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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:

Malawian Businessman Donates to Determined to Develop

Malawian businessman donates to Determined to Develop

Determined to Develop focuses the largest portion of its resources on providing a chance for young people to go to school. This access to education is something taken for granted in developed countries, but something out of reach for many youth in Malawi. Although school fees are the greatest hurdle to education, once a child is in school he or she still needs a school uniform, mandatory for entering the class, and materials, such as notebooks and pens. Even the cost of a pen can be out of reach.

One of our suppliers for our school materials is a good friend named Mswarz Mlenga. Mswarz started from humble beginnings as a young entrepreneur in Karonga town and gradually worked his way up to a thriving businessman supplying most stationary items in Karonga.

Mswarz is also very active in supporting his church and activities that benefit the most disadvantaged. In a recent visit to his shop, our Executive Director Matt was buying some supplies for the children. Mswarz asked him to the back room and said to Matt, “You know, I see what you and Determined to Develop are doing to help our young people. I also need to appreciate how you have come from USA but you and the people who help you have thought about the children here. There are even some Malawians who don’t think about their neighbors. But you continue helping people. May God Bless you.”

With those words, Mswarz handed Matt a complete box of college ruled notebooks. With a couple hundred notebooks, and a value well over $100, it was a very, very generous gift by Malawi standards. Mzwarz is an example of a Malawian who wants to push his country forward and help the youth citizens access education. D2D continually interacts with both private and government sector professionals who want the same for their country without anything in return. Matt and the D2D staff are continually thankful for the partners in development who are Malawians yearning to raise their beautiful country out of poverty and into prosperity. And sometimes that happens one school notebook at a time…

Tawonga chomene (We thank you) Mr. Mswarz Mbenga!