In 2008 we formed our sister centre in Malawi. In a culture that is very hierarchical
and patriarchal to have something that provides emotional and social support (as
opposed to medical support) to women and families was a new concept.
This is particularly so within Malawian culture as the women’s role is to take care
of everything within the family (this includes extended family) without question.
The new centre provides a nursery for up to 60 children and also provided support
groups for some of the parents where they learn basic health care amongst other things.
Some of the customs and rituals that discriminate against women are still prevalent
and one of the main causes of the spread of HIV/AIDS.
The women and particularly the younger women are now beginning to stand up and say
no to these, for example wife inheritance, death cleansing and sexual initiation
from being a girl to becoming a woman.
The parents at Stepping Forward have been raising money through their ‘porridge fund’
(which is collecting pennies), so far they have raised £200 to help build a wall
for the nursery garden so the children can be safe and £150 to help build a separate
Due to severe economic conditions in Malawi now, the parents at Stepping Forward
are continuing to collect to provide much needed fertilizer so the staff can continue
to grow the vegetables and oats. This ensures that the children have at least one
meal a day.