Addressing hunger and poverty: VSLA Malawi

Monica lives in village overlooked by the majestic heights of Mount Mulanje in Southern Malawi and her life has been changed through a project run by Team Hope and its local partner.

“At first life was very tough”, says the young mother “caring for 4 children was very difficult because I separated from my husband some years ago”. But then she had the opportunity to take part in a village savings and loans scheme. This project is almost like a micro credit union where community members come together and contribute small amounts to a common fund from which they can take loans to invest in improving their lives. The groups are trained in basic business and other skills by Team Hope’s partner.

“VSL has helped me because at first I wasn’t able to find food to feed my family, but now I am able to find it, to take care of my family and to have two meals a day”. Monica with other members of her group invested their funds in some land near the river, this way they can use irrigation to grow crops year round instead of just during the rainy season. She keeps some of the crops to feed her family and is able to sell what is left for a profit.

This type of project empowers communities to find solutions to their problems and achieve their own goals. In an area where most buildings are made from clay, wood and straw, Monica says “it was my ambition to have a good house. With the profit I gain from my crops I managed to buy iron sheets for my roof”. She laughs and says proudly ‘I will be sleeping in an iron roofed house!’.

Together Team Hope and its partners are working with those like Monica to help them realise their hopes.