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Developing Creative Minds in Malawi

Project officer Lauryne Sembereka leads a discussion about Moyo Wanga - Kuyamira Pano - the Chichewa edition of Called to Care no. 8, My Life: Starting now.

By: Glen Williams.

A youth organisation in Malawi has published a Chichewa edition of a Called to Care training manual.

In Malawi, as in many other African countries, there is still a serious lack of information about HIV and AIDS, sex and gender issues, especially in local languages.  A small youth organisation in Blantyre, Youth Activists Initiative Organisation (YAIO), decided to confront this problem head-on.  Their motto, ‘Developing Creative Minds’, is an apt description of their ideals.

Despite having no publishing experience, YAIO applied to the German Catholic aid agency, Misereor, for financial assistance to translate and publish an edition of Called to Care workbook no. 8, My Life – Starting Now, in the main local language, Chichewa.  Misereor gave their grant application serious consideration, and asked some tough questions about the budget and the workplan.  They then decided to fund the project. Six months later, in November 2015, YAIO was able to publish Moyo Wanga – Kuyambira Pano, using the same line drawings as in the original manual.  The print-run was 5,000 copies.

To download the whole book, please click here.

In the past year, YAIO has embarked on a whirlwind of activities to promote and distribute the Moyo Wanga manual, and to put together a broad coalition of partners who are using the manual in their educational programmes.  The most prominent members of this coalition are two church bodies: the Catholic Health Commission and the Protestant Church known as the Blantyre Synod. 

Many other, much smaller, organisations are involved in using Moyo Wanga as the centrepiece of their training activities for young people.  These include, for example, development organisations and networks, churches and faith-based organisations, primary and secondary schools, NGOs and community-based organisations, youth clubs and reform centres for children with troublesome personal histories.  By August 2016, nearly 4,000 copies of Moyo Wanga had been distributed to a total of 659 different organisations, mostly in the southern third of Malawi. 

A training workshop brainstorming session.

Feedback on the manual has been overwhelmingly positive.  For example, after attending a two-day training workshop using the manual, Chikondi Kagona from Nkhumbu Youth Club said:

“We really learned a lot of things from the book, which we are going to use in our communities.  I feel transformed as a person after attending this workshop.  I am hoping to inspire others with the information I got from here.”

Raphael Felix from Mlambe Youth Club said: “There are many things affecting young people’s lives, and through the manual we have learned how to deal with the challenges affecting young people in particular.  I will now be able to use the manual with my friends at our club.  During the training we also discussed the roles and responsibilities of parents towards their children.” 

The Director of YAIO, Tony Khanyepa, feels that the Moyo Wanga manual is achieving its objectives:

“Before this training manual, there was no such material available in our national language, Chichewa, with a special emphasis on young people.  This manual is enabling young people to translate things from theory into practice.  It is also helping youth organisations, community groups, faith-based organisations and schools to respond to young people’s needs for practical information about threats to their health, such as HIV and AIDS, drugs, tobacco and alcohol.”

There is now an urgent need to increase the number of people trained in the skills needed to organise training workshops for large groups of young people, using the Moyo Wanga manual.  There is an equally great need for many more trainers of parents and guardians of young people.

For additional information, please see
YAIO’s Annual Progress Report on the Moyo Wanga project.