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Updated: Mar 19

Village Head Ntcholoma happy with SASA faith

Village Head Ntcholoma, a respected community leader under Traditional Authority Mbawera in Thyolo district, shares a compelling story of transformation in Ntcholowa village. Formerly plagued by numerous cases of gender-based violence against women, the community underwent a positive shift after participating in the SASA Faith for Community Activists training facilitated by CRECCOM under the COVID-19 Response Mechanism project, financially supported by the Global Fund through the Malawi Government and ActionAid International Malawi.

In the past, Ntcholoma reflects, "Most women used to face gender-based violence, restricted from engaging in income-generating activities by their husbands. Men believed they were the sole providers, perpetuating harmful cultural beliefs that women should only stay at home." This mindset fuelled a cycle of violence and inequality.

Following the SASA Faith for Community Activists training, Ntcholoma initiated discussions with community members, including church leaders and local chiefs, to address and eradicate the root causes of gender-based violence. Through collaborative efforts, four Village Savings and Loans (VSLs) were established to empower women economically, enabling them to start small-scale businesses.

Before the economic empowerment initiatives, sensitization meetings were held to educate the community on the negative impacts of gender-based violence, emphasizing its infringement on human rights.

 "We sensitized that family disputes should be resolved through dialogue, not violence," Ntcholoma added.

As a result, women in Ntcholowa village now engage in various small-scale businesses, such as selling produce like Irish potatoes, bananas, and doughnuts. The income generated is utilized to support their families, contributing to expenses like school fees and daily meals.

The project effectively curtailed the alarming cases of gender-based violence. Previously, the chief's court handled 3 to 5 cases related to family disputes, but now, such incidents are virtually non-existent.

Ntcholoma proudly asserts, "Families now engage in discussions to resolve issues instead of resorting to violence."

To reinforce this positive change, bylaws were implemented against men displaying gender-based violence.

Ntcholoma emphasizes, "A man found guilty of beating his wife for family conflict is now penalized with two chickens presented to the chief."

Thomas Andrea Thangata, a church representative who attended the SASA Faith Community Activists training, notes the positive impact within religious settings. "We advised church members on the dangers of gender-based violence, encouraging women to report incidents to their respective authorities."

Edson Nambiri adds that the training extended beyond reporting; it fostered a supportive community where individuals assist each other in addressing and reporting cases of abuse. He highlights the danger of men hiding their struggles and resorting to self-harm.

Through SASA Faith Community Activists training, Ntcholowa village has not only broken the chains of gender-based violence but has also empowered its residents to build a more harmonious and equitable community


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