing the infants. This, I was told, was crucial in order to monitor the weight of the child over time, enabling Jean to assess whether the child was developing normally or was malnourished. The women then described to Jean, through Joseph, any symptoms the children had. Armed with a thermometer, a stethoscope and a box of medical supplies, Jean was able to give advice, treat any illnesses, or praise mother’s for their decision to take the child to hospital at the right time. Illnesses ranged from upset tummies and ear infections to Malaria.








 In particular, one family will stick with me; a lady brought in her young sister who had downs syndrome. The little girl played with her young cousins beside us whilst Jean was able to stress the importance of education, playtime, and communication in order for the little girl to develop. Having previously read that many disabled children in poverty-stricken countries are often abandoned due to the families’ inability to care for the child it was truly humbling to see how loved this little girl was.

By the end of the day over 100 children had been seen, all leaving with the help they needed whether it be medical advice or just peace of mind. Two of the cases required us to transport the mother and child to the local clinic and Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Blantyre. One child was suspected of having malaria whilst the other had complications post malaria treatment.

The day on the whole showed how important events such as these pop up medical clinics and healthcare education is for these communities. I felt extremely privileged to be a part of the work done by Jean, Joseph and the rest of the Joshua team in communities such as Solomoni.