In a country devastated by poverty, many people within Malawi are lacking the education they need. Empowering Malawi has partnered with the non-profit organization Africa Bags to provide Malawians with a better education and give them the opportunity to expand their knowledge. Empowering Malawi is working alongside Africa Bags to create new projects in the villages and towns of Malawi. All these projects are geared towards making education easier and more accessible to everyone. We believe that when given an education you are given the power to achieve your dreams.
About Malawi and the Issue of Education
Malawi is a landlocked country located in southeast Africa. Approximately the size of Pennsylvania, Malawi shares its borders with Zambia, Mozambique, and Tanzania. It is estimated that Malawi’s population is over 13,900,000.
Malawi is a country that has been engulfed by poverty. According to Malawi’s National Economic Council, in the year 2000 about 65.3% of all Malawians lived below the poverty line. Due to this extreme poverty, many people in Malawi are not getting the education they need. Malawi’s literacy rate is only 62.7%, compared to America’s literacy rate of 98%. In Malawi the net enrollment rate for primary school students is only 87%. By the time students have moved on to secondary school (the equivalent of high school in the US) the enrollment rate drops down to only 18%. One cause of this low enrollment rate is the cost of attending secondary school. In Malawi primary school is free, but if students want to enroll in secondary school it can cost from 75 to 250 US dollars a year. In a country where most citizens live off of less than $1 a day, attending school can become unaffordable.
To watch a short documentary and learn more about education in Malawi, please click here.
Current Projects: The Kamweko Library Project
Many projects directed towards education focus only on students in schools; the children and teenagers of a community. Empowering Malawi wants to give the whole community the opportunity to gain knowlege. Our project goal is to not only help students, but also their parents and other adults within the community. From this goal, Empowering Malawi is building a library in the village of Kamweko.
Kamweko is located in northern Malawi, near the town of Mzuzu. It is one of the seven villages working with the Africa Bags organization. In 2008 they used their profits from participating in Africa Bags to create a Community Development Center. This center has three rooms, one used mostly for the production of Africa Bags, and the other two used for events and projects within the village. The Kamweko Library has been established in one of these smaller rooms.
After a period of fundraising and collecting books, Empowering Malawi began its first library in Kamweko. In June of 2011, Empowering Malawi and Africa Bags volunteers traveled to Malawi and brought with them around 700 books for the start of Kamweko’s library. The volunteers organized the donated books and worked with villagers from Kamweko to build bookshelves. A librarian was hired to run the library and plans were made to offer adult and student literacy classes within Kamweko’s Library. The adult literacy program will be used to give adults the opportunity to re-educate themselves, while the student literacy program will focus on developing students’ literacy skills and building their love for reading.
Empowering Malawi is continuing to fundraise for books, librarian wages, and other costs needed to maintain Kamweko’s library.
If you would like to help with or have questions about this project, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Kamweko Library” as the subject.
Kamweko Library Updates:
May 3rd, 2011 – Zoey Petitt and Empowering Malawi were feautured in the Loveland, CO Reporter Herald. To view the online version of this article, please click here.
May 15th, 2011 – On May 22nd, 2011 Zoey Petitt will travel to Malawi to build Empowering Malawi’s first library in the village of Kamweko! On this trip Empowering Malawi will hire a librarian for the Kamweko library, build shelves, begin shelving the libraries donated books, and conduct a baseline survey of the literacy levels of our initial library users.
June 29th, 2011– View pictures from Empowering Malawi’s 2011 trip to establish the project’s first library in Kamweko online now! Click here to view our photos.
July 2014 – Africa Bags and Empowering Malawi volunteers returned to Malawi three years after the last trip. On this trip, a new librarian was hired and 100 books were added to the library. To view photos from this trip, you can find the album here. To learn more about Kamweko’s new librarian, click here.
Current Projects: Viweme Library
In July of 2014, Empowering Malawi started its second library in Viweme village. With an initial collection of 300 books, the library will serve adults, children, students, and a preschool based in the village. Viweme, like Kamweko, is one of 7 villages that are a part of the Africa Bags organization, and Viweme is also located in northern Malawi, a short drive from the city of Mzuzu. Literacy classes and story time sessions are being scheduled by Viweme’s librarian along with open hours for checking out books.
To begin with, the library collection in Viweme does not have a place to be permantly stored. However, after measures are taken to secure Viweme’s community center (a building constructed through the Africa Bags organization), steps will be taken to move the library here permanently.
You can find pictures of recent trips to Viweme here, and more information about Viweme’s new librarian can be found here.
If you have questions or would like to help with this project, feel free to send an email to email@example.com with “Viweme Library” in the subject line.
Current Fund-Raisers and Events:
1 in 3 Bracelet Fund-Raiser – 1 in 3 Bracelets are made from African beads by volunteers in the US. Braided from hemp the color of the sand surrounding the shores of Lake Malawi, the bracelet flaunts three brightly colored African beads. Two of the beads possess identical designs, and the third is unique. Just as one in three Malawians are unable to read, one in three of the beads on the 1 in 3 Bracelet isn’t decorated like the others. All profits from the sales of these bracelets will go to Empowering Malawi. To purchase a 1 in 3 Bracelet please visit the Africa Bags Online Store or click here.
Empowering Malawi Calendar Fund-Raiser – We are now selling 2015 Calendars to raise money for the Kamweko Library Project. The Empowering Malawi 2015 calendar is full of photographs from Malawi and the village of Kamweko in which our first library has been created. The calendar begins in January of 2015 and lasts until December of 2015. All money raised from the sales of this calendar will be used to support the Kamweko library. To purchase this calendar please visit the Africa Bags Online Store or click here.
Empowering Malawi T-Shirt Fund-Raiser – We are selling 100% cotton T-Shirts printed with the Empowering Malawi logo. The T-Shirts are black with the Empowering Malawi logo printed in white. We have Men’s and Women’s T-Shirts ranging in size from Small to Extra Large. All funds raised from the purchases of these T-Shirts will benefit Empowering Malawi and the Kamweko Library Project. To purchase a T-Shirt please visit the Africa Bags Online Store, or click here.
Past Fund-Raisers and Events:
Throughout the month of March, 2011, Empowering Malawi hosted a book drive to benefit the Kamweko Library Project. In places around the town of Loveland, Colorado, Empowering Malawi placed book collection boxes where people could donate their new or used books. From this book drive, Empowering Malawi has gathered nearly 600 books! This means we not only met, but exceeded our goal of collecting 500 books during this book drive. Empowering Malawi would like to thank the Loveland Public Library, Thompson Valley High School, and City Newsstand for their support throughout this book drive. We would also like to thank everyone who donated their books and made this book drive a success!
The People of This Project:
Empowering Malawi was started by Zoey Petitt. Zoey’s first trip to Malawi was in June of 2009. Since then, she has returned to Malawi during the summers of 2010, 2011, and 2014. Currently, Zoey is a freshman in college at the University of Arizona. Visiting Malawi helped her recognize the need for better education in Malawi and inspired her to work to provide the people of Malawi with the opportunity to educate themselves. She began Empowering Malawi in 2010 and hopes that someday this project will have helped multiple villages across Malawi.
To learn more about Empowering Malawi’s librarians in Malawi, visit the pages below.
Overton: Kamweko’s Librarian
Mr. Chimiliro: Viweme’s Librarian
If you have any questions, comments, or would like to know more about how you can help Empowering Malawi, please contact Zoey Petitt. You can send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can write to:
235 Hopkins ct.
*Africa Bags is a registered 501 (C)(3), so any donations to Africa Bags or Empowering Malawi are tax deductable.