Encouraging reports have been coming since our March/April 2017 time in Malawi, Africa. The PantiPlus women’s sewing teams are taking shape. Our month there was divided up among each of the sewing teams so we would have plenty of time to work together, fine-tuning sewing skills, teaching marketing technique, and management of supplies, time, funds and PantiPack components. The Teams have established work schedules, keep attendance, set goals. They are really getting organized! These are creative, capable women who, given this opportunity, are showing they are willing to work hard and work together to benefit the group which in turn benefits them and their families.
So far forty-two women, mostly widows, make up these four teams that are producing PantiPlus products.
While we were there three women approached us at separate times wanting very much to learn and join one of the Teams. They each spent a day or two with us and it was apparent how determined they were, but distance to the Team was an obstacle since travel is on foot. We didn’t let that stop us though. Two of the women are sewing in their homes on treadle machines and have gone from being non-sewers to the producers of almost 2,000 Pads each so far!
The third woman was set up in her home with a table, bins, scissors and patterns and now cuts the fabric used by these two women and one of the teams.
One woman’s children were eating corn stalks from a field because they had nothing else. The other widow tried to earn money to feed her family by sweeping up sand along the roadside and selling it to anyone making bricks. Our in-country Coordinator tells me I would be amazed by the difference this opportunity has made for these families.
Our objective is that everything we do fills a need for as many people as possible, whether its physically, educationally or spiritually.
We met with a local orphanage and found that most of the girls do not attend school regularly because they have no underwear and no way to manage their menstrual cycle.
We offered to provide the orphanage with 200 complete PantiPacks within 6 weeks. The products the Sewing Teams producing would be purchased from them through donations to PantiPlus and they would be given free of charge to the orphanage girls making it possible for them to attend school.
That distribution of PantiPacks has been completed and was a definite success. This connection has also given Pastor Wyson the opportunity to minister to these children on his follow-up visits with them. We will follow up with them on our next trip.
Word travels fast in Malawi. The Minister of Home Affairs contacted us about an orphanage where 700 PantiPacks are desperately needed. The Sewing Teams welcomed the challenge. This will be done in three separate distributions giving the women time to produce the products.
We know this is only the beginning.
While in the Machinga School District we were able to attend a four-hour Boy Champions class. (This is also an Everyday Women, Inc. program. Visit our website: http://boychampions.com/ ) They demonstrated what they are learning about respectful, non-violent interactions with girls and the negative affect alcohol, drugs and violence can have on their lives. So happy to see the positive effect this is having on the boys.
Back home there is much to do to put together the support and supplies it takes to make these two valuable programs work but I’m anxious to return to Malawi again, see everyone and continue our work there.
I hope you've enjoyed this trip report and will continue to follow our program.