In the coming year, one of Determined to Develop’s (D2D) goals will be to give all sponsored women’s empowerment groups complete independence in operation. This means that they will be truly sustainable. From the revolving goat groups to each of the small business groups, D2D is highlighting for the women just how far they have come over the years and the ability each group has to spread their wings and maintain their sustainable ventures. Together, D2D staff members formulated a program to undertake this process. The first part of this process involved separate surveys for each group; asking the women a series of questions in order to create workshops which would focus on each issue raised by the different groups and how they could overcome them all to become independent.
D2D is currently hosting a student from the University of Delaware who is assisting with our independence drive for the women’s groups. Megan Masterson is in her final year and is spending her last winter session during school in Malawi. Megan is majoring in International Relations with a concentration in Africa and Development and minoring in Women’s Studies and Leadership. Her degree focus, combined with her passion for her field, made the perfect combination to team her up with our Malawian staff. Megan and our staff conducted the initial surveys, building a list of questions which pertained to each group. After traveling to all the groups and receiving their feedback, Megan composed several workshops which spoke to what it was the women felt could hinder their independence, customizing each leadership session to combat those fears.
In total, Megan built seven different lessons. A lesson on ownership and sustainability, resource and monetary management, problem solving and teamwork, leadership, marketing, and one focused entirely on empowerment. This past week, Megan and the other female staff members have spent every day with a different group conducting the lessons. The lesson on empowerment has consistently been one of the most fruitful, and highly praised by the women. Throughout the lession, each member of the group shares what unique gift she brings to the group and how her gift makes their venture more enriching and successful. So far, every group has acknowledged that before the workshops, they felt very hesitant about maintaining their businesses on their own but afterwards, felt confident that they truly do have what it takes to continue profiting materially, mentally and spiritually from their group involvement.
Aside from what’s been going on with women’s empowerment, D2D is extremely eager about the changes being made and new investments taking place in girl’s empowerment. Last year, the organization saw that putting more resources and energy into local girls could prove to have highly effective and much needed positive results. As such, and with a refocus, D2D will shift priorities in 2018 toward empowering our young school-aged women through a more robust girl’s club, one-on-one mentoring with our staff of female interns and through material support that they were previously lacking. Last Saturday, D2D provided each sponsored girl with different essential items, informing them that they do not need to deter from the path of education and seek early marriage in order to have these needs fulfilled. Every girl was given a bar of soap, a container of Vaseline, a toothbrush, a tube of toothpaste and writing supplies for school. It was clear how meaningful the distribution of items to each girl as smiles filled the room. To many of our young people, these very basic health and hygiene items are simply too expensive and out of reach. The organization is hopeful that as the investment in girl’s empowerment continues to take place, lasting changes will unfold and impact each girl’s life and future for the better. And we look forward to keeping you updated as these changes unfold.