a short history
HOPE-malawi was founded by a local artist and activist, Zion Kennedy Phillips Chirwa. Raised in a respected Nkhata Bay family who ran the “Heart Motel and Vacation Village” (the first tourist accommodation Malawi), his ideas developed through contact with the travelling and local communities and keen observation of how the international development program was operating in Malawi. Much of the good work was ultimately unsustainable due to misplaced priorities and lack of engagement from the local people.
Zion saw that one of the keys to a sustainable community is empowering those who are forgotten, marginalised or dispossessed by engaging them in developing their ideas and extracting a commitment from them to work towards a sustainable goal.
He decided to do something about it.
In 2004, Zion partnered with a group of women who were single parents. Meeting twice a week the group began making paper goods by recycling waste products (including elephant dung!) to make cards, small diaries, notebooks, photo-albums and gift wrapping. The goods were sold at craft markets, the beach and local tourist lodges.
A social enterprise was born and by the end of the year, the group expanded to include other women in the area who were not single parents but encountered the many hardships that most Malawian women face.
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In 2005, the list of goods was extended to fabric products including bags, pillow cases, cushion covers, African shirts, dresses, door mats and wall decorations. All goods were made from recycled materials ensuring a positive environmental impact.
In 2007 the group started processing and packaging Malambe juice. Malambe is the fruit of the Baobab Tree. It is high in calcium and iron, with eight times the Vitamin C of oranges.
Available as a juice for a refreshing drink or in powder form to use as a nutritional supplement. It is sold at the roadside, to local businesses and at local markets. It can also be used as an ingredient for catering including milkshakes, other drinks and cakes.
Zion’s ideas for community led sustainable development struck a chord with other leaders in the community and HOPEmalawi was underway.