Chifundo UK Newsletter December 2022

"At this Christmas time of year, we thought we would update all our supporters on the work of Chifundo UK and Chanasa in Malawi.

In Malawi the six (6) sewing groups currently have 53 women belonging to them.

They have been busy this year, mainly with the Lotus Project, but have also made 400 tote bags for the Irish Embassy and 200 tote bags for a conference run by Trocaire in Malawi about Gender Violence.

One of our sewing group ladies has completed the year long Tailoring Certificate Course and eight (8) have completed the 3 month Informal Course, all run by the Beehive Tailoring School.

In January 2022 we sent a barrel to Malawi full of panties (for the Lotus Project) and some sewing equipment and supplies.  The women then made a large number of bags, aprons, necklaces etc which were packed back in the barrel and, with the help of the Beehive, this was transported back to the UK.  The barrel is now on its way back to Malawi full again of panties (supplied by Smalls for All and again for the Lotus Project) plus scissors, pins etc.

The Lotus Project (which gives washable sanitary pads and training to girls in schools) has taken place this year at Mbayani School, a large school in Ndirande.  Between January and May this year some 772 girls were each given a Lotus Pack and menstrual training.  Boys, mothers and staff were also trained and mothers were shown how to make pads.  In September we started work at Nkolokoti School, another large school just outside Blantyre. It has so many children that 2,500 attend from 6am to noon and another 2,500 from noon to 6pm.  So far we have trained 578 girls at this school with several hundred more arranged for the New Year.  Overall the Lotus Project has reached 3,300 girls at 13 different schools to date, an amazing achievement.

Here in the UK, Women Making a Difference have been able to hold events again and held a very successful Coffee morning in September and Craft Fair in November as well as having stalls at various other events.

We are grateful for the regular and one-off donations that we have received through the year and it is thanks to these that the work in Malawi is able to continue.  The economic situation in Malawi is very difficult due to world events so we are very pleased that this year we have been able to pay both an Easter bonus of £5 and a Christmas bonus of £12.50 to each of the ladies in our sewing groups.  This is the first time we have paid an Easter bonus while the Christmas bonus is 25% higher than we gave them in 2021.  The extra money will mean a lot to the ladies and help them to cope better with whatever is important to them.

Susan Flynn, the founder and driving force behind the two charities had to step back at the start of the year for health reasons.  She is a lot better now and is helping at events and behind the scenes but is not able to do as much as she used to. Looking ahead, we are hoping to have a gathering in Chester next year and the sewing group are designing a Lotus Flower Bag to be sold in aid of the Lotus Project.

At this Christmas time of year I want to thank you for your support in 2022 and especially for enabling Chifundo UK to bring hope and work and dignity to women and girls in Malawi."

Lynn Walton