Unification News for October 1996


WFWP-Japan Programs in Malawi

by Masako Morikawa-Malawi, Africa

In 1994 Japanese WFWP sent 10 volunteers to each of 160 nations. These women have been meeting women leaders, identifying needs, organizing programs, and networking with WFWP organizations worldwide. The following report comes from Masako Morikawa, coordinator of WFWP Malawi Chapter.

Malawi is a small country in south central Africa with a population of over ten million. Like many African countries, Malawi is tormented by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which is rapidly claiming the lives of its people. In countries like Malawi, women lack the social power to set the terms of sexual relationships, resulting in a large number of HIV- infected women in prime childbearing years (ages 20-29).

Deaths due to AIDS leave large numbers of orphaned children to be cared for by elderly grandparents. Unmanageable strains have been placed on the extended family system, leaving about 50% of the children under five years old in a state of chronic malnutrition. The National Statistical Office estimates that there are over 400,000 orphans in the country.

Having studied the problem of orphans, WFWP Malawi decided to help reduce the severe poverty problem. The following programs have been established by WFWP.

A. Orphan Care Programs

1) Distribution of food, clothes and blankets to street children.

2) Donation of 200 bags of maize flour to orphans in a village in Chief Kuntaja's regional area, which has many orphans in the Blantyre district.

3) Supporting existing local orphan care structures in Blantyre, such as the Samaritan and Chifundo Day Care Center.

The Samaritan is a local structure which tries to keep orphans off the streets by providing them with homes (tents) where they are given food and education, taught some technical skills, and have recreation activities.

Chifundo Day Care Center is a nutrition center run by the citizens of Ndirande township. At this center, food is distributed and preschool is run for orphans, although other children in the neighborhood are also admitted. WFWP supports these two centers with donations of academic materials, foodstuffs, clothes and blankets.

B. AIDS Prevention Program

WFWP conducts slide shows and lectures in secondary schools, using the Free Teens program. Our aim is to give children at this vulnerable age the information about HIV/AIDS so that they can make informed choices about their sexual activity. We realize that AIDS education for Malawi youth can only hope to achieve behavior changes if it specifically addresses sexual activity. Delaying their first sexual encounter, for example, is one means to reduce the risk of AIDS to youth.

WFWP would like to empower youths with knowledge for the following reasons:

1) So that they understand the extent of the AIDS epidemic in Malawi.

2) So that they recognize their level of personal risk.

3) So that they see the need to make appropriate behavioral changes.

In our AIDS prevention program, we have compiled a teacher's manual which will be used in secondary schools during extracurricular activities. In each secondary school in Malawi is an anti-AIDS club with which we will be working closely. Our manuals for the AIDS Prevention Program are now being reviewed by the Ministry of Education for possible use in already-existing curricula. Along with the manual, we also will use the Free Teens program. However, the Free Teens series needs to be adapted so that it fits well with the Malawian setting, taking into account its culture.

Time and time again, we have been asked to return to the anti-AIDS clubs. Our wish is to extend our program to all secondary schools in Malawi. We already have 10 lecturers (all students from the University of Malawi) who are beneficiaries of our scholarship program.

We need financial help so that we can met our primary goal of trying to curb the AIDS situation among the youth, the future leaders of Malawi.

C. Educational Scholarships

WFWP decided to establish scholarships for university students who are potential future leaders of Malawi. WFWP entered into a cooperative agreement with the Polytechnic Institute of Malawi, which is under the University of Malawi. The agreement is to support students in three ways: 1) with a financial contribution of $30; 2) with a book allowance of $50; and 3) with an out-of-pocket allowance of $60 per year.

WFWP Malawi realized that while the Malawi government puts much emphasis on education, some good students struggle financially and fail to buy required books because they lack money. The selection criteria to support a student are as follows:

The student must (1) be of good academic standing, (2) have good moral values, (3) be disciplined and well-behaved, and (4) not be a beneficiary of any other award.

WFWP Malawi is asking Americans to help by providing scholarship support for one hundred students. A yearly $140 donation will support one student. Those who are interested in corresponding with their "academic child" will be given the name and address of the child upon request. The support of American WFWP will be greatly appreciated by WFWP Malawi, as well as by the students in need and the country as a whole.

Donations toward any of these projects may be sent to WFWP headquarters in New York at 401-5th Ave, suite 217, New York, NY 10016. Clearly write the words Project Malawi on the check's memo line. All funds will be faithfully forwarded to Malawi. Reprinted from the WFWP National Newsletter.


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