The goal of Villages in Partnership is to eradicate extreme poverty, beginning in the rural villages of Sakata in Malawi, Africa. Extreme poverty is poverty that leads to hopelessness. It is caused by the lack of resources in six critical areas of our lives: food, water, education, medical care, infrastructure and economic opportunity. Without adequate resources in each of these areas, extreme poverty traps its victims in a vicious cycle that that they cannot break out of on their own.
We believe that the key to breaking the cycle of poverty is to address each of these six primary causes of extreme poverty simultaneously. It is not enough to address only one or two of these conditions; all six must be attacked at the same time in order to lift entire villages and areas out of this condition. Our goal is to move people from a survival mentality, to a mindset where they are secure enough to plan for the future and dream of success. They have the capacity, determination and desire to change.
What they lack are necessary critical resources, training and capital. They need outside partners to come alongside of them, to provide them with the resources and training necessary to lift themselves out of their present situation.
In just three short years, VIP and our partners at the BSHDC have developed a powerful system to address these 6 conditions, with the result that hundreds of children are now attending school, areas that have experienced perpetual hunger now have enough food, women and young girls are no longer walking hours each day to access clean water, and people are starting small businesses and taking advantage of previously unattainable economic opportunities.
The villagers identified clean, accessible water as their top priority. VIP has funded the construction of new wells and repaired numerous dysfunctional water points.
The villagers provide the land and dig the wells by hand; VIP provides the pumps and cement to cap the wells, and training on how to maintain the wells.
2. Food Security
VIP supplies hundreds of farmers with improved seed and fertilizers that provide increased crop yields and a buffer against future droughts. VIP distributes livestock – primarily goats and chickens – to hundreds of vulnerable families, which in turn provide eggs, meat and a source of much needed income. VIP provides equipment and training for irrigation projects that allow villagers to grow crops in the dry season. VIP trains villagers to use innovative house gardening techniques, where waste water is used to irrigate high nutrition vegetables in small gardens near homes. VIP provides training in fish farming, that creates job opportunities (selling fish at the market) and a source of a high protein to support a more well-balanced diet.
VIP has completed construction of the first block of a primary school in an area where most children have never attended school. VIP also provides training and resources for preschools led by volunteers giving children early childhood education.
Chimpeni School opened grades 1 and 2 for the first time on September 2012. The desks are overflowing with dreams of opportunity.
4. Health Care
VIP re-built the Kalupe clinic and funds a weekly health clinic as well as a nutrition program. VIP funds youth development projects that provide training and education on HIV/AIDS and other health-related issues as well as sanitation projects.
VIP re-built a collapsed bridge that acts as a central artery providing villagers with access to schools and markets. VIP is planting thousands of trees to fight deforestation as well as bringing treadle pumps for irrigation projects.
Maize mill – VIP is paying for electricity and equipment to be brought to the villages to construct and operate a maize mill. The maize mill grinds corn (maize) to make the flour used by Malawians in every meal. Without a maize mill, this is back-breaking and time-consuming work done by women. The maize mill will fundamentally change the way of life for rural Malawians.
6. Economic Development
VIP provides training for dozens of groups called Village Savings and Loan (VSL). Each VSL consists of 12-20 participants who pool their small amounts of disposable income, until together they have saved enough to make small loans to members of the group. Each member is responsible to re-pay the loan, with interest. At the end of the year, each member then receives back the amount they contributed, plus their share of the interest earned. In addition to providing some income, these VSLs provide the participants with training in savings, investment and basic banking, and encourage entrepreneurial activity and business development.