Pathways for Successful Transition (PAST) is a project whose goal is to reduce poverty, improve livelihoods and enhance the resilience of rural households on a sustainable basis. The project is targeting beneficiaries who are already on the government of Malawi’s social safety net program of Social Cash Transfer (SCT). PAST project is being implemented in all ten traditional authorities in Mzimba district.  The area of Traditional Authority Khosolo in Mzimba South has eighty-one-year-old Keleness Mithi who has benefited from this project. Keleness comes from Gideon Sindani village in Kachima cluster.

Considering her old age, Keleness is looked after by her first-born son, Joseph Saka who is 55 years old. Although Keleness stays with her son, she was struggling to have three meals in a day and poor housing as she stayed in a round mud and grass thatched house.

“Life was miserable as I did not have proper housing. I was lacking beddings and could suffer from pneumonia during cold seasons. Somedays I was going to bed without eating anything because we had no food. It was difficult as we had no livestock such as chickens. This affected me greatly as I am supposed to eat regularly considering my old age,” Keleness said.

Despite Keleness Mithi being eighty-one years old, she was selected to benefit from the PAST project after her son, Joseph qualified in the category of fit-to-work member of the household. Joseph has been receiving financial literacy and social behavior change core messages from Community Agent (CA), Francis Kamanga, and members of Hanock Community Theatre Group (CTG) who were trained by Save the Children and Creative Centre for Community Mobilization (CRECCOM) respectively.

“We have been mentoring and coaching Joseph on savings, credit management, investing money, and mindset change through homes visits and plays that have been conducted by the CA and CTG members,” Francis Kamanga said.

Baking of bricks to construct a decent house for Keleness currently underway

As an alternative receiver, after receiving 110000 Kwacha in December 2020 Joseph followed a business plan he developed together with his mother. 19000 Kwacha from the seed capital was used to purchase two bags of fertilizer and maize seeds. They also purchased 4 goats and 4 chickens at a total sum of 45000 Kwacha.

“I make local mats; 20000 Kwacha was invested in buying materials for this purpose. Profits from this business have enabled us to purchase 11 iron sheets and bake 10000 bricks as we want to construct a good house for our mother. The remaining 25000 Kwacha was invested at Kaviwale Village Loan and Savings (VSL) group,” he said.

This year in a series of years Keleness has managed to harvest more than 30 bags of maize in a growing season for the first time. Her home is now free from hunger as she has goats and chickens as well as a mat-selling business where the money to buy basic needs such as soap and beddings are emanating from. This ultra-poor graduation program is financially and technically coordinated by Financial Access for Rural Markets Smallholders and Enterprises (FARMSE).

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