Women of Grace In Action
We will continue to upgrade grass roofs to iron sheet roofs as funding allows. A new iron sheet roof costs $1,200 including iron sheets, nails, lumber for rafters, wire, cement, and labor.
We will continue the PantiPlus sewing project to ensure a reliable income for our widows and to help local girls to stay in school.
Several widows at Mbowe received pig husbandry training and now keep pigs behind their homes. The training pen at Mbowe continues to operate with a locally hired swineherd. Over the coming year, we will determine if the sale of pigs at market is a viable way to meet part of our critical needs budget.
Our Programs & Field Director
Iron Sheet Roofs The WOGWF continues to upgrade widows’ roofs one by one. Twenty-eight of 45 widows now have iron sheet roofs, which are a godsend during the rainy season. The cost of each roof is about $1200 ($900 for iron sheets and $300 for the builder, cement, wood, and nails). The widows decide among themselves who will be next in line to have a grass roof replaced. The current budget allows for 2 new roofs each year.
Changu Changu Moto Stoves Means “fast, fast fire” in Chitumbuka, the local dialect.Advantages:
- • Uses less firewood
- • Has 2 burners
- • Compact design reduces likelihood of burns and scalds
- • Reduces smoke inhalation
- • Easy to construct and repair using local bricks and
mud mortar mix
WOGWF provided each widow with a Changu Changu Moto stove through a partnership with Ripple Africa. The widows learned how to construct the stove in their outdoor kitchens to replace the traditional 3 stone fire. The outdoor kitchen is a family gathering space, much like a family room would be for us at home.
Coliness, an Mbowe widow, reported that she is very happy to have a stove with an extra burner that uses less firewood. In addition, she and her family enjoy extra warmth in the kitchen area because, unlike the traditional 3 stone fire, the bricks of the stove continue to radiate heat for some time after the fire has died. Coliness’ young grandchildren can now move more freely around the kitchen without the danger of tripping and falling into an open fire.
Sam Chirwa has been the field manager of the WOGWF since its inception in 2008. He directs our programs in Malawi (critical needs, medical transportation, sewing project, housing improvements, etc) and makes all in-country arrangements for our annual mission trip.
Sam is our constant companion during mission trips, explaining Malawian culture, and smoothing our path in every way. Many thanks to Sam for his outstanding dedication to WOG!
The PantiPlus Project In July 2017, 21 widows learned how to work as a team to produce PantiPlus, a washable menstrual hygiene kit that is badly needed in rural Malawi. Over the past 12 months, the widows have been producing purses, panties, and pads for the PantiPacks. The widows are paid for each item they make, and the kits are donated to rural village school girls to reduce this hidden barrier to high school attendance.
In July 2018 Margot McGorman and Karen Ivings provided an additional 8 days of sewing training in Malawi. Five more women learned how to sew pads and panties. The workshop was reorganized for better flow of sewing-in-progress items and easier quality control.
The solar batteries were upgraded so that sewing on electric machines can continue uninterrupted during the rainy season.
Over the past year, the 21 widows, who had no income prior, have earned an average of $37 USD each, in a country with a GDP of $301. For a poor widow, this is an amazing income, allowing them to buy food, medicine when needed, and pay school fees for their children.
There were enough completed PantiPacks for all the girls in 5th, 6th and 7th grades at 3 local village schools. Several widows volunteered to provide training to the school girls at the PantiPack distribution. They spoke in the local language of Chitumbuka, ensuring that the girls fully understood how to use and care for the kits they received. The widows were truly inspired to see the end result of their hard work!
The “Pioneers”, a group of Mbowe school girls who received PantiPacks last year, provided feedback about how the year had gone. They were all very satisfied with the kits and delighted to own them. The Pioneers toured the sewing workshop, and the widows at each stage, (tracing, cutting, ironing, and sewing) explained the process to them. So empowering for the widows, and inspiring for the girls!!