by Victor Katchika-Jere
A sight that is becoming traditional to any person who knows about the activities of A Self-help Assistance Program (ASAP) Africa Malawi, yet a sight that one fails to get used to: men and especially women dancing and singing, or smiling broadly for the whole day in a community where there is little to smile let alone laugh about.
Business was brought to a standstill at Feremu area in traditional authority Mlauli in Neno district on Friday, February 11, 2011 as all roads led to Chimbamira primary school grounds where ninety-four VS&L members from ten groups shared among themselves MK 1,300,000 after nine months of disciplined savings mobilization.
“We were very skeptical when we first heard what ASAP Africa Malawi staff was touting as a very beneficial project,” Group Village Headman Feremu recounted his and his subjects’ first reaction to the introduction of the CCP in the area. “But now, we are fully convinced that no better project could have been introduced in my area! Who had the slightest idea that my subjects would be able to save such a whooping sum of money in less than a year?”
The District Commissioner for Neno District Council, Mr Lawford Palani was lost for words. “After everything is said and done I would like to assure ASAP Africa Malawi management that I am their number one fan!” he exclaimed amid applause from the guests and ululation from the women who graced the occasion. Among these were the traditional authority (T/A) Mlauli, Group Village Heads and Village Heads. He then appealed to ASAP Africa Malawi management to expand the CCP project to more areas within the district
Ten groups comprising seventy-eight women and sixteen men shared out MK1, 300, 000 after running their VSL activities since June 2010.
“It is always pleasing and encouraging to see women and men celebrating their achievement with such pomp and style as evidenced here,” the Country Director for ASAP Africa Malawi, Mr Victor Katchika-Jere, said. “This is a demonstration that given the much-needed skills communities can develop confidence that can lead to self-reliance.” He continued: “We appreciate the goodwill the DC and the TA have shown towards ASAP Africa Malawi by gracing this occasion, and also for permitting us to work in this area where there is no other NGO.”
ASAP Africa Malawi currently works in the areas of Group Village Headmen Feremu and Nsalawatha but is fast expanding to other areas of Neno District. The event featured in the main news bulletins on two radio stations with national coverage.