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How We Work Determined to Develop Malawi

At Determined to Develop (D2D), we take a collaborative approach to our work, and believe that those who live in the area are best able to assess needs and create solutions for the community. We do not impose what we think should be solutions from the top-down, but rather work with community members from the ground-up. Our commitment to collaboration allows us to maximize impact and assist in the development of Chilumba in a responsible and positive way.

All our projects have community ownership, which is demonstrated in two ways:

First, communities are enlisted to identify their needs and solutions, which becomes the basis of our work. We participate in regular village needs assessment meetings attended by Village Headmen (chiefs), local village development committees, women’s groups, civil society leaders, and other community members. It is from these meetings that the concept, planning, and implementation stages of any of our projects begin. Furthermore, all work is vetted by community stakeholders.

Second, communities contribute to the running of each project. Our approach emphasizes the personal responsibility and accountability of all partners involved. This grassroots model for development utilizes local knowledge and ensures that we work in collaboration with traditional leaders and community-based networks, respecting cultural values and traditions. This process is assisted by the community liaison officer, who ensures that we stay fully engaged with everything taking place in the villages and vice versa.

We have expanded our programming, but maintain our focus on a relatively small geographic area of Chilumba, Malawi. Remaining a local organization has a number of benefits. We have developed a strong rapport with stakeholders in the area, which helps us to run our many projects effectively. Working on the ground also allows us to have close and on-going monitoring of all projects, and we pride ourselves on being able to adapt projects where necessary and learn through evaluation. This approach also ensures that all money donated is used in the most cost-effective way, as we have minimal overhead costs.

As a development organization, it is important to us that our initiatives are in-line with those of broader development strategies, both in the national and international context. These strategies include the Karonga District Development Plan, Malawi Growth and Development Strategy III, and the United Nation’s Standard Development Goals. Each of these strategies includes specific actions for improved youth education. By aligning our programs with the initiatives in these development strategies, we ensure that our programs are following the best fit for the development of Malawi.

Learn more about how D2D works by clicking below:

Determined to Develop Christopher and His New Chance at Life

Christopher and his new chance at life

It’s a beautiful Wednesday morning as everyone began their work. It’s August again; the time of the year when the kids are back from school and Maji Zuwa is full to the brim with the hustle and bustle of youth. Everyone looked busy as I entered my office to start work on that particular day. This August is going to be busy! Clemmie, our new project manager, had just arrived a week before from New Zealand and we were auditing and splitting responsibility for each of our projects so we could work together for a successful outcome.

Just as I got into the office, a relatively old lady followed me with a small boy. I definitely could tell from a distance that this was a school fees issue. But was it an ordinary one? That I could not tell. I sat down as I welcomed my visitors. I greeted them and asked them to tell me why they were here.

The woman introduced the boy as Christopher, a 14 year old boy who is her nephew. Chris is the only boy in a parentless family of three. He is the middle boy in the family. He lost his father and mother in 2010. The woman was a jobless mother of four, living in a nearby village in Thunduti. She was also looking after four orphans from her deceased siblings, one of which was Christopher. With no source of income she seemed to be really struggling. How she managed to take care of a family of eight, only God knows. One could feel the heavy load bestowed upon this soft-spoken lady.

She said that Christopher had excelled in primary school. She had never had troubles with him pertaining to his behavior in school or at home. Her worry was if she was going to be able to give the little boy the best education that he deserved.

Chris has written his Catholic Church primary school leaving exams and was one of the successful kids. He was selected to go to Chaminade Secondary School, one of the great national boarding schools in Malawi. As if that is not enough, Chris was also selected to go to St. Patrick’s Seminary School after writing the seminarian examinations. The competition in Malawi to get selected into a national boarding secondary school is fierce, and Christopher’s acceptance to two showed he’s exceptional. Here were the chances presenting themselves at the fingertips of a hopeless but hard working little boy. It was a blessing that left his poor aunt wondering, ‘where will I get school fees’?

The very same day I talked to Matt who had an interview with the young man and we were both impressed. He responded easily in the English interview and showed a desire to learn. However, it’s important that we follow the proper procedures before we make a final decision on school fee applicants. We needed approval from the community leaders, as well as Christopher’s teacher, to give us his background. We agreed to call the Primary Education Advisor for the Hangalawe Zone that Christopher came from.

The Primary Education Advisor looked into his database and ensured us that we would not be making a mistake by giving Christopher a chance. Perhaps this would be his once in a lifetime opportunity for a better education. In his long phone call, he also told us that Christopher was in position two for primary school exams in a zone of over three hundred kids and also position four in the seminarian exams attended by more than four hundred kids. We also got a letter from St. Anne’s Parish and the primary school from which Chris was selected, confirming that he was a brilliant boy that was in need of support. All was discussed with the parents in a quest to give Chris the best upbringing that he can have.

After telling the aunt that Christopher will be coming to Maji Zuwa and Determined to Develop will be able to help the boy, she looked happy and relieved. It was a like a huge load had been lifted from her shoulders. She now has no worries on how to get school fees for Christopher and can concentrate on the other orphans still remaining in her home that she struggles to care for. She promised to provide the necessary advice so that Christopher remains a hard worker and will achieve his dreams.

Christopher has abundant potential and Maji Zuwa could be the perfect place for this little boy. He loves English and Science and would like to be an engineer. He looks determined and ready to perfect his destiny and perhaps change the lives of those around him. Perhaps a future engineer is now in our midst here in the Chilumba area of Karonga District. We are all wishing him the best as he settles down at the Maji Zuwa campus with other boys and girls that we support. We wish him blessings as he prepares for his life and his rebirth into an environment of education in a few weeks when he starts high school.

If you would like to support our efforts to help students like Christopher have a chance at a future, please consider making a donation to Determined to Develop today. At this time of the year, our office has a line out the door of children like Christopher who have been selected to school but cannot pay the school tuition fees. Any amount will help those like Christopher who yearn for a stepping stone into a productive life.

By Christopher Chirambo, Administrative Coordinator for Determined to Develop

Tawonga chomene (We thank you)