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

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid