By Siku Nkhoma, CCODE Malawi
In 2006, the Malawi SDI Alliance travelled to South Luangwa, Zambia on an income generation exchange. During their time in Zambia, the Alliance visited a community led eco-tourism centre and the famed Tribal Textiles centre. The federation women were convinced that these strategies could be adopted by the Malawi federation as a means of income generation, but enthusiasm dwindled as there was no champion of the effort.
This began to change after a follow up visit was organized in 2009. A group of women from Mtandire, the second largest informal settlement in Lilongwe and home to the first group of the Malawi Federation, returned to Zambia with determination to launch a similar income generation project in Malawi. Many of these women helped found the Federation in Malawi and are aware of the empowering effects of mobilization. So when CCODE, the Federation’s support NGO, informed them that there was no money to undertake such a project, they decided that they would do the training by contributing some of their own resources. Thus, from January to December 2010 the members participated in training under the tutelage of Mai Barbara. Many women who had never had chance of attending school got exposed to the basics of measurement, writing and designing. By December 2010, fifteen women received certificates upon successful completion of the training. To date, these 15 women make up the five groups, each comprised of three members, operating in the center. They are able to produce batiks of very high quality, ranging from wall hangings, cushion covers, aprons, tablemats, table runners and more. The fact that these women now have a sustainable income from the sales of these products is life-changing, as over half of them are single mothers or widows responsible for the welfare of their families.