Empowering Communities in Africa

Ripple Africa is working with, and changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of Malawians mainly through our Environment projects but also our Education and Healthcare projects too.

The aim of Ripple Africa has always been to inspire local communities to become the change and the solution to the problem, and we’d like to introduce you to some of the incredible people who have embraced the change and are benefiting from the projects.

Custom Banda

“I have a large family to support and not just one household. I have two wives and eight children. Despite the challenges this brings, my fellow fishermen and I have achieved a lot because of this project.
I have been fishing for 22 years and have seen the decline in fish stocks in recent years. This is why I turned to using mosquito nets. Back in 2017 I was only making approximately 60,000MK (£65/$85) per month but we are now protecting the fish breeding area so the fish breed and grow. They then swim back in to the Lake so I am catching bigger fish and making an average of 350,000MK (£375/$475) a month.
I now use a 4½ inch net to catch large Chambo fish. I have caught and sold enough big fish to start building a brick house for one of my wives. This year I plan to have saved enough to build the second one. We currently live in reed-built houses.
Each week we are saving money in the village bank and we have paid to have bricks moulded, set up a rice and maize farming business, and paid secondary school fees for three of my children.
Life is so much better. The money I earn from fishing is split with my wives Maria and Janet who run the household budgets, and I manage the rest.”
Hundreds of mosquito nets sewn together to make huge fishing nets in Africa
Mosquito net fishing back in 2016
Fisherman Custom and his wife stand outside their reed shelter in Malawi
Custom and Janet at their reed home
By empowering this fisherman he has been able to build this brick house in Africa
Custom at his new brick home

Kettie Mkhaza

Kettie Mkhaza is 68 years old and is regarded as one of the village elders. She loves her Changu Changu Moto cookstove as it uses less wood and produces less smoke. She said, “Look at my age. I am living longer because there is oxygen in the air as we are preserving the forests. Our cookstoves are saving wood and saving lives.”
She cooks for her husband and seven grandchildren. She believes lives are saved because epilepsy is common in Malawi and she knows of neighbours who have had seizures and fallen in to a traditional three stone fires.  Because the Changu Changu Moto fuel-efficient cookstove contains the flames, there is substantially less risk.
Kettie has had her Changu Changu Moto for five years. Having to only collect mud from behind her house to maintain it, she loves it. She said, “It is so easy to build. There is nothing I don’t like. It cooks faster, there is less smoke and it is safer for my grandchildren.”

It is all about empowering communities in Africa. Click on Kettie’s photo to read about the Changu Changu Moto Fuel-efficient Cookstove project.

Clement Chirwa

Clement Chirwa has been a fisherman for seven years and, during that time, has often struggled to come home with a decent catch. In the past couple of years, his catch has improved enough so that he has been able to build his family a home with iron sheets, and pay for school uniforms for his four children. He is used to catching catfish so he was not expecting to catch a Chimwi fish nor one so big.
With only a dug-out canoe, Clement will venture into Lake Malawi during the early evening to set the hooks, returning the next morning. He said, “I was so excited when I saw the big fish. This is the first time that I have ever caught something so big. I usually only catch a few catfish, and sometimes I return empty handed.”
The Chimwi fish weighed 3.6 kg and measured 63 cm long, and Clement said, “People in the village were shocked to see such a big fish again. Many had not seen this species of fish for more than 15 years and for some it was their first time to see this fish.”

It is all about empowering communities in Africa. Click on Clement’s photo to read about the Fish Conservation project.

Blessings Mkandewiri

Blessings Mkandewiri is a tree farmer. He first became involved as he has seen the devastation caused by people irresponsibly cutting down trees to clear land for farming. So far Blessings has planted 500 pine trees and 10 orange trees, 10 tangerine trees, 10 improved mango trees and 100 guava trees. He is doing a wonderful job and is looking forward to planting many more trees.

Ripple Africa is keen for farmers to share and train others on how to plant trees.  This year, Blessings is going to be one of those farmers training other local farmers on how to set up a tree nursery and how to plant out. He said, “I am very passionate about tree planting. I like the pine trees but the fruit trees will also give my family and I food in the future. Any surplus I will be able to sell too.”

It is all about empowering communities in Africa. Click on Blessings’s photo to read about the Tree Planting project.

Zela Mwale

Zela Mwale is a Forest Conservation Committee member, educating others on the benefits of preserving the trees. She said, “I learnt about the importance of trees on the radio in 1987. I thought if I can protect my own trees, I will not have these problems. I decided then to create my own protected forestry area.
The problems associated with deforestation are obvious, soil erosion, which is causing silt in the lake. The distances and time women spend walking to find firewood could be spent with their families. The trees provide shade and they act as a wind break to protect our home. The leaves provide a natural and free fertiliser, enabling mushrooms to grow during the rainy season.
There was a lack on understanding in our community which is why I joined the Forest Conservation Committee that Ripple Africa created. We learn more about deforestation so we can encourage others to stop burning and cutting down trees.”

It is all about empowering communities in Africa. Click on Zela’s photo to read about the Forest Conservation project.

Ascherveen Chirwa

Ascherveen Chirwa joined the Disabilities and Rehabiliation at the age of 18 months old. He was born with Cerebral Palsy and is cared for by his grandmother. When he joined the group, he was unable to sit unaided but Matilda, the project coordinator, has dedicated time to teach his mother various exercises. It requires dedication from the guardians to find time out from their busy day to carry out the exercises but Ascherveen has had that fortune and he has not only learn to sit unaided but has also learnt to crawl. The next step is to help him learn to walk so a bespoke standing frame has been built and delivered to his house. He spends time across the day standing in it so he can build strength in his legs with the hope of him being able to walk in the future. His grandmother said, “I am so grateful for the support we receive from Matilda. She has helped us so much and we are working hard so that Ascherveen can one day walk. He loves playing with his cousins, and I believe he will reach this next milestone.”

It is all about empowering communities in Africa. Click on Ascherveen’s photo to read about the Disabilities and Rehabilitation project.

Kimi

Kimi is five-years-old and it takes him eight minutes to walk to pre-school. He enjoys learning especially the alphabet and numbers. His best friend is Kay. His mother Patricia believes that her son’s future is in schooling, so that eventually he can get a good job. She said, “Kimi likes the breakfast of sweet potato and tea, and making and playing with friends. Every day when he comes home, he tells me what he has learnt. I particularly like that he is taught how to write, how to behave ready for primary school and how they pray before meal time.”

The pre-schools are run by 27 Malawian teachers who are full of enthusiasm. They teach basic English and maths including the alphabet, numbers, days of the week and months of the year as well as basic hygiene such as how to wash their hands etc. Song and dance is a big part of any pre-school day too.

It is all about empowering communities in Africa. Click on Kimi’s photo to read more about the Pre-school project.