By Doreen Kumwenda Jephtar
Having come across the Movement of Life website and seen the excellent work it is doing in the world, especially its groundbreaking efforts in Uganda, I was determined to start a Movement of Life project in my country, Malawi, through my NGO the Emmanuel Foundation. My team and I decided to launch a community-based project, working with selected families in a village setting. Our aim was not only to promote good health through the home growing of micronutrient-rich fruits, vegetables, and medicinal plants, for domestic consumption, but also to teach the families how to sell their surplus produce to increase the family income.
The project involves working with one family from each small community, and teaching them the importance of micronutrients in maintaining good health. The families learn how to collect the seeds of plant foods that will thrive in the local conditions. We also teach them about nursery bedding, and how to raise and tend the plants using only natural methods, such as naturally prepared pesticides and natural manure, to grow healthy produce.
The most vulnerable families are chosen with the help of the village Headman, in consultation with the district council office responsible for the social welfare of families. These families are malnourished and unable to afford a proper meal every day. Rates of unemployment and illiteracy in Malawi are high, and an inability to find work to make a living results in destitution. The households singled out to participate in this project are therefore viewed as models for their entire communities. Through community leadership, other families are encouraged to learn from their example and grow crops of their own.
Because the project involves the use of purely natural approaches, participants are given the skills to make and use organic manures, organic pesticides based on chili and ash, as well as organic animal medicines. They are also taught the rudiments of small-scale agricultural processing.
The baleful consequences of poverty include not only diseases of malnutrition and infection, but also domestic violence. These things are endemic in Malawi. A project that results in improved immunity to infectious and non-infectious diseases, while at the same time improving incomes and lifting people out of poverty (one of the major drivers of domestic violence), will, over time, stabilize families, facilitating child education and better long-term health for all.
Thus far, seven families are participating in this life-changing project. They have all established gardens in which they grow fruit trees, vegetables, and medicinal plants. In just the first seven months of the project, approximately 200 fruit trees, 700 vegetable plants, and 50 medicinal plants have been established in the gardens of the seven demonstration homes.
The only hope for a fair and developed world lies in equipping communities with the necessary skills to produce their own high-quality food, grow sustainable micronutrient-based medicines, and utilize resources to generate wealth, rather than rely on hand-to-mouth donations of food and hard cash. Supported by the Dr. Rath Health Foundation, our Movement of Life community project is taking its first steps towards changing lives and making these things possible in Malawi.