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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 Stealer of my heart

Stealer of my heart

There is one of my learners who has changed my world forever, in an everlasting permanent way: Lowani. This brilliant boy who is the top of my class, stealer of my heart, is also an orphan. I’ve learned a lot about Malawi and it’s not hard to see that education is everything. Education is something that can take you from a mud hut to the Hilton. It’s priceless.

Meeting Lowani’s family was very emotional for me, because I was finally able to see what I’d been told. That he is poorer than poor. Their meager little hut houses five of them, and although they are happy, I’m able to see how much he will miss out on, all because he doesn’t have the money.

I hate that the world is so dependent on little green pieces of paper. That how many you hold some how determines your rank above society, and as with many things, the more the better. It’s disgusting that some people are able to throw it around without a care in the world, while others are scrounging through dumpsters looking for things the world refuses them time and time again.

There are never any easy answers to problems. Especially not something like poverty. I’d spent days dreaming that I could change Lowani’s circumstances, that he could become what he dreams to be: a doctor. But no matter how I flipped it around, I knew that whatever I was able to do, would never be enough. And my limitations crippled my heart, but not my spirit. I did promise his sister, the remarkable Roda, that I would pay to put him through secondary school. Even I knew that that promise would be difficult to keep, but I was determined.

I’m someone who believes that everything happens for a reason. And not too long ago I was having a casual conversation with my country coordinator, Matt Maroon. Matt is an angel. He runs the non-profit Determined to Develop in Sangilo, Malawi. Through it he supports over 70 orphaned boys & girls by housing some of them, paying for their school fees, and giving them a family to belong to. Talking to Matt’s kids is so inspiring. You can directly see the effect that he’s had on them. You can ask them what they want to be and they will come up with a teacher, a doctor, a politician, no matter the answer, it is always backed by the reason that they believe they will have the biggest impact on their country by helping it become more developed. It astounds me, the mere admiration they have for him. If ever you’d like to reach out and help, donating to Matt’s non-profit, Determined to Develop, would be the best answer. I cannot praise Matt enough, he’s simply amazing.

I told him all about Lowani, how he’s an orphan, a brilliant boy that I really do believe could become something if only he had the opportunity. That’s when Matt turned to me and said that he’d take him under his roof. In telling him about Lowani I wasn’t fishing for help, I tell everyone about Lowani, and what he said honestly surprised me so much. Too many emotions over took me and before I knew it I was crying.

I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced something like having your prayers answered, but that’s exactly what Matt did for me that night. A weight was lifted from my shoulders and I literally felt like I could fly. I don’t know how many times I will say thank-you to Matt, but no matter the number, it will never be enough. He’s given me the best gift I’ve ever received. And although I don’t entirely believe that I deserve it, I know that Lowani does.

Now he will finish primary school, secondary school, and even go to university! His life will take a complete 180. And it’s really amazing that Matt decided he would do this because he usually only takes in secondary school and university students. What’s happening for Lowani is really special, and I’m so thankful that I could be a part of it.

Now when I return to Canada I know I won’t fully lose him. I will be able to write him letters, send him pictures, and he might actually reply. Lowani is one learner that I don’t have to lose completely. How beautiful is all of this?

I feel truly blessed that I was able to come to Malawi and change someone’s life this much. But really it’s not me, it’s Matt. He’s the true hero. Not only can I not fully express my gratitude, but also my happiness. I’ve never been so elated! Everyone keeps telling me that Lowani will now definitely not forget me, because of all I have done, and that’s a nice thought. But even if he does, I know that I will never forget him, that he has changed my life forever, and I can’t wait for him to grow up and really be somebody.

Life has a funny way of surprising us, especially when you least expect it. I would have never dreamed that this experience in Malawi would leave me so thankful and grateful to so many beautiful people. Matt has given Lowani a future in which he can really be successful and go far, and really what more could I have asked for?

Here’s to the angels that walk the earth.

Sadye – a volunteer teacher in Malawi for 7 months