This summer, Determined to Develop once again had the privilege of hosting a collaboration of human rights, engineering, education, and development students from the United States and Malawi. D2D’s institutional partner, The University of Dayton, competitively selects a group of five students to perform critical research connected to key programming areas of the organization through its Malawi Human Rights Practicum program. Together with development students from the University of Livingstonia in Malawi, the students spend two months working together to collect valuable data and research, ultimately working to enhance and improve the structure and delivery of D2D’s fundamental programs. Summaries of the students’ research projects are compiled below:
Developing Girls’ IGAs for Economic Empowerment by Morgan Langford
D2D has implemented comprehensive initiatives for girls’ empowerment in the Chilumba area, but they continue to expand their scope. Looking to their previous successes with women’s income generating activities, the organization has given me the privilege to conduct research on best practices for adolescent girls’ economic empowerment. During my stay in Malawi, I worked with my research partner, Chimango, to conduct interviews and focus groups to better understand the economic realities of young girls in Chilumba. D2D will be able to use data from these interviews to inform the development of a Girls Club income generating activity. By achieving economic independence, D2D hopes the girls will be able to learn valuable business and leadership skills while supporting themselves with basic needs.
Exploring Formal Technical Education in the Chilumba Area by Maggie Cadman
My name is Maggie Cadman and I am a University of Dayton student majoring in Human Rights Studies and Political Science. For the past 9 weeks I have been researching technical education in Malawi, with the help of my research partner, Foster. Through our research, we interviewed community members to explore how they perceive technical education and how they would perceive a technical school in being built in the area. Questions covered which programs they see as the most marketable, how much they could manage in fees, and how technical education can help develop the community, as well as the nation. We also conducted interviews with Ngara and Phwezi Technical Schools to learn how technical schools can benefit communities. D2D can use the information gathered to help shape a technical school proposal and structure the school to best help the needs of the surrounding community.
Exploring Social Media and Technology in Malawi by Hannah Donovan
Malawi, like many African countries, has leapfrogged the landline system of telecommunications in favor of mobile networks. As mobile phones become more popular, questions of phone use arises. What types of things are youths learning, reading, and viewing on their phones, and what is the impact? My research partners, Lughano and Thandie, and I interviewed youths ages 15-25 for a baseline survey on social media, specifically Facebook and WhatsApp, and technology. Through in-depth interviews and surveys taken in secondary schools, we measured the level of technology and social media use in the area. I also spoke with local organizations regarding their own social media and technology use to see how it has impacted their programming and outreach. With this information, D2D will be able to enhance its future programming and online presence.
Girls Club Curriculum Suggested Modifications by Lauren Breitenstein
As a participant in this year’s Malawi Practicum, I was tasked with evaluating the newly implemented D2D Girls Club curriculum. I began my research by interviewing D2D leadership regarding the curriculum and its implimentation. From there, I interviewed Girls Club participants to assess their attitudes about the club by asking questions concerning their favorite lessons, what their parents thought of their choice to attend, and what they would be interested in learning more about. The end result of my research will be a compilation of suggested curriculum modifications. In the process of conducting this research, I have had the incredible opportunity to learn more about the work that D2D does to help the surrounding communities. I have met so many intelligent and confident young women through D2D’s Girls Club. They are determined to obtain an education and I am grateful to have been given the chance to work for them.
Boys Contributing to Female Empowerment by Elizabeth Mazza
My name is Elizabeth Mazza and I am a student at the University of Dayton. Through the Malawi Practicum, I researched the role men and boys can play in the empowerment of women. While stationed in Malawi, I worked with my research partners Maureen, a University of Livingstonia student, and Frackson, a D2D staff member, to conduct interviews with community members. Interviews were held with both youth and adult aged males to gauge attitudes of the surrounding community. We also interviewed several female groups and organizations in Northern Malawi. Research from this project will help inform D2D’s projects and the creation of a curriculum to teach boys more about women’s empowerment, its benefits, and engage them in the process.
Nursery and Nonformal Education Curricula Development by Marykate Purcell and Ben Swick
The first several weeks of our stay in Malawi was spent developing a curriculum for 3-4 year olds to be implemented at D2D’s partnering nursey schools. We wanted to include culturally relevant and appropriate strategies, topics, and best learning practices. In order to do so, we referenced standards from the U.S. Department of Education, Ohio State, Malawi, and observed a session at a local nursey school. We took aspects from all of our research to develop a three-term curriculum that includes physical well-being as well as motor, cognitive, language, literacy, social, and emotional development. Upon completing the nursey school curriculum, we began writing a nonformal curriculum for Wasambo Boys High School. This curriculum is designed specifically for Form 2 students, to be implemented in the upcoming school year, and covers life skills and topics not otherwise covered in their formal education curriculum. The implementation of this nonformal curriculum brings awareness and helps students to better engage with issues such as mental health, women’s empowerment, and social and moral development.
Engineering Projects by David Fink
During my time in Malawi, I assisted the construction of a classroom at Wasambo Boys High School. This 25m x 13m building has been created without the aid of mechanical machines, which was a humbling and eye-opening experience for me to witness and participate in. Taking instruction from the foreman, in two months the team was able to construct the classroom up to the height of the door frames. As I return to the U.S., they will continue to work at the site and complete the structure in time for the upcoming September school term. While in Malawi, I also worked to construct a brick oven for the Maji Zuwa campus. The oven is meant to help accommodate the large-scale food output required each Saturday as the sponsored students attend weekly visits to the campus.
Whitney Strause, who has spent one year working as Determined to Develop’s Applied Program Officer, departed last month along with the Practicum students, to return to her home state of Ohio. As an Applied Program Officer, Whitney worked with community members and staff to maintain ongoing community projects, and managed the organization’s media presence. We are grateful to Whitney for all of her hard work, and the enthusiasm that she brought to the office.
In her year with D2D, Whitney worked closely with the Girls Empowerment Program Coordinator, Melness Kayuni, on efforts to empower both women and girls. This included working with women’s income-generating groups, women’s micro-credit livestock programs, creating a Girls Club curriculum, and helping to establish a girls mentorship program. Whitney says that her favorite memories from her time in Malawi were working with the primary and secondary school girls during weekly Girls Club meetings.
Whitney returns to the United States to pursue a graduate degree in Public Administration with a focus on Non-Profit Administration from the University of Dayton. While there, Whitney will be working as a graduate assistant at the Human Rights Center. After graduation, she plans to continue her work vying for global human equality. We at D2D will miss her greatly, but know that she will go on to do great things in the future!