skip to Main Content
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:

Determiend to Develop How Andrew Met His Future 1
Determiend to Develop How Andrew Met His Future 1
Determiend to Develop How Andrew Met His Future 3
Determiend to Develop How Andrew Met His Future 2
Determiend to Develop How Andrew Met His Future 1Determiend to Develop How Andrew Met His Future 3Determiend to Develop How Andrew Met His Future 2

How Andrew met his future

Often, people ask “how do you choose the kids you sponsor?”.

Around 7:00 AM came a boy with an old man. They sat on the benches at Maji Zuwa as I entered into my office. Within a minute I heard a knock: “Come in,” I replied, as I took my seat. Like any other day during this time of the year I knew the day would be busy. Usually I receive more than 50 people a day all asking for schools fees. Sometimes some would leave the office crying when I tell them to come the next day or tell them the chances are low that they would be accepted for a sponsorship – we just don’t have enough money.
Sometimes I leave the office with tears in my eyes recalling how life would continue to be for those not accepted for sponsorship. My main worry is a question that keeps baffling me: “where will they get help?” If it’s not from Matt through the non-profit charity Determined to Develop, then where else will they go? I witness the pain in the eyes of those not accepted. Sometimes I cry from the base of my heart feeling like I have not done enough. But it’s my job; I have a duty to fulfill for that matter: I am my brothers’ (and sister’s) keeper.

After taking a seat I welcomed the boy and the old man into my office and asked them why they had come. I had to ask even though it was well written on their faces that they were looking for help. Its cultural; one has to ask even if one already knows the answer. Then the young man started explaining his life story.

“I am Andrew, both my parents died a long time ago. I am 16 years old and I am in form 2 at Chilumba Secondary School. Right now I live with a family friend, this old man, who knew my family for years and years before my parents died. I am in problems. I am looking for school fees. Last term the deputy head teacher for my school helped me with the fees but now he is short of money. I have two sisters who are younger than me; me being the first born and oldest in our family.”

The boy looked well-behaved, intelligent and humble. Apparently, Andrew was the hope of the family. He was a little precious mineral that was hidden in the sands of poverty. My heart ached with pain because his timing was not in line with our program – we don’t typically start sponsorships in the middle of the school year or without a long background check with community leaders, chiefs, and teachers. And Matt was not around. How was I to solve the problem own my own? I needed him that day but, lucky he was to be back that evening. I said to Andrew and the old man, “Please come tomorrow; my boss will be back tomorrow and I will see if we can squeeze you through the program.”

The boy was not convinced as such a response is typically used in our culture when people want to say ‘no’ politely. Andrew looked depressed and without hope. I then saw tears begin to stream down his cheeks. The tears that he shed were a symbol of his desire and passion to make it someday – to be educated and productive and to provide for his family – but there was just little option and almost no hope.

The Malawi Red Cross, the only other charity within 80 miles, had closed their sponsorship program for the academic year so Determined to Develop was the last option. I wanted to cry too but I resisted. I wanted to hope alongside Andrew but I wasn’t sure if Matt would allow us to sponsor the boy. After all, we were already over-budget in sponsorships because of Matt’s continued “yes” when such cases came through the door. If need were an indication, we could finish fifty times our budget and still have a line of the most vulnerable, especially children, who still needed help. I prayed for a hopeful day that day and for one more “yes”.

The next day was rainy and I came into the office a little early, at 6:30am, because I wanted to connect with Matt, who had arrived during the night and was going away on a different project that morning. Just as I was to entered the office, I heard my name: ‘Mr. Chirambo!’ It was Andrew with his adopted guardian, the old man. I felt a tremendous sense of responsibility and pressure as I had given hope to these people the day before … but what if it doesn’t happen? After all, one cannot pull resources from thin air!

Matt arrived shortly after into his office and I went to meet him. As he was shuffling papers in a hurried manner, I explained the story of the boy and before I had asked anything from him he asked me to call the boy in so that he could speak with him. He talked to Andrew for quite a long time.

Later Matt sent the boy out and he called me. “What do you think?” he asked. “‘I think if we have enough, we should help,” I replied. Andrew’s was a special case that needed special consideration. Even though it was during the incorrect time and that we didn’t have any money, that was my answer. “Then let’s do it, we will find a way somehow,” Matt replied. It was clear that Matt was impressed Andrew’s with intelligence and grasp of English. The old man he had come with was jubilant! He said that he did not know how to thank God for the coming of Matt and Determined to Develop.

Andrew went back to school, the one he was chased away from because he could not pay, on the same day and with hope. He is now in class without worrying whether he will be there tomorrow as his tuition has been paid for. Instead of worrying whether he will have an education, or even a meal, he can concentrate on his studies.

I saw a smile on his face as he left Maji Zuwa that day. It was a smile that for the previous years had disappeared in pain of questions like, ‘Am I going to make it?’ and ‘Where is my future?’. I noted one special thing from this young boy. After receiving the news, he bowed his head in silence and said a little prayer. I nodded my head in a gesture to say “keep on praying Andrew; tomorrow may be brighter than today.” The hopeless was now hopeful. Life is a circumstance. A little sign of kindness can change the whole future of an individual.

The next day I had a phone call from the deputy head teacher thanking Matt and Determined to Develop for keeping Andrew in school. The teacher said that Andrew was one student whom he felt very sorry for – a great kid that was very intelligent, well behaved, respectful and thankful, who was just delt a bad hand. But now it seemed like things were going to work, that God does shine on those who work hard and have faith.

I meet many young people like Andrew and sometimes I feel sorry for Matt. Being the angel this area was looking for, they all come with hope that he will be the solution to the problems that are the result of Malawi’s abject poverty and often there just isn’t enough money to pay for their school fees.

By Christopher Chirambo, Administrative Coordinator for Determined to Develop

Tawonga chomene (We thank you)