In April 2013, Jo Hobbett and her daughter Eilidh visited KODO, ahead of the launch of our new three year project funded by the Scottish Government.
Jo shares her impressions of KODO’s work in rural Malawi.
On a recent visit to Malawi, my daughter Eilidh and I were privileged to meet with George Chimpiko of KODO. George explained how important the Scottish Government funding – recently secured by the Global Concerns Trust in partnership with Tools for Self Reliance – will be in providing a lifeline for disabled people in the Salima area.
George told me that nine out of ten disabled women are unmarried, carrying the stigma of their disability as they are “kept out of sight”. Women are particularly vulnerable to all issues affecting people living in poverty: food security, single parenthood, low standard housing, poor health, HIV infection, and barriers to accessing education and healthcare. When a significant disability and limited mobility have also to be overcome, the choices for women (and their children) are seriously limited.
KODO has adopted a holistic approach. Trainees will not only develop technical skills, but will also gain business and finance skills, HIV / AIDS awareness, and agricultural skills.
They will also be given the tools they require to allow them to generate their own income in the long term.
George showing Eilidh where the crops will be grown
KODO will provide training in basket-making, woodcarving and tailoring for 90 disabled people, of whom 60% will be women, over the next three years. The new training centre is well placed beside the main road between capital city Lilongwe and tourist lodges around Lake Malawi. The Centre is however, several kilometres outside Salima and transport is the first hurdle many new trainees will have to overcome. George told me about the mobility chairs that have been brought in from Zambia.
A firm believer in developing livelihood skills rather than relying on aid, George left for Zambia just after we met to learn for himself how to make and maintain mobility scooters and wheelchairs. The fifty units earmarked for KODO are crucial to enable trainees to travel to the training centre. A last minute withdrawal of the offer of a lorry and driver from the local government threatened the whole training programme but the Zambian wheelchair project have kindly agreed to transport the units from Lusaka to Salima using their own lorry while supporters in Scotland have offered to cover fuel costs. The drive and enthusiasm of George, with the support of international partners, means that the new KODO trainee artisans will be ready to start their training next month after all. I wish them all the very best in this.