Our Malawi Community Farm Project
10 of our colleagues returned this week from their 10-day volunteering trip to our Community Farm project in the Ntcheu District of Malawi.
Our volunteers helped the farmers finalise an irrigation system, a project our colleague volunteers on previous trips have worked on too. The now-completed system covers three hectares and will benefit four villages which now have water pumps installed. Our colleagues also prepared and installed beehives, had Chichewa language lessons to learn basic greetings and cultural lessons to make the most of their time out there, visited the local school and village, played football and netball with the communities and learnt Malawian dances.
Since the start of our project in 2015, the communities in which we work have made huge progress. The ultimate aim of the project is to help the communities in which we are working become self-sufficient but in addition to improving their land, crops and farming methods they have also focussed on improving other areas of their lives such as schools.
Last year WJFG produced a Christmas card which was sold to colleagues in our businesses and to Abel & Cole customers. The money raised has been used to install solar-powered lights into three schools - Benvu school, Mulanda school and Kadansana school, all of them community beneficiaries of Mwana Alirenji project.
Our Project Manager Cintia Martinez said: “I cannot count how many times farmers have mentioned the lights which have extended their activities in the schools, they have really appreciated the difference they’ve made.”
The project has also created permaculture clubs in three schools, with teachers being trained and passing on the knowledge to around 20 children in each school. The children can be then become ambassadors of organic farming and agro ecology in their villages and families.
Cintia added: “If we want significant changes which will make a difference in the longer term, let's educate the new generations too.”
After each trip to the Malawi communities, Cintia comes home buzzing with ideas. After one of her recent trips she told us: “I’m beginning to explore how to reduce absenteeism at school for girls when they are menstruating because they cannot afford feminine hygiene products. It's a huge problem, there are girls who don't even go back to school.”
Colleagues taking part in our recent trip were Joe Gallagher from Group Office, Ed Ayton, Joss Walford and Missiell Marcado from Abel & Cole, Scott Knight and Dale Warren from Jacksons, Renaud Thibault and Emilie Bernier from Belazu, Mateusz Strzelec from Wellocks and Karina Fusek from MyFresh. Also joining them in Malawi was our Project Manager Cintia.