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

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora