Posted July 7, 2017

“If life is a journey, then the lifetime of every living being is a story worthy telling and sharing,” Sineya Banda said as she prepared to tell me about her life’s journey and how it has made her believe that everything in life has its own time.

Sineya was born 53 years ago and raised in a village in the rural, tobacco-growing district of Kasungu, Malawi. Similar to the experience of many girls in this area, Sineya’s parents didn’t prioritize girls’ education. She began school at the age of 11 and dropped out of school in standard two.

Posted June 6, 2017

Written By: Madalitso Banda

When Mary Phiri from the Kantimbo Village in Malawi became a member of M’deka Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) group way back in 2011, little did she know that her family would be living in an iron-roofed home using the money from her savings. Mary lost her husband in 2006, leaving her alone in a mud-made house with a grass, thatched roof, which often leaked during the rainy season. The 47-year-old could not imagine that just a few years later, she would become able to support herself and her four grandchildren, too.

Posted April 4, 2017

Written by: Madalitso Banda

Decades of experience have shown CARE that when you empower a woman or girl, she becomes a catalyst for change in her community. When you give her a chance to start a business, learn to read, or participate in politics, she can create ripples of change that lift up men, boys and communities as well.

Since 2009, CARE has helped empower women in the Kasungu District through village savings and loan associations (VSLAs). One such woman is Damalesi Phiri, a mother of three in the Kanyanda Village.

Posted December 12, 2016

Written By: Madalitso Banda

Mc Tan Chikakula, lives in Sapezeka Village a typical tobacco-growing community in Kasungu District, Malawi where men like him work hard with their wives and children on their tobacco farms. “There was poverty out here, since tobacco could no longer fetch good prices,” Mc Tan said. The challenges of the tobacco industry often contributed to broken homes: with tobacco prices dropping, all too many farmers spend what little money they have on alcohol, leaving their wives and families destitute.

Posted November 11, 2016

Written By: Madalitso Banda

“I thought I was strong, and all along I was telling myself it is going to be ok, and time after time when problems arose I could move on and put a brave face for the sake of my children, but things were getting worse as each day was passing by,” Liveness Nkhoma said, pausing to compose herself.

Posted November 11, 2016

In Malawi, especially in the rural areas, education is a luxury, especially for women. Many women who are in VSLAs are either primary school drop outs or if they completed standard eight they were unable to continue their education in secondary school because more often than not they lacked funds to continue to pay fees.

Posted September 9, 2016

Written By: Priscilla Sogah

It is a quarter past 10 in the morning and women, both young and old, are trouping to the community center in haste, chatting breezily, and faces full of joy.

It’s time for the Wende Panda Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) meeting at Aki Kouamekro, a cocoa farming community in the western part of Cote d’Ivoire. VSLA’s in West Africa, have become the backbone for economic growth in this community, especially for women, most of whom now earn their own income.

Posted June 6, 2016

Written By: Priscilla Sogah

Mother Turns Change Agent


After spending a day with the people of Aki Kouamikro, a small community in the Western part of Cote D’Ivoire, I learned an important lesson: One empowered woman means progress for all!

Meet Elizabeth Ahou Yao, an enterprising woman of 38 who has a family of four. Until just two months ago, Elizabeth was illiterate but with support from CARE, Elizabeth can now read and write.

Posted March 3, 2016

The CARE Ghana team was honored to recently host Ken Powell, CEO of General Mills, for a visit into the Ashanti Region of Ghana. During the visit, Mr. Powell met with cocoa farmers who are benefitting from CARE Ghana’s work in cocoa sustainability, which is supported by funders including General Mills and Cargill. The programs are aimed at sustainably improving the livelihoods and wellness of cocoa growers and their families in Ghana as well as Cote d’Ivoire.

Posted January 1, 2016

According to a recent study, Americans eat nearly 10 pounds of chocolate per person each year – and our appetite for it isn’t even as large as in Europe where the Swiss eat more than 20 lbs per person, with Germany and Austria close behind. Although I am very aware of having a serious sweet tooth, I had never given much thought to where chocolate – or the cocoa that it’s made from – comes from before I eat it.

Posted January 1, 2016

Born and raised in the tobacco growing district of Kasungu, popularly known as the golden leaf town, Shyleen Magwede was made to believe that tobacco was the only source of income and that no money was ‘sweeter' than that from tobacco sales. "Most members of the community considered money realized from the proceeds of other crops like groundnuts, soya beans, maize and vegetables to be as valueless as mere paper and that a man's status was determined by the acreage of tobacco he grows," she recalls.

Posted December 12, 2015

When communities unite, everything is possible. The Join My Village project team recently brought together all 70 Village Agents (VAs) and trained them in a necessary and sustainable practice: the production of re-usable sanitary pads.

Posted October 10, 2015

Veronique Pooda, 50, is a member of a Village Savings and Loan Association in Yaobabrikro, Côte d'Ivoire. Each week, group members contribute 100 francs. Every so often, members take turns taking out a small loan which they repay with interest at a future meeting thereby growing the fund.

Recently, Veronique received a loan to pay four people to clear the weeds from her farm where she grows maize, cassava, and peanuts for her family's food needs. She has also taken out a 15,000 franc loan to grow her small restaurant business.

Posted October 10, 2015

Sitting in the shade of tobacco plants in Kavalakwinda village helps keep the hot sun and dusty wind from our faces. "We are privileged to have a visitor like you today, and please feel at home," said Ligina Nabanda in her welcoming words as I put down my camera bag.

Ligina, has been married to her husband, Likiford Banda, for more than 20 years now, and they have seven children together. However, she's not his only wife. Polygamy, here in Malawi, is not unheard of but her complex marriage isn't the most unusual part of the story she tells me.

Posted August 8, 2015

Women produce half of the world's food – and up to 80% in some countries – but own less than 2% of the world's land. One of those women is Safia Adams who lives in the Ashanti region of Ghana. Safia, who is 50 years old, has worked for the past four years as a cocoa farmer. However, Safia doesn't own her farm: she's a sharecropper, which means that she works land she doesn't own and must share the yield with the landowner.

Posted July 7, 2015

"If it were not for the Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA), I would never own goats, send my children to school nor manage at least three meals a day," Alefa Pitilizani explains. Alefa, 37, prides herself on gains she has made from being a VSLA member. Together with other women from the Chikonda village in Kasungu district, Alefa helped form the Fatsani VSLA group in 2009 after learning from CARE staff, thanks to Join My Village, the benefits of group savings and lending.

Posted May 5, 2015

Unicky Malango is a unique woman with a distinctive leadership style. In a largely patriarchal society, Unicky has defied the odds by becoming a well-respected public figure. Her leadership prowess dates back to her primary school days. "I served as class monitor for a number of years before being elected a head prefect at Chaima Primary School," she recalls. The 40 year old single mother confesses that she never knew the leadership roles she held back then were just the beginning of more responsibilities.

Posted April 4, 2015

Eluby Banda, the Group Village Headwoman (GVH) of Simphasi leads her community without fear or favour. When she is dressed in her chief attire, no one dares to take her for granted because she means serious business. "During my early years of my chieftaincy, my fellow women and friends used to underrate me because they still had that memory of seeing me as a mere village woman. I noticed it and informed my counsellors to warn them that if they continue disrespecting me they will be fined either two chickens or a goat each," explained the 45 year old mother of six.

Posted April 4, 2015

Lucia Banda of Kayembe village moved from one family member's home to the next to help alleviate her parents' financial burden. When she started grade eight of primary school, her uncle, who worked in a shop in Kasungu town, allowed her to live with him so he could pay her school fees. Things looked promising when she first finished form one at Chankhanga secondary school, but soon after sitting for her form two National Examinations, Lucia's uncle told her that he would be unable to cover her school fees and that she would have to go back to the village and live with her parents.

Posted March 3, 2015

We are sitting comfortably on the veranda of a small house roofed with corrugated iron sheets. Rose Chidzawawa sits in front of me and to her left is Charity Phiri, my fellow pioneer of Join My Village (JMV) program in Kasungu.