Women Making a Difference Meeting - Report from Malawi

There was a Women Making a Difference Meeting on Saturday 18 April 2015 in Chester.  After introducing ourselves to each other Susan Flynn gave a report on her recent visit to Malawi.  During her visit she visited each of the three groups twice as well as organising and attending the 6 monthly women's meeting and a Malawi Trustees meeting.  The Chilomoni Group has 12 women in it and three tailors.  The Soche East Group has eight (8) women and the Ndirandi Group ten (10) women.  The standard of goods that they had been making for the UK and Malawi shops was good.  The aim of the 6 monthly women's meeting is to help empower the women.  Their fares are paid so that they can get to the meeting and refreshments are provided.  The March meeting is an informal one where the women split into groups to share ideas and get to know each other better.  The September meeting is a more formal one with the Chanasa AGM.  For the first time the Ndirandi Group offered and organized the refreshments for all the women.  The women liked the idea of a competition between the groups with a money prize to go to the best group. The women helped to decide the criteria by which the prize would be awarded.  They also discussed what the Chanasa Fund money should be spent on.

Chifundo UK pays for three (3) ladies each year to undertake a course at the Beehive Tailoring School.  Susan Flynn spent some time talking to the women who have competed this course to ensure they are now supporting the other women.  Susan was able to get an order from a new shop in Malawi and two new orders from existing outlets.  There was a request for a men's apron and for a baby's bib/tabard which is being worked on.  Susan met with two Malawian Soroptimists and one of them, Judith Penchirwa, has agreed to become a trustee of Chanasa.  We are hopeful that the wife of the British Deputy High Commissioner will also become a trustee of Chanasa.  Susan also did some follow up work for the SOKO Fund and visited the URC projects running with the Churches of Christ.  There were some issues with the timings of meetings having to be moved for various reasons which was difficult for Susan.  However, they did all happen!  The Soche East Group is not functioning well as a group and Alice needs to work with them to address this.  Alice also needs to work more as the link between the groups and the Chanasa Trustees.  The priorities in Malawi are to find a Chairwoman who will help the trustees work together and to find an grant organisation willing to fund a Malawian development worker.  The priority in the UK is to find some more speaking engagements or stall opportunities for the summer of 2015.  A major event planned is the joint fundraising concert with the Chester Soroptimists on Friday 9 October 2015 in Chester.  The meeting closed with questions and with a delicious lunch for those who were able to stay.