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Teacher Training August 2018

This much-needed project allowed our whole staff team to recieve vital training to improve the quality of our education programmes...

 

WHO ATTENDED?

All 9 teachers and all 4 of the management team: Alice Banda, Moureen Chanasa, Faith Tambala, Zainabu Mwanyali, Alefa Nyaleyi, Chikondi Richard, Tumale Makawa, Sophie Banda, Mariam Nkalawire, Mary Madi, Patuma Nkuwira, Michael Magombo and Anderson Liwonde

 

TOPICS COVERED:

(1) Psycho Social Support

(2) Human Rights

(3) Children's Rights

(4) Supporting children with disabilities

(5) How to communicate effectively with children

(6) Basic youth counselling skills

(7) How to care for and boost educational development of children with special needs

(8) Effective organisation of learning environments

(9) New creative in-lesson play ideas

 

WHAT WERE THE MAIN LEARNING POINTS?

How to improve communication with children and improve support for students with special needs, within a classroom and educational setting.

WHAT DID INDIVIDUALS SAY ABOUT THE QUALITY OF THE COURSE?

All staff responses were very positive – many stressed how they have previously been teaching without proper skills and knowledge but they now feel more confident and aware of their roles within the organisation.



HOW WILL THIS IMPACT ON THE WORK OF COMMUNITY HIGHLIGHT?

All current teachers and management staff are now properly trained in all of the above areas. This will improve the quality of education and support that students are receiving across our four village schools and will increase the sustainability of the organisation as all staff members can now pass on this knowledge.

Our education programmes are a huge part of our work but until now our teachers have lacked the appropriate training, specifically related to supporting children with disabilities and/or special educational needs. We can now develop healthy, supportive and safe learning environments that encourage creativity and play.

 

A huge thank you must go out to Sarah Hay and The Hare for funding the whole training - what a double team!

If you would like any further information please email Evie at info.communityhighlight@gmail.com or to help fund any of our projects click here:


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Introducing another brand new project: Domasi River Tree Planting

This project, focused on planting trees along Domasi river, will help to reduce the effects of deforestation and improve access to water for our community members

 

WHY IS THIS PROJECT NEEDED?

To educate the community and reduce the effects of deforestation. This project will also reduce the risk of flooding and create a healthier river thus improving access to water.

 

WHAT IMPACTS WILL THE PROJECT HAVE?

- More trees

- More water

- Less soil erosion

- Stabilised river banks

- Less flooding

- Awareness of deforestation and its consequences

- Increased fish stocks

 

HOW WILL THE PROJECT WORK?

Anderson will lead the project, supported by other members of our staff team, Forest Officers from the local council and the youth group. The project will engage with ten villages in our catchment area: Nsangeni, Namalaka, Hayo, Chinyangala, Duka, Malupi, Jira, Saidi, Liwunga and Malenga villages. Village members will be educated on sustainable farming, the importance of trees and the effects of deforestation through dramas by our youth group and talks by the forest officers. They will then be encouraged to plant seeds along Domasi river bank and within their villages. Community Highlight will provide the seeds as well as polytubes, hoes, watering cans, fencing and other equipment.

WHAT IS A POLYTUBE?

Polytubes allow small-plot farmers to employ a drip irrigation system. Drip irrigation is a type of micro-irrigation that has the potential to save water and nutrients by allowing water to drip slowly to the roots of plants.



FURTHER CONTEXT

“In 2015, about half of Malawi’s 29 districts were hit by floods, destroying agricultural livelihoods, leaving more than 1,150,000 people affected and 336,000 displaced”

Trees play a significant part in flood prevention and Malawi currently has the 5th highest rate of deforestation in the world. Through this project we hope to change this statistic - by reducing deforestation rates we can reduce effects and likelihood of flooding for future generations.

This project has an emphasis on education and raising awareness - we believe that building the knowledge of the youth is vital for the future of Malawi – if we can stress the importance of trees and sustainable farming now we can ensure the future looks greener.

We also hope to see increased fish stocks in Domasi river as a result of the tree planting programme. Over the last decade there has been a dramatic reduction in the number of fish that are being caught in the lake. This is again due to deforestation combined with over-fishing - trees are cut down exposing soil that is then deposited in the lake. The quality of the water is reduced and the fish die. As stocks shrink, more fishing tends to occur.

By improving water quality we can boost fish stocks. This in turn will have a positive impact on nutrition levels and the socio-economic status of our community members.

 

A huge thank you must go out to Dave Litt for funding the first year of this project.

If you would lik any further information please email Evie at info.communityhighlight@gmail.com or to help fund any of our projects click here:


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Introducing our newest project: "Household Hygiene and Sanitation"

This sanitation project, focused on the building of Tip-Taps, will help to prevent outbreaks of cholera while improving the general health and hygiene of our community members...

 

WHY IS THIS PROJECT NEEDED?

To improve awareness and education surrounding sanitation and stress the importance of hygiene within our community

 

WHAT IMPACTS WILL THE PROJECT HAVE?

-Improved hygiene and health standards

- Improved knowledge of good sanitation

- A reduction in cholera and dysentery outbreaks

 

HOW WILL THE PROJECT WORK?

Anderson will manage the project and will be assisted by four HSAs (Health Surveillance Assistants) from Domasi Hospital. Last week Anderson held a meeting at Hayo School - all of our staff members were taught how to build tip-taps and about why the project is being launched. These teachers will now be distributed across the three target villages and will teach community members how to build their own Tip-Taps. The HSAs will monitor the teaching and the impact. The project will run for two months and events will be held regularly - at these events our youth group will perform dramas on the subject of sanitation. This should help to engage both young and old and educate them on the importance of good hygiene.

Edith building a Tip-Tap in Hayo Village
 

WHAT IS A TIP TAP?

A Tip-Tap is a simple hygiene device that conserves water.

“Using recycled materials such as wood, string and plastic containers, this ingenious design enables families to clean their hands hygienically and easily.”



WHY TIP-TAPS?

1. Simple and hygienic

2. Hands free so bacteria not passed between users

3. Low cost – can be made with salvaged materials

4. Only 40ml of water to wash hands so saves water

5. No waste – water goes back into the ground or nearby plants

6. Children can build and use it easily so good to promote hygiene

MORE ABOUT TIP-TAPS

Very few families in our communities have access to running water and are often not aware of the importance of hand washing. The Tip Tap is a simple way of stopping diseases from spreading. They are situated near to toilets, animal enclosures and just outside of the kitchen and work by pushing the lever down by foot to tip the bottle.

Tip-Taps reduce water usage and can be operated by foot, avoiding the risk of picking up germs from tap handles. Improved hygiene reduces the incidence of infectious disease and thereby contributes to better nutrition. In areas where similar projects have been launched, the incidence of infectious diseases, such as cholera and dysentery, has diminished since the use of Tip-Taps has been introduced. Tip-Taps can be made from non-costly material, easily available locally: pegs, wire, string, soap dishes made of old cans and used plastic water containers of medium size.

 

CHOLERA PREVENTION

Cholera is an acute gastrointestinal infection. It is primarily associated with contaminated water and food. The illness is spread through poor hygiene. As stated above the incidence of infectious diseases, such as cholera and dysentery, has diminished since the use of Tip-Taps has been introduced.

During last year’s food crisis districts in northern and southern Malawi, where we are based, registered cholera cases that resulted in 10 deaths, including those of two children. The risk of the disease spreading was very high as people were having to move around in search of food. Cholera has also been spreading unchecked from fishing camps on Lake Chilwa, just kilometres from Domasi. Many people come there to fish and use the lake water for drinking and as a toilet.

This year Machinjiri Hospital has received a suspected 7 cases while Domasi Hospital has recorded 9 cases of cholera.

This sanitation project, focused on the building of Tip-Taps, should help to prevent outbreaks of cholera while improving the general health and hygiene of our community members.

 

For more information email Evie at info.communityhighlight@gmail.com or to help fund our sanitation project click here:

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30
July

Margaret the tailor

At the start of the year we facilitated a community meeting whereby we encouraged community members to share their ideas and concerns - we asked them what projects they would like to see launched this year and how our current projects could be improved. In this meeting members of our Nsangeni Support Group suggested tailoring classes. They hoped that, through learning this skill, they could have access to a new business opportunity. Thanks to a kind donation from our supporter Lourdes we were able to launch the Community Highlight 'Tailoring School' within weeks. Last month, our team caught up with Margaret, one of our support group members who completed the training at the end of April...

When they need to tailor clothes for business, several members of our support team use our organisation machines that are kept at Project Manager Anderson's house. However, when Margaret completed her tailoring training with us, her son decided to buy her a machine - this meant that she could have unlimited use of the machine and, as a result of the training and her son's generosity, Margaret is now a self-employed tailor.

How has your tailoring training with Community Highlight helped you in everyday life?

"It's helped me generate an income as before I did not know how to use the sewing machine and now people from the village come to me asking me to fix their clothes and to make new T-Shirts, skirts and shorts."

Have you gained employment since finishing your training?

"No I am not employed but as you know Malawians are self employed the majority of the time. Since finishing my training I have been able to make enough money to feed my family and have used my skill to help others in the community through fixing clothes and passing on knowledge."

Any comments regarding your training?

"I would like to thank Community Highlight for offering me the training. My new skill will allow me to feed my children and make money for my future."

Through this community-led approach we are able to fund projects that we know will make the most impact and are most-needed by our community members.

This means we can be confident that your donations are being used in the most effective way possible.

Without our supporters, our donors, our volunteers and people like Lourdes who funded the tailoring school, we would not be able to function and we would not be able to improve the lives of so many people living in Domasi.

If you would like to give to Community Highlight today simply click the button below.

Thank you


Two years of Community Highlight!

This week marks our second birthday as a registered CBO in Malawi. We are delighted by the progress we have made so far as an organisation and a community. Thank you to everyone who has donated, supported and followed us from our inception.

Here are some of our finest statistics so far...

 

77,000 BOWLS OF PORRIDGE PROVIDED TO OVER 200 CHILDREN

 

1359 PEOPLE ACROSS 10 VILLAGES HELPED THROUGH OUR EMERGENCY FOOD PROGRAMME

 

OVER 10,000 PEOPLE HAVE ATTENDED OUR AWARENESS DAYS ON HIV/AIDS, MALARIA AND SANITATION



 

NEARLY 200 COMMUNITY MEMBERS HAVE TESTED THEMSELVES FOR HIV USING OUR FREE TESTING CLINIC

 

OUR YOUTH GROUP HAVE VISITED OVER 15,000 CHILDREN TO SPREAD AWARENESS OF THE IMPORTANCE OF GIRLS' EDUCATION AND SCHOOL

To donate today and help us to keep improving lives in Malawi click here:

30
July

Mothers Day

"Mother is God Number Two" - Malawian Proverb

Today is Mother’s Day and I’m off to cook my wonderful mum breakfast - something she very much deserves after 22 years of bringing me up and cooking me sausages on a weekly basis. But last night I stopped to think about how different the situation is for mothers in Malawi.

For us, it is a massive faux pas to ask a woman if she is pregnant before you are 100% sure that she is, but in Malawi it is such a dangerous time in a woman’s life that it is never talked about at all. In the UK the maternal mortality rate is 9 per 100,000 live births, in Malawi it is 634 per 100,000. This means, in the country we operate in, women have a 1 in 26 chance of dying in childbirth. A 1 in 26 chance of seeing their child grow up.

HIV is the cause of one third of maternal mortalities worldwide. In 2015 there were 530,000 children orphaned by HIV/AIDS in Malawi – that is the equivalent of St James’ park, filled to the brim, 10 times over. Researchers remain hopeful of finding a cure for HIV but at the moment it is merely treatable. As an organisation, and as individuals, we don’t have the scientific knowledge or the money to find a cure, so for now, we must just ensure we are helping our community members protect themselves as best they can and live healthy lives even if they are HIV positive.

Last September we sent seven members of staff on a HIV Training Course funded by USAID and led by Save the Children Malawi as part of their ‘One Community’ project. The course trained them in how to prevent HIV and care for those with the virus. Through training our staff members we have improved the effectiveness of our HIV Awareness Days as we now have individuals in our team with real expertise. Through fighting AIDS we are also fighting maternal mortality, so more children can grow up with mothers by their sides and more mothers can see their children become adults…

The women in Domasi are some of the most wonderful I have ever come across – their laughter was always so powerful and they seemed to be able to carry more on their heads than Hulk Hogan could carry with his whole body. I remember the first sight I came across when I arrived in Malawi – a woman, with her baby wrapped up safely on her back, and a massive sack of potatoes on her head, running. I nearly fell off my chair. These women had this strength that blew my mind, and they always will, and it always will. But why should they have to carry their baby, their potatoes, their water and the fear of childbirth when we can order a van to deliver all of our rusk biscuits while our baby sits in a plastic ball pit. I don’t really understand the world sometimes but all I know is we must do all we can to make it a happy place, and a better place for the people we come across.

This Mother’s Day please do spoil your strong women and please do appreciate what you have and what we have here in the UK. If you can spare a minute to think about Malawi and the mothers in Domasi please don’t pity them, celebrate them, because that’s what they deserve. Happy Mother’s Day everyone, I better go make that breakfast now…

If you would like to help fund our work in Domasi and join the fight against AIDS please click here

Written by Evie Dickinson, UK Manager


30
July

Emergency Food Crisis Feeding Programme

A devastating drought in Malawi has left 40% of the population facing severe insecurity, including some of our community members. Since the country declared a state of national disaster last April we have been fundraising and implementing an emergency feeding programme.

Through door to door surveying and community meetings we have identified a number of high priority families that have been worst affected by the food crisis.

We will begin by prioritising these individuals and targeting them through our feeding programme twice a week for a month. We will have three or four centres running to ensure that nobody has to walk far for their meal and to promote a sense of community each attendee will bring a piece of firewood and take it in turns to cook. We will alternate meals between nsima and beans and fish and vegetables.

We wanted our approach to be an integrated one and for the programme to be educational and empowering rather than just food hand outs so last month we sent Alice, Austin and Mary to a three day nutrition course at Domasi Hospital.

These three trained members of staff will now help to co-ordinate the feeding programme - they will deliver their knowledge to attendees and discuss food groups, balanced diets and the risks of malnutrition. We will keep a record of individuals identified as at risk of malnutrition and ensure these people are directed to the services available and offered further support by our trained staff.

We hope that through this integrated approach our community members will not only gain immediate support in the form of food, but also long lasting knowledge and an ability to make healthy decisions about food in the future. 

We are delighted to say that our first trial day last week was a success - we fed and offered advice and expertise to 29 adults and 129 children. 

We look forward to updating you further over the next few months.

To help us to carry on our work and continue to alleviate the effects of the food crisis you can donate here

For more information about our projects, donations or our needs, please have a look around our website or email Evie at info.communityhighlight@gmail.com with any questions.


31
Dec

Happy New Year everyone!

The whole Community Highlight team would like to wish you all a very happy New Year and thank you for helping us to make our first calendar year such a successful and encouraging one.

2016 has been our first full year as a registered CBO and we are so proud of what we have managed to achieve with the help of all of our valued supporters and volunteers.

This year has been an especially testing one for our community members in Domasi. Malawi has been, and still is, feeling the effects of the worst food crisis in over a decade. On Wednesday the 13th of April 2016 President Peter Mutharika declared “a state of national disaster”. The Southern regions of Malawi, including our district Zomba, were said to have been worst hit, with prolonged dry spells resulting in severe crop failure. This crop failure resulted in a sharp decline in maize production rendering 2.8 million people food insecure.

This crisis resulted in a very challenging year for our beneficiaries and Community Highlight as an organisation - ideally we never wanted to be just an emergency aid charity, but this situation has meant we have had to balance both our long term projects and emergency projects.

A huge thank you must go out to all of our supporters and volunteers for their kindness and generosity at this difficult time, and also our Malawian staff members who have worked non-stop to try and improve the situation for their community despite feeling the devastating effects themselves.

With an integrated plan now in place to reduce food insecurity and malnutrition we hope for a more stable year ahead.

Here are some of our key achievements in 2016:

We are so happy with the progress we have made this year and our plans for 2017 look even more exciting as we continue to focus on training our staff members and reaping the benefits of our community-led approach. We are so lucky to have such a generous and kind-hearted supporter base - we say it every year, but truly none of this would be possible without you!

Thank you all for your ongoing support and friendship. Here's to 2017!

Best wishes as ever,

Evie Dickinson

  • International Women's Day Campaign #HighlightHer - Earlier this year we launched our first awareness campaign, to commemorate International Women's Day. We were delighted by the amount of people that took part in #HighlightHer and shone a light on the topic of women empowerment. You can still see our final collage here
  • Awareness Events - This year we hosted and funded three HIV awareness events - reaching almost 1,500 people between them. These events offered free testing and education on topics such as mother to child transmission and prevention and protection. We also hosted our first Malaria Awareness Day in May. Hundreds of people attended and were offered free advice, information and education on the subject of Malaria.
  • Community Days - In March we hosted our first Community Day. The day was organised with the aim of providing information, guidance and advice to members of our community with a strong focus on hygiene and health. By hosting these days and, more recently, Community Meetings we are beginning to form a good relationship with both community members and chiefs thus allowing us to really start focusing our work on the issues that are seen as most important by our beneficiaries.
  • The launch of our new irrigation project - Earlier this year we launched our new irrigation project that will help our beneficiaries to mitigate and adapt to climate change by providing them with the opportunity to become self-sufficient and cultivate crops all year round.
  • Food Crisis Relief Efforts - In June Project Manager Anderson Liwonde estimated that by August many of our community members would be suffering from severe food insecurity due to the crippling food crisis that has seen 17% of the population unable to meet their food requirements this year. In an attempt to improve the situation for the people of Domasi we have managed to fundraise over £500, with the help of some fantastic supporters. We were able to continue running our feeding programme for the entirety of the school summer holiday and look to implement our aforementioned integrated plan to improve food security and nutrition.
  • School in a Bag - This summer our partnership with the Piers Simon Appeal and their initiative School in a Bag gifted 250 of our students the opportunity to not only learn but to express themselves. The Piers Simon Appeal gave us 250 school bags filled with resources catered to the needs of our pupils.
  • Staff Training - This year we have been prioritising staff training needs. In September seven members of our staff in Malawi received HIV training through the program One Community - funded by USAID and led by Save the Children Malawi. The course trained them in how to prevent HIV and care for those with the virus. We are now able to utilise these members of staff at our awareness events. In the last month our management team have also completed a course through Zomba Vocational Training Centre.This capacity building training programme has allowed Anderson, Patuma and Michael to gain vital skills that will help us to keep growing and developing as an organisation.
  • Our new youth group - Last month we introduced Bedi Youth Group. Bedi youth leaders have over a decade of experience. They will work with young people in our catchment area to provide a safe environment for free discussion and expression. This will prove essential in tackling issues like school drop out rates and sexual health.
  • Online Gift Shop launch - We now have our own online gift shop! Click here to have a look at our gift card range!

30
July

International Literacy Day 2016

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the proclamation of World Literacy Day – a day which began as an ambitious idea in a congress meeting in Tehran and has evolved into a multitude of projects which aid literacy and promote reading across the globe.

In 1960, it was estimated that 42% of the world was literate – 58% were therefore unable to read and write. Recent statistics, collected by the UN, show that the average global literacy rates today are 84% for adults and 89% for young people, demonstrating phenomenal overall progress throughout the last 50 years, and also showing that progress is continuing generationally.

Despite these fantastic advancements, these figures are an average of progress across the entire globe, and the country-by-country breakdown of literacy rates shows great disparity among countries and continents. Whilst the majority of Europe, the USA and South America and Asia maintain literacy rates of 90% and above, literacy rates across Africa are extremely varied, ranging from Zimbabwe’s 90.7% to Burkina Faso’s 21.8%. The image below (from UNESCO) depicts the disparity of African literacy among young people:

As we can see, the highest instances of illiteracy occur in Western Africa, with countries such as Mali, Niger, Chad and Guinea experiencing youth literacy rates of less than 50%.

Although Malawi is able to celebrate that 72.1% of the population of 15-24 year olds are literate, there is still a long way to go to ensure that the remaining 29% receive the same provisions and quality of teaching as those that are already classed as being literate (as is also the case for many other countries). As expected, literacy rates tend to be higher in children and adults that live in and around cities, whilst in rural areas, the rates decrease due to lack of vital resources such as well trained teachers, books and stationary.

Here at Community Highlight, we work with schools, passionate teachers and partner organisations, to ensure that the children in the Domasi community receive the best support and teaching available, in an effort to increase literacy rates and to enable them to grow to be bright and driven young people. Earlier this year, a brilliant UK based initiative - School in a Bag - were kind enough to donate 250 stationary-stocked school rucksacks to our school children, enabling them to carry out their school work without worry of where their materials will come from. It is small acts of kindness and generosity such as these that allow the children in the community to learn to read and write and to grow to become parents and teachers that can then pass on these life-changing skills to the next generation.

However, please note that despite brilliant donations such as these, we are constantly in need of school materials such as pens, paper, books and chalk in order to keep our schools running. We are also currently fundraising in order to provide our Chinyangala School with a blackboard (as they are currently using a door as a board), so that the children can be taught more effectively.

To help us to carry on our work and to promote literacy within Malawi, please visit our donation page here

For more information about our projects, donations or our needs, please have a look around our website or email evie@communityhighlight.co.uk with any questions.

You can also boost your own literacy and English language skills, as well help to enhance them within the community, by joining our newest venture, Project Penpal. Please email evie@communityhighlight.co.uk with your name and age to be matched with a penpal from Domasi.

Happy World Literacy Day, everyone

Written by Lauren Dowell

Some extra reading to lift your literacy skills:

>p>International Literacy Day 2016, UNESCO: http://en.unesco.org/events/international-literacy-day-2016?language=en

Adult and Youth Literacy, UNESCO: http://www.uis.unesco.org/Education/Documents/fs26-2013-literacy-en.pdf

The Literacy Professional Skills Test, Department for Education: http://sta.education.gov.uk/professional-skills-tests/literacy-skills-tests


30
July

International Friendship Day: Putting a stamp on cross-continental friendship

The 30th of July marks International Friendship Day - a day which allows us to celebrate the wonderful bonds that we have with others, and to shape new friendships in the face of adversity. It’s a day which encourages us to create dialogue and understanding between different cultures and countries, remembering that we have a lot in common, but that there is also beauty in our differences as they allow us to learn from one another.

On this International Friendship Day, Community Highlight would like to invite people from the UK and people from Malawi to engage in a letter exchange, building bonds that cross borders and fostering friendships which reach out across seven and a half thousand miles. We want people to have the chance to learn about everyday life in another country and as part of another culture – the similarities, the differences and the parts that we might even want to adopt into our own lifestyles.

Intercultural exchange is an integral part of building positive relations and of human education, and our letter exchange wants to provide people with the opportunity to learn about another culture and country, and make a new friend, without relying on second-hand accounts and without the expense of travelling. We understand that postage between the UK and South-eastern Africa can also be pricey, so we are going to operate a system whereby participants will email their letters to us at Community Highlight (if you would like to handwrite your letters, feel free to scan them and email the scanned copy) and we will email them to our volunteers in Domasi, who will then distribute them to your respective pen pals – likewise, your pen pals will pass their letters onto Community Highlight and we will email them over to you.

Participants from the UK will kick off the letter exchange in the first week of August. We will email you a welcome letter and a guideline of the information that you might want to include in your first letter, and will be available if you have any questions or concerns.  

If you would like to participate in the letter exchange, please drop us a message on Facebook or send us an email to evie@communityhighlight.co.uk with your name and age so that we can match you with someone of a similar age from the Domasi community.

We’re looking forward to hearing about your blossoming friendships and newfound knowledge, and can’t wait to get involved in the exchange ourselves!

Happy letter writing!

For more information about Friendship Day, please see the UN’s website: here

For more information about our work in Domasi, please visit our website: here


12
August

School In A Bag Initiative: Impact Report

Last week Anderson Liwonde, our Project Manager, visited Chinyangala, Namalaka, Nsangeni and Hayo Village to assess the impact of the 250 bags distributed earlier this year through our partnership with the Piers Simon Appeal and their initiative School in a Bag 

Reports from Nsangeni - 

The Chief of Nsangeni Village has also praised the programme – he said it has encouraged more children to attend school and he has seen many children continuing their learning and expressing their creativity at home in out of school hours. He asked for the programme to continue so the children of Nsangeni can make the most of their education. Parents also showed their thanks and discussed the pride the children felt when wearing their school bags.

According to our end of term figures, only approximately 50 children do not regularly attend school in Nsangeni Village.

Reports from Hayo -

In Hayo Village, the Chief spoke very highly of the school bag partnership (See photo below of parents and Chief of Hayo Village). According to the Chief school attendence has hit a record high since the school bags were distributed to students. Enthused by the prospect of receiving the bags and encouraged by parents and carers, around 350 children now attend school regularly.

Reports from Namalaka -

Anderson met with the parents and carers of Namalaka Village. Namalaka has always been one of our busiest schools and is one of the larger villages we work in. The parents talked about the impact of the school bags – claiming now their children want to attend school so they too can receive bags and therefore continue to draw, write and learn in their spare time.

Before the school bags, one main incentive for parents was our feeding programme – parents were encouraged to send their children to school as it took the pressure off them to provide three meals a day. Now, the parents say another incentive is the bags as it is allowing the children to really make the most of their education – previously they lacked resources so when they came home from school there was no way for them to continue learning and practicing writing skills.

Reports from Chinyangala -

The other village we distributed school bags to was Chinyangala. Chinyangala Village did not have a school until we set one up just last year. Because of this, the children at Chinyangala are the least confident academically as many of them did not attend school until last year as the distances were just too far for them to travel. Since we distributed bags to children in Chinyangala parents have claimed that their children are now practicing skills like handwriting at home and are beginning to express creativity and a new desire to learn. While we do not have statistics to back up these comments yet, it is encouraging to hear that children are using their new resources outside of school and are developing a new love of learning.

As you can tell from these personal reports collected by Anderson the SIAB programme has had huge impacts on our community members – the children are not only beginning to express their creativity and developing a desire to learn, but the parents of these students are also starting to understand and appreciate the importance and power of education.

Once the next term begins we will be able to further analyse impact by assessing again the number of children attending school and the number of those who have school bags provided by the SIAB programme. 


13
July

School in a Bag Partnership

We are absolutely delighted to announce that, earlier this year, with the help of the fantastic UK charity the Piers Simon Appeal and their initiative School in a Bag, we were able to supply 250 of our children with school bags filled with stationary.

These bags allow our school children to make the most of their education and give them the opportunity to not only learn but to express themselves.

School in a Bag is an initiative run by the UK registered charity the Piers Simon Appeal. The concept of School in a Bag was born in late 2009 following a collaboration project to send school bags to orphan children in Swaziland. School in a Bag is a simple solution created to help poor, orphan, vulnerable and disaster affected children throughout the world. 

UK Manager Evie made contact with Founder and CEO Luke Simon in 2015 and was instantly overwhelmed by his desire to support Community Highlight. We were able to overcome some small issues along the way and were thrilled to complete the distribution of the bags earlier this year. 

One community member wrote to us to say "This is incredible and I personally would like to thank those who provide those school bags because now I can see many children attending school than before. Furthermore the children are looking beautiful than before as well. Keep up transforming our children"

A huge thank you must go out to the wonderful Luke Simon for his support, for his generosity and for making 250 children in Domasi beam with excitement.

Thank you from everyone at Community Highlight, and we look forward to working with you again soon.

To learn more about the work of School in a Bag head to their website here or watch this video


17
June

World Day to Combat World Desertification

Today is World Day to Combat Desertification, and although this is a pretty niche sounding day, desertification is an issue which is ever prevalent in our world – and the effects are devastating.

Desertification is defined as “the process by which fertile land becomes desert, typically as a result of drought, deforestation, or inappropriate agriculture,” and consequently, the land becomes insufficient for growing crops and producing food. In many Southern African countries, a high proportion of the population depend on agriculture; around 80% of Malawians depend on small-scale farming for both food and income, and thus desertification and drought have devastating effects on the health, nutrition, independence and livelihood of an enormous number of people.

Following on from last month’s theme of environmental sustainability, combating desertification is a vital factor in achieving food security. In countries and communities which depend on crop growth for nutrition, arable land is essential, and unfortunately, desertification is becoming more and more widespread, leading to shortage of grains from which staple foods are produced. In line with this, The United Nation’s World Food Program has predicted that Malawi could face the worst food crisis in decades as less crops can be grown and maize prices soar due to high demand. An earlier crisis in 2001, was alleviated when the Malawian government developed a fertiliser programme which enabled agricultural sustainability for years – however, the ‘El Niño’ climate has created conditions which are far worse than during previous crises and in April of this year, President Mutharika declared a ‘State of Emergency’ in Malawi. Global Development experts believe that more than half of the population will be in need of food by November – 8 million people will go hungry.

Governments and NGOs are banding together in an attempt to lessen the blow caused by the current crisis, and to alleviate hunger of citizens – however the effects of climate change are far-reaching and overbearing, and require much greater attention and care on a global scale. Despite the implementation of small and helpful programmes such as our new irrigation programme which enables our farmers to provide crops with water in adverse conditions, such small-scale developments are not enough to beat the hunger crisis in the face of treacherous climatic conditions. We need to talk about what we can do as global citizens to combat this huge problem, not just to ensure the food security of the Domasi communities, but to ensure the food security of millions of people across the globe.

The UNCCD seeks to remind us that “desertification can be effectively tackled, that solutions are possible, and that key tools to this aim lay in strengthened community participation and co-operation at all levels” and this year’s slogan of “Protect Earth. Restore Land. Engage People” conveys the need for protection, restoration and community engagement and cooperation succinctly. Now we need to put this into practice.

Please help our friends in Domasi by sharing this article to raise awareness of desertification and its serious effects, and by donating whatever you can to help to ease the crisis

And please help the world by researching what you can do to help to reduce climate change (this article is a good place to start)

Zikomo kwambiri

Written by Lauren Dowell

Further reading and information:

World Day to Combat Desertification, UNCCD

World Day to Combat Desertification, UN

Across Africa, the Worst Food Crisis since 1985 Looms for 50 Million, The Guardian

World Environment Day, Evie Dickinson (see below)


04
June

World Environment Day and the devastating effects of climate change in Malawi...

Today is World Environment Day and this year I want you to become one of the UN’s not very secret ‘agents of change’…

Climate change is now widely recognised as the major environmental problem facing the world and it is pushing Malawi further into poverty.

Malawi faces several social problems including poverty, a high HIV/AIDS infection rate and huge gender inequalities. All of these problems are being exacerbated by climate change despite the country’s miniscule greenhouse gas emissions.

Erratic weather patterns and prolonged dry spells caused by climate change have led to Malawi’s worst food crisis in decades with 17% of the population unable to meet their food requirements this year. With 80% of our beneficiaries working as subsistence farmers many of our community members are at the frontline of climate change. According to Project Manager Anderson Liwonde many will be suffering from severe food insecurity by August.

We have recently launched our irrigation programme that will help our beneficiaries to mitigate and adapt to climate change by providing them with the opportunity to become self-sufficient and cultivate crops all year round. However, despite this recent project launch and new drive towards agricultural self-sufficiency, our community members are still going to be hit by extreme hunger this year.

Climate change could also have a worrying impact on Malawi’s HIV/AIDS rates. In the absence of food, some vulnerable women may be forced to resort to selling sex for food which could lead to an increased vulnerability to HIV/AIDS; a social problem that we, among many other organisations and bodies, are working so hard to fix. In addition, the spread of HIV/AIDS weakens people’s ability to respond to the changing climate as their immune system is broken down. This could mean not only increased rates of HIV/AIDS, but also increased rates of disease, illness and potentially death.

Gender inequalities are also being exacerbated by this major environmental issue. Many girls are being forced out of school to help with vital household chores as their mothers struggle to deal with the new challenges brought on by climate change. This could mean a whole generation of girls are dragged into poverty and the gender gap is widened further.

For me, it is sickeningly unfair that a country responsible for 0.0% of global emissions is being completely devastated by climate change. A recent Guardian article that discussed the current food crisis included a quote from a Malawian villager called Richard Kapenda. He said “We pray hard for rain and then we must pray harder that it stops. Is there no end of extreme weather?” But we can do something to answer Mr Kapenda’s prayers, so why don’t we?

This World Environment Day please think about your contribution to climate change and please think about the people of Southern Africa, people like Richard Kapenda, who are facing extreme hunger this year. We may not be able to turn back time, but we can certainly improve the future.

If you would like to support the people of Domasi, Malawi at this time of crisis please visit our fundraising page here: https://www.youcaring.com/community-highlight-556463 and if you are not in a position to give financially please spread awareness. Your help is crucial. Thank you.

Written by Evie Dickinson


12
May

Happy Birthday to us!

This week marks one year since we were officially registered as a Malawian CBO and we are delighted by what we have managed to achieve over the last 12 months.

As well as continuing to successfully run our four village schools and feed over 200 children a day we have made a huge amount of progress; launching new community-led projects and holding awareness events that now reach over 8000 people in the Domasi region...

Key achievements and progress areas:

But while this year has been hugely exciting and rewarding with progress being made in all areas, we have lost some extremely important members of the Community Highlight Family, including Namalaka School Teacher Howa who we miss each day. These losses have only enhanced our determination to create a sustainable, community-led CBO that can benefit the lives of thousands of people in rural Domasi. Through education, empowerment and improved access to healthcare, we can prevent these devastating losses happening in the future.

Our main aim for the coming 12 months is to improve the sustainability of our projects and ensure funding that will allow us to not only continue our current programmes, but also work towards expansion.

A huge thank you must go out to all of our supporters and staff members who have helped us to make our first year a successful and exciting one. Here's to the next 12 months and here's to Howa. Zikomo Kwambiri.

"I would like to thank all of our donors for supporting Community Highlight. God bless you all" Anderson Liwonde - Project Manager

  • Awareness events - Since our founding in May last year we have held four HIV awareness events with each one reaching over 8000 community members. These events have allowed us to offer free testing and free education to many villagers that have never had access before; for them this is a hugely empowering thing. Our Nsangeni Support Group have been instrumental in the organisation and running of these events and have expanded to help more people than ever to live a positive, healthy life with HIV.
  • Community Highlight Garden - We were thrilled to launch our Community Highlight Garden back in January this year and since then we have harvested five bags of ground nuts. These nuts will add vital nutritional value to our feeding programme porridge.
  • School maintenance and building work - With help from our wonderful supporters and fundraisers we have been able to repair and strengthen our school buildings this year; allowing us to provide our children with more suitable, safe and productive learning environments.
  • Irrigation programme - This March, following discussions with the community, we decided to mark World Water Day with the launch of a new Irrigation Project. This new irrigation project will allow farmers to irrigate their land and crops throughout the year; increasing productivity and food security. The challenges brought on by climate change, increasing population and declining soil fertility make our efforts to bring sustainable water and sanitation solutions to our rural communities even more urgent and we are hoping this new project will alleviate the problems currently being faced by our communities.
  • Emergency Relief - While we are not an emergency relief charity, it has been a difficult 12 months for the people of Malawi. The issues brought on by El Nino and climate change led to the flooding of many of our villages and, more recently, the worst food crisis in over a decade. With help from our supporters, we have managed to raise emergency funds to help our community members through this challenging time. Late last year we used our Flood Fund to provide 40 families with 25kg of maize and since we have raised nearly £300 in an attempt to boost food security and avoid an increase in malnutrition within our communities. Our Emergency Food Crisis Appeal is ongoing and we hope to raise nearer to £1000 to ensure that we can support the people of Domasi as the crisis inevitably worsens later in the year.
  • Partnerships - We successfully partnered with a UK Based Organisaion (yet to be annouced) and organised a district wide project that benefitted 250 school children in our region.
  • Improved staffing - Since our founding, we have managed to improve our staffing situation in Malawi by employing Edith, our substitute teacher who now provides much needed 'back up' for our wonderful teachers. We also welcomed Austin Magombo home; he is back at Hayo School after spending time in South Africa. Our UK team is also ever growing; alongside Emma and Evie we now have Lauren, Cat and Sadie volunteering for us and assisting with content, proofreading and curriculum. Eileen is also to return to the UK later this month; we look forward to welcoming her home.

07
April

World Malaria Day: "Mosquito nets are vital, but education is key"

Today is World Malaria Day, here our content writer Lauren Dowell discusses the key issues surrounding the disease in Malawi and how you can help to make Domasi malaria-free...

A recent report from Domasi Hospital states that 2447 people were affected by Malaria in the month of March. The report announced that this local government hospital has received no Malaria medication for the past three months, leaving it unable to treat patients effectively, and greatly increasing the likelihood of severe cases of the virus. During this time, malaria has taken the lives of two young children.

Today is World Malaria Day, and we would like to take this opportunity to take a look at what Malaria is, how the disease is contracted and treated, and what we can do to teach people about Malaria prevention.

For many people in the UK, the word “Malaria” leads them to recall Cheryl Cole’s 2010 encounter with the illness, which had the nation outraged and distressed that a prominent celebrity had been able to contract the virus and that it affected her so quickly and ferociously. Fortunately for Cheryl, she fell ill in the UK, with access to well-trained medical specialists, top-of-the-range treatment and well-informed aftercare, and survived the illness and bounced back singing and dancing. Sadly, this is not the reality of malaria treatment globally, with malaria accounting for around 850, 000 deaths annually, and low accessibility to antimalarial drugs in many countries.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted into the blood of humans through the bites of Anopheles mosquitos. These mosquitos live in around 95 countries, putting almost 50% of the world’s population at risk of contraction. The most susceptible groups are:

1) Young children; children have weaker immune systems and have not yet built immunity to the infection – the deaths of children under 5 account for 70% of all malaria deaths.

2) Pregnant women; malaria poses a high risk of death for pregnant women due to the multitude of complications which malaria poses. Malaria can also cause stillbirth, maternal anaemia and miscarriage.

3) Travellers from malaria-free zones; this group has experienced no exposure to malaria and has therefore built up no immuno-resistance to the virus, leaving them susceptible to contraction and posing difficulties in defending the disease.

A very important and easy method of prevention, or at the very least reduction, is mosquito nets. Lowering the risk of being bitten while sleeping, these low-cost nets act as a safety blanket for residents in Domasi (and many other towns and cities around the world), lowering incidence of contraction and preserving health. Despite the provision of mosquito nets by other CBOs and charities in Domasi, education on the topic of malaria has been neglected, and the importance of their use has not been stressed enough. While the proportion of sub-Saharan African children sleeping under nets increased from 2% to 68% between 2000 and 2015, lack of awareness in Domasi has led to mosquito nets being widely used for fishing; whilst this helps to alleviate the issue of the Malawian food crisis, this lack of awareness is allowing malaria to spread.

Our Malawian Project Manager, Anderson Liwonde, has organised and carried out many successful awareness events for the Domasi communities. He has seen that events which use plays and music as vehicles for disseminating important information are the most successful, and this is therefore the kind of event which we would like to provide to raise awareness about malaria. Not only are performances engaging for adults and children alike, but they provide children with visual interpretations of the realities of illnesses such as malaria, allowing children to act as agents of change by reiterating images and messages seen in performances to their families and friends, in order to implement prevention methods, and ultimately drive better health practices.

In order to provide an awareness day on the same scale as our recent HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (which 8000 local people attended!), we need to raise sufficient funds. If you would like to contribute towards the Malaria Awareness Event, the provision of mosquito nets, or the provision of community fishing nets (to deter the use of mosquito nets for this purpose), please email us at info.communityhighlight@gmail.com and help to us make Domasi malaria-free.

Written by Lauren Dowell

Sources and Further Reading: Further Reading: 10 Facts on Malaria, WHO: http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/malaria/en/ Malaria (Fact sheet), WHO: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs094/en/ Cheryl Cole ‘had emergency treatment’ for Malaria, The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/news/cheryl-cole-had-emergency-treatment-for-malaria-2020351.html


23
April

Meet Sadie Cannard, our volunteer proofreader and content editor

Introducing, Sadie Cannard!

We are extremely excited to have Sadie Cannard on board as our new volunteer proofreader and content editor.

Sadie graduated from University West of England last year and has since been working her way into the publishing sector. Keen to gain experience, she has joined the Community Highlight team.

Based in Bristol, Sadie will work closely with UK Communications and Marketing Manager Evie Dickinson and will assist Lauren Dowell with the content writing.

Sadie is a great lover of dogs, deal or no deal and crackers with mayonnaise and we are extremely glad to have her.


07
April

World Health Day

World Health Day: Let’s talk about HIV

Today is World Health Day, and although the UN have marked diabetes as this year’s focal point, we are going to use today as an opportunity to take a look into the huge issue of HIV within Malawi, and how it can be prevented and treated. We will take a look at the prevalence of HIV in Malawi, how the virus is transmitted, and preventative measures and treatments which can be taken to avoid and hinder transmission and development in accordance with the UN’s third sustainable development goal which seeks to end the epidemic of AIDS by 2030.

Before we delve into the statistics, let’s take a brief look at what HIV is, and how it came to be. HIV (or Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that weakens a person’s immune system by attacking the T-cells which the body uses to fight infection, making a person more susceptible to diseases and their effects. If left untreated, HIV will eventually lead to AIDS (or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) which is a collection of illnesses caused by lack of medical intervention, and identified as the end-stage of HIV. AIDS was first detected in the early 1980s, and doctors later identified HIV as the cause of this disease. From the 1990s onwards, antiretroviral treatments were developed and introduced to slow the progression of HIV, and thus provide those infected with better health and greater livelihoods. Such treatments are used by hundreds of thousands of people today, and the World Health Organisation states that all infected people should receive ART as soon as they have been diagnosed. Here in the UK, with relatively low HIV rates and a National Health Service, these provisions are possible – however, for countries like Malawi, ensuring that people receive these medical recommendations is much harder, and that is where it is vital that NGOs and donors like you step in.

Last year the UN estimated that 1, 100, 000 Malawian people are living with HIV/AIDS, an increase of 100, 000 people from 2013. As a result of such high instances of the infection, and lack of preventative care, there were 48, 000 AIDS-related deaths in 2013, and a further 33, 000 AIDS related deaths in 2014 - figures which contribute to Malawi’s concerning low life expectancy of 54.8 years.

Although Malawi witnessed a phenomenal 67% reduction in child HIV cases between 2005 and 2013, the overall HIV incidence rate is still on the rise within the country, with mother-to-child transmission as a key factor in the ongoing status of this epidemic. This is where an infected mother passes the infection to her child during pregnancy, labour, delivery or breastfeeding, and is how 90% of children become infected with this life-threatening virus. In line with this, preventative measures need to be taken to ensure that these mothers do not contract HIV in the first place, and are therefore unable to pass the virus onto future generations. Provisions also need to be put into place to ensure that sick children receive vital antiretroviral medicines which prevent their health from deteriorating, and prevent the HIV from developing into AIDS. If an infected mother takes antiretroviral medication during pregnancy, there is a 1 in 100 chance that her child will contract the virus – if she does not take any medication, the chance is 1 in 4.

An additional and simple preventative measure, recommended by all health authorities, is the provision of male and female condoms. Data on condom usage between male and female partners is scarce, due to the sensitivity of the issue, but Avert report that 21 million condoms were provided across Malawi in 2012/13 with only 25.9% of people with multiple sexual partners reporting to have used a condom during their last sexual encounter. This highlights the importance of providing education as well as resources; so that people understand how the disease is transmitted and that there are straightforward actions that can be taken to prevent the spread of the virus.

In addition to this, there is no data available for condom usage between male sexual partners, for sex workers or for those that inject drugs, and few provisions in place to protect these groups of people, despite being considered high-risk HIV groups. The tabooed nature of the lifestyles of these groups has led to a lack of targeting and assistance, raising concern among those delivering and funding Malawian HIV prevention programmes, that the programmes are ineffective and discriminatory. In addition, the Malawian Ministry of Health has stated that limited funding means that they are unable to provide enough free protection for everyone, and unable to provide structured educational community programmes to teach all people about HIV prevention and treatments. It is vital to recognise that education surrounding sexual health and protection for all people is an essential component in the fight against this virus, and other sexually transmitted infections in addition to the provision of condoms. Again, this is where NGOs and donors are essential for filling the gaps and striving to ensure that more and more people receive education, protection and treatment.

In an effort to ensure that the communities of Domasi understand HIV and its implications, we arrange HIV awareness events throughout the year. At the events we provide free and confidential testing, workshops about prevention and treatment, and bring in local dancers/entertainers in order to ensure that as many people as possible attend and receive this vital information. The fantastic Nsangeni Support Group also attend these workshops to share their stories about how to live a full and happy life with HIV, and provide support for those that need it. Our next event will focus on mother-to-child transmission, and will take place within the next fortnight, subject to adequate funding.

You can help to reduce HIV rates in our villages and communities by helping to fund these vital community events which aim to educate about transmission, inform about preventative measures, and advise on medical treatment for those with the illness. Please email us at info.communityhighlight@gmail.com for further information about how you can help to fund these life-changing workshops.

Written by Lauren Dowell

Sources and Further Reading: Avert, HIV and AIDS in Malawi: http://www.unaids.org/en/regionscountries/countries/malawi UNAIDS, Malawi: http://www.avert.org/professionals/hiv-around-world/sub-saharan-africa/malawi Global AIDS Response Progree Report: Malawi Progress Report for 2013: http://www.unaids.org/sites/default/files/en/dataanalysis/knowyourresponse/countryprogressreports/2014countries/MWI_narrative_report_2014.pdf NHS, HIV and AIDS – Prevention: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hiv/pages/preventionpg.aspx NHS, HIV and AIDS – Treatment: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/HIV/Pages/Treatmentpg.aspx HIV Aware, Timeline of HIV - http://www.hivaware.org.uk/about/timeline-of-hiv Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/


22
March

World Water Day

The 22nd of March marks World Water and the introduction of our new irrigation project...

Today is World Water Day; a day to celebrate water and its role as an “essential building block of life”. Today also allows us to spread awareness of water-related issues faced both worldwide and in Malawi. According to WaterAid “1/10 people worldwide don’t have access to safe, clean water” and in Malawi only 34% of people living in rural areas have access to improved water. This not only has huge implications on health, sanitation and well-being but with agriculture accounting for about 90 percent of Malawi’s export earnings this is having a monumental impact on the wealth of the country and the wealth of its people; 80% of people are employed in agriculture and 65% of the 13.1 million people live below the poverty line.

For many of us, we can just turn on a tap and access safe water. But in Malawi, millions of farmers who rely on rain to grow their crops are struggling because of increasingly erratic rainfall. 90% of Malawi’s agriculture is rain-fed and in recent years, official sources have reported a number of erratic rainy seasons, which have been shorter in duration. The rainy season normally runs from November to April and accounts for 95% of the country’s annual rainfall. This decreased rainfall has meant less water for human consumption as well as for crops, leading to the worst food crisis in over a decade.

While our villages in Domasi have not been the worst hit, many members of our community have reported severe levels of food insecurity with the price of maize rocketing to over 13,000MK (£13) per bag. Maize is Malawi’s main food crop and accounts for nearly 90% of the cultivated land.

80% of people in the villages we work in are smallholder or subsistence farmers; given the low rainfall and its mono-modal pattern, the potential for increased production through higher cropping intensities is severely limited without some form of irrigation. Increased irrigation, particularly for smallholder farmers, is therefore essential for increased crop production. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the country is only irrigating 72,000 of 400,000 hectares of irrigable land but diversification into irrigation farming would increase yields and harvests and allow farmers to grow crops in the dry season.

Following discussions in the community we have decided to invest in a water pump fuelled by diesel. While we understand the environmental implications of using diesel, the pump would allow farmers to irrigate their crops and land throughout the year. This community-driven project will require groups to come together and raise the funds for the diesel; the pump would be used by two groups per day. This would not only increase productivity and food security but will also help to promote solidarity within our communities. This is a self-sufficient approach that will help to reduce the effects of climate change and promote well-being and rural livelihoods. The community decided that this was the best option for them, while we research more cost-effective and environmentally-friendly techniques.

The fact that nearly 80% of our beneficiaries are farmers increases their vulnerability to the lack of access to water. The challenges brought on by climate change, increasing population and declining soil fertility make our efforts to bring sustainable water and sanitation solutions to our rural communities even more urgent. The UN’S 6th Sustainable Development Goal is ‘ensure access to water and sanitation for all’. We are committed to this goal and through our new water pump project we hope to protect Domasi’s water system and improve the livelihoods of the people we assist.

Today, lets come together to celebrate water and understand the issues faced by people worldwide. For the people in our Domasi communities it doesn’t matter how hard they’ve worked and how long they have spent planting their crops; if the rain doesn’t come, they will not eat. It’s as simple and as devastating as that. Water is life; we all deserve equal access to life so surely we all deserve equal access to water?

Happy World Water Day everyone.

To read more and find out about events happening near you, head to the official UN World Water Day website here: http://www.unwater.org/worldwaterday/home/en/

If you wish to find out more about our water pump project email us at info.communityhighight@gmail.com

Written by Evie Dickinson


26
Feb

International Women’s Day: #HightlightHer2016

Introducing our new campaign: #HighlightHer2016

The 8th of March marks International Women’s Day – a day focused on the quest for gender equality, and which celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day provides an opportunity for women from across the globe to come together to celebrate their achievements, to highlight issues and inequalities, and to work towards positive change as a unit. This year’s theme is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step it Up for Gender Equality”, in line with the UN’s 5th Sustainable Development Goal, which aims for total global gender equality by 2030.

At Community Highlight, we have decided to celebrate International Women’s Day by launching a campaign to show our appreciation for the women that inspire us, and invite you all to get involved. We want to join together with the women of Domasi to talk about women who inspire us, and to thank these women for their hard work which is often carried out in adversity. We are asking you to take 2 minutes out of your busy schedule to post a picture of yourself holding a sign about a woman/group of women/female achievement that you feel inspired by, using the hashtag #HighlightHer2016. We will then pool these together to create a video to show to the women of Domasi, and hope to receive one from Domasi, to share here in the UK.

Whether you’re inspired by Nobel Prize winners, teachers or your neighbour’s niece, we want to know about all of these important ladies, and share their inspirational spirit with the world. You can post your picture on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, using the all-important hashtag #HighlightHer2016, and we will collate all of your efforts into one beautiful montage.

However, while this task is light-hearted and celebratory, it is important to remember that, worldwide, women are more likely to live in poverty purely because they are women. On the whole, they have less access to education, property and income, and have less of a chance to voice their political and social concerns and beliefs, in the face of oppression.

It is important to remember that although women’s rights are relatively progressive here in the UK, the case is not the same for many countries and communities. Annually, 15 million girls are married before the age of 18, and it is predicted that there are 700 million women alive who were married before their 18th birthday. In Malawi, 50% of girls fall into this category, with 12% married before the legal marital age of 15 years old (the minimum age was only raised to 18 in early 2015, so we are yet to see whether this will impact the number of child marriages in the country, particularly in rural communities where the new legalities may not be acknowledged, or communicated effectively).

Raising awareness of these issues, and striving to combat them, through events such as International Women’s Day, and through setting goals such as the SDGs, can have a huge impact. Let’s all be a part of making those changes – for mothers, daughters and sisters all over the world.

Get posting your #HighlightHer2016 pictures, and encourage your friends to do the same.

For more information on the SDGs, and the Gender Goal, take a look at this article: http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/women-and-the-sdgs/sdg-5-gender-equality

For more on child marriage, take a look at this NGO: http://www.girlsnotbrides.org/

#HighlightHer2016 #InternationalWomensDay #PledgeForParity #EndChildMarriage #RightsForWomen

Written by Lauren Dowell


24
Feb

Introducing Lauren Dowell, our volunteer content writer

Introducing the newest addition to the Community Highlight team; Lauren Dowell, our volunteer content writer.

Lauren lives in Manchester and is a Religious Studies Graduate with experience in development work, fundraising and volunteer management. Lauren also has a Girlguiding UK Leadership Qualification and is a great lover of the indoors. She sees Mary Berry as a real inspiration.

We are very excited to have her on board and to be using her skills and knowledge to develop our growing organisation. Big thank you to you Lauren!


23
Feb

Meet Cat Cheese, our new curriculum editor and writer

Introducing, Cat Cheese!

We are extremely excited to be working with the wonderful Cat Cheese to re-write our school curriculum.

Cat was a volunteer over in Domasi in 2013 and worked alongside Emma and Michael. Having spent time teaching in Malaysia Cat is now based in Bristol, teaching English as a supply teacher in local schools.

We are very excited to update you on our progress over the next few months but want to say a big thank you to Cat for using her time and knowledge to assist our children in Domasi


21
Jan

Meet Edith, our new substitute teacher

Meet our first new addition of 2016; substitute teacher Edith.

Edith is a mother of five from Nsangeni Village. She has volunteered with us for several months and we have now offered her a job as a substitute teacher.

In this role Edith will act as cover for any of our teachers or feeding program staff who are unable to work due to sickness or personal reasons. This not only allows our hard-working staff the opportunity to take days off when they are not well but it also means our children will not suffer when teachers and cooks are absent; they will still receive their education and school meal every day.

When Edith is not needed for cover work she will be used as a teaching assistant; taking children out for one-on-one support or helping to separate the often large classes into smaller groups thus creating a better learning environment.

We are very excited to have Edith on board and can't wait to see her progress further as a teacher.


21
Jan

Community Highlight Garden

We are delighted to announce that we now have a 'Community Highlight' garden that we will use to generate income for the organisation!

A huge thank you goes out to all the members of our management team and our teachers for their hard work on the garden so far; here are some photos of the weeding process and the staff applying fertiliser.

The garden will allow us to raise funds for the general running of our projects; thus promoting our sustainability and allowing us to continue supporting those in need in our community.

We look forward to updating you on the progress of our garden soon...


31
Dec

Happy New Year!

The whole Community Highlight Team would like to wish you all a very happy Christmas and a wonderful start to 2016.

Thank you for all your support this year; it's been hugely exciting for all of us since we were officially registered as a Malawian NGO in May and we are thrilled by the progress we have made already.

As well as continuing to successfully run our four village schools and feed over 200 children a day we have achieved a lot in what has been a difficult 7 months for the people of Malawi, including:

But without the help of our supporters none of this would've been possible. We cannot thank you enough for your support, your kindness and your generosity in 2015. We cannot wait to make 2016 an even better year for our community out in Domasi as we grow further and work towards sustainability.

  • Flood fund - Using our flood fund to supply 21 people with desperately needed fertilizer, as well as essential training on how to use it efficiently and effectively. We also provided 40 families with 25kg of maize between them to help protect their food security during the current crisis.
  • HIV Awareness Events - Hosted and funded two HIV awareness events in Matuta Village on World AIDS Day and Ntwichi village in June. These events allowed 67 people to test themselves for HIV; a hugely empowering thing for the remote, rural communities we work with.
  • School maintenance - Made our schools safe and rain-proof to allow our children to continue receiving an education throughout the upcoming 'rainy season'.
  • Re-built school floors - Re-built the floors of Nsangeni School and Namalaka School to provide our children with safer, cleaner and more productive learning environments.
  • Nsangeni Support Group's Land - Bought our Nsangeni Support Group a plot of land to allow them to start growing their own groundnuts and crops and provided them with maize and fertiliser to increase their yields and ensure food security.
  • Kadaya Family Business - Provided the Kadaya Family with a new business; allowing Ellen to earn enough money to be able to support her family in a sustainable and safe way.
  • Alice Chomboto - Saw Alice Chomboto, another one of our sponsored children, pass all her exams and achieve the grades to allow her to apply for university.
  • Prepared villagers for rain season - Provided 94 families with plastic roofing; allowing them to keep their homes safe and dry as we approach rain season.

11
Jan

COMMUNITY HIGHLIGHT CHRISTMAS GIFTS

This festive period we are launching our very own gift range! Give something this Christmas that will really make a difference to people in need. Our gifts cost as little as 10p and will truly benefit the people of Domasi. Have a look at all of our gifts on offer then email us at info.communityhighlight@gmail.com to buy your gift today!




 

A bag of fertiliser - £10

The money for this gift will go towards a bag of fertiliser for a local family.

This will allow a family to increase their crop yields and improve their food security.

This gift could be particularly important this year as Malawi is facing its worst food crisis in over a decade. More than 2.8 million people will face hunger between October and March following severe floods and drought that ruined this year’s harvest. The floods early this year were the worst in living memory in Malawi; fertile land was ruining and homes and food stocks were washed away. Some crops managed to withstand the floods only to succumb to intense dry spells in the following months, making survival even more difficult for some of our families in Domasi.

By giving this gift you can help to alleviate the struggle for a family in our community.

On purchasing this gift we will post a gift card to the address you give us. The card will include details of the gift and a personalised message.

A goat - £20

The money for this gift will buy a goat for a local family.

Goats can be extremely beneficial for our families out in Domasi. A goat can be used for food; helping to fight malnutrition, it can also provide crop-boosting manure and if bred the goats can be sold; thus improving the lives of further families in the community.

By giving this gift you can help fight malnutrition, hunger and poverty in Domasi.

On purchasing this gift we will post a gift card to the address you give us. The card will include details of the gift and a personalised message.

A pair of rabbits - £2 each (minimum 2)

The money for this gift will buy a rabbit for a local family.

We ask for a minimum of two rabbits for this gift as a pair can generate more benefits for the family receiving them. The rabbits you give can be bred; they can then be sold or eaten.

By giving this gift you can help a family start up a business and improve their food security; something that is particularly important this year due to the current food crisis.

On purchasing this gift we will post a gift card to the address you give us. The card will include details of the gift and a personalised message.

A bicycle- £60

The money for this gift will buy a bicycle or ‘njinga’ in Chichewa.

We donate bikes to needy families as a way of creating an income for the family. The family are given the bike and are then encouraged to rent this bike out to local Njinga (bicycle) drivers who carry people around the area for a small fee. This means that the donation of a bike benefits the family by creating an income. It also benefits the njinga driver by providing a job opportunity thus improving the wealth of the community and having a great socio-economic impact.

The bicycles can also be used to transport crops to and from markets and in emergencies; to take people to and from hospital when other modes of transport are unaffordable.

In the UK we often take bikes for granted but for the people of Domasi this gift is invaluable.

On purchasing this gift we will post a gift card to the address you give us. The card will include details of the gift and a personalised message.

‘Yaki’ toys- £3.50 each

The money for this gift will buy a handmade cuddly toy that will help raise money for our projects out in Domasi.

Made by local woman Mrs Yaki, these toys provide us with funds that we can then put into the various projects we run out in Malawi. As well as running our four village schools we also invest in HIV awareness, run a feeding program for over 200 children and support local families in need. To find out more about our projects explore our website.

By giving this gift you can help Community Highlight as we strive to alleviate poverty in rural Domasi.

On purchasing this gift we will post a gift card to the address you give us. The card will include details of the gift and a personalised message.

If you have a certain project you would like your money to go towards please let us know.

School supplies- £15

The money for this gift will go towards school supplies for our four village schools.

We run four schools in Namalaka village, Hayo village, Nsangeni village and Chinyangala village. In order to keep our schools running we are constantly in need of school materials such as pens, paper, books, chalk etc.

By giving this gift you will help us empower Malawi through education.

On purchasing this gift we will post a gift card to the address you give us. The card will include details of the gift and a personalised message.

If you would like to make a bigger contribution to one of our schools or would like to donate your item to one school in particular please let us know.

School meals- 10p per bowl

The money for this gift will go towards our feeding program.

The feeding program is a great way to encourage children to attend our morning classes where they develop skills to ease them into primary school.

It also encourages parents to send their children to school and eases their worries of having to provide breakfast for their children. Furthermore, chronic malnutrition plagues Malawi resulting in almost half of the children under-five years being stunted. By ensuring that the children in our schools have at least one nutritious meal a day we're taking the first steps towards stunting prevention.

We can feed a child for just 10p so for every bowl you purchase you will feed another child.

By giving this gift you will help to fight malnourishment and encourage education in Domasi.

On purchasing this gift we will post a gift card to the address you give us. The card will include details of the gift and a personalised message.

Plastic roof protectors - £5

The money for this gift will go towards plastic sheets that act as roof protectors.

Plastic sheets help to protect houses from the rain; this gift could be another one that is particularly important this year as 2015 has provided Malawi with erratic, unpredictable weather patterns that has led to the worst food crisis in over a decade.

These plastic sheets will protect a family’s home from heavy rainfall and help to keep our community safe, dry and protected as the rainy season approaches.

By giving this gift you will help to protect the families of Domasi from devastating weather conditions.

On purchasing this gift we will post a gift card to the address you give us. The card will include details of the gift and a personalised message.

If you are interested in buying any of our gifts this Christmas or have any questions regarding purchases email Evie at info.communityhighlight@gmail.com

Zikomo Kwambiri and Happy Christmas!


11
Jan

HELPING THE FLOOD VICTIMS

Here is a little update on how our flood fundraising money is going to be spent!



Last year Malawi was hit by flash floods and this had disastrous effects on the lives of many Malawians. A lot of damage was caused to house with some people losing their homes completely. As if that wasn't bad enough the flooding followed by sparse and sporadic rain meant that all the maize grown did not mature leaving many Malawians with a bleak year ahead having not enough maize to last them to their next harvest. We have been raising money in order to do what we can to support those affected by the floods in any way we can. Our plans are too rebuild and repair what homes we can as well as providing what we call ‘backyard gardens’ These are small manageable gardens that can be made outside people’s homes meaning they can be watered from the local tap or well . We provide seeds, fertilizer so that they can grow their own food, some they will use for food and the rest they will sell in order to buy other essentials such as soap and other items.