News / Africa

Malawian Women Share their Life Stories

Lameck Masina
In Malawi, an American organization, VoiceFlame, is leading an effort to make the voices of women heard -- through writing their own stories.  The group seeks to empower girls and women by supporting education, writing and other forms of creative expression.

Chief Executive Officer for the organization, Mary Tuchscherer, said she got the idea during her first visit to the country six years ago.
 
“I travelled to Malawi for the first time in 2007," she said, "and one of the first things I learned is that it’s not common for women to write here, and there were very few, if any, women published authors. I realized that since I teach writing, I could bring something back to the women if they were interested in telling their stories as a way of empowering them and helping them understand that their [lives] matter and that other people [around] the world want to hear about their stories.”
 
She began asking women if they would be interested in telling their stories or learning to write them.

Malawian women attend a writing workshop in Blantyre (Photo Courtesy: M. Tuchscherer)Malawian women attend a writing workshop in Blantyre (Photo Courtesy: M. Tuchscherer)
x
Malawian women attend a writing workshop in Blantyre (Photo Courtesy: M. Tuchscherer)
Malawian women attend a writing workshop in Blantyre (Photo Courtesy: M. Tuchscherer)
“And they said ‘yes.' So before I left Malawi I made a commitment to come back in 18 months, and I would bring eight women from North America with me, and we would all write together,”  said Tuchscherer.
 
She said on her second trip, over 100 women participated in the writing workshop where they exchanged stories and learned  to shared experiences as women, mothers and grandmothers.  The were encouraged to write on any issue they deemed comfortable to share with friends. Many of them discussed household issues and motherhood. 
 
Sue McCollum, the Chief Operating Officer for VoiceFlame,  said the resulting material is now available to readers everywhere.
 
“We have published one book ‘Nda Ku Ona’ [‘I See You With My Heart’] an anthology of women’s stories,"  she explained.  "We are [also] beginning something new on our website called ‘She Writes, She Speaks,’ and we are going to invite Malawian women to send us stories that they have written and we will [put them] on our website.  We want to educate through this. Our vision is to see women in Malawi writing and empowering each other and offering strength to each other."
 
McCollum says the organization has so far trained 11 Malawian women from various professional backgrounds as local trainers in an effort to keep the project running smoothly.
 
They also help write the accounts of women who are not literate.  
 
Cheu Mita, a journalist with the country’s daily The Nation, is one of the trainers. She said the effort is helping women open up and even turn into good news sources.

Local trainer Cheu Mita (left) and Mary Tuchscherer coaching women magazine vendors in Blantyre. (Photo Courtesy M. Tuchscherer)Local trainer Cheu Mita (left) and Mary Tuchscherer coaching women magazine vendors in Blantyre. (Photo Courtesy M. Tuchscherer)
x
Local trainer Cheu Mita (left) and Mary Tuchscherer coaching women magazine vendors in Blantyre. (Photo Courtesy M. Tuchscherer)
Local trainer Cheu Mita (left) and Mary Tuchscherer coaching women magazine vendors in Blantyre. (Photo Courtesy M. Tuchscherer)
“Usually when we go out even as journalists we are not able to get the stories of the women,"  she said.  "In our societies and culture, we make women sit in the back so we go to the men, and they always give us stories. It’s high time that we start looking at women and try to make them give us more information”.

She said if the initiative spreads, it will help to bring women together, allow them to socialize and to tell stories. 
 
Mphatso Kaipa is one of the young women who attended the writing sessions.
 
“It was exciting," she said, "to have an opportunity to express openly what is in the heart and letting them out for others to hear. I wasn’t thinking myself of being a writer, but now I have confidence that I can write and am writing “
 
Founded in 2004 by in the San Francisco Bay Area in the United States, VoiceFlame has so far reached over 1,000 women and girls in Malawi.  By 2016, it plans to reach out specifically to 4,000 women writers and another 40, 000 women who will potentially read the articles, and learn from them.

Listen to report on writing project in Malawi
Listen to report on writing project in Malawi i
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violencei
X
Lenny Ruvaga
November 27, 2014 7:05 PM
The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid