The Nkhata Bay group is composed of members from over ten villages surrounding (outside) the township. The villages are from two Traditional Authorities (T/As Mkumbira and Mankhambira). Seventy-five percent of the Nkhata Bay group are women. Twenty five percent of these women are widows and single parents. Some of these women are living with HIV. The members of the group belong to Peace Ministries Church (PMC). PMC has an impact area that is beyond the church membership. It has carried out a number of outreach programs targeting orphans, the elderly, the handicapped, street kids, and prostitutes.
The Church’s Development Initiative (PMC-DI) begun as a youth organization (Environmental Youth Initiative-EYI) with a view to educate people on the environment and natural resources. Since 1997, the youth group has been challenged by adverse conditions that rural people meet in their day to day living. The group, therefore, maximized its scope from conservation only to socio-economic issues, taking on board more responsibility. EYI has since changed its name as well to Peace Ministries Church Development Initiative (PMC-DI). The Initiative helps the poor help themselves. Its purpose is to help people overcome the effects of poverty and to develop the capacity to create a new future for themselves and their community.
The Nkhata Bay Group has decided to save 20% of the money that is made on the project. In addition to this, they have decided to launch a welfare program to help some of the elderly and homeless.
Others from Nkhata Bay have started making small flat baskets that will be decorated by the group and sold through the Africa Bags online store.
In late April we received these updates from Nkhata Bay:
Africa Bags has adopted three elderly ladies and one older man who share in the project benefits. All of the beneficiaries have no immediate support and are most of the time abandoned and ridiculed because they are elderly and because of the myths associated with old age and witchcraft. They are being blamed by both their relatives and community members of preventing rain, therefore causers of hunger; killers of their own children and others, therefore neglected, despite the fact that many of the deaths we have now are due to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. When this class of people is visited and assisted, their life is revived and once more feel reconnected to their community.
Two of the Form 4 students that the Nkhata Bay Group supports by paying for their secondary school fees scored 10 and 12 points each, creating an open doorway for university selection.
There are a total of 10 students sponsored by the group of which two received the very best scores. Some of the students who are receiving school support from the group have single parents while others do not.
They have introduced a micro-loan system within the group. It is proposed that as part of the schemes group members that have benefited from the funds will continue to contribute sum of money similar to the loan repayment for another year after repaying the loan, thus contributing to the upkeep of the group fund. A certain individual has donated MK700,000 to the sewing group after visiting the group a couple of times and observed their commitment to deal with issues of poverty, hunger, HIV/AIDS, etc.
Farm Seed Multiplication and Provision:
It has also been proposed by both the Nkhatabay and Chintheche groups that a farm seed multiplication and provision system be put into practice by the dual, whereby when a community identifies that it would like to begin the process followed in the Pilot Scheme (to be developed), they can gain access to seeds they require, e.g. 5kg. On harvesting they will be expected to return the 5kg of seed plus an extra 5kg’s (depending on the harvest), thus enabling the seeds to be made available to other communities that would like to join the system.The idea is to improve food security and per capita income levels both at household and community levels.