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VFWI seeks to empower thousands of girls and women in Malawi, Africa by focusing on education, writing and other forms of creative expression. We will do this in collaboration with local women, partner organizations and government by offering secondary school scholarships and writing workshops that prepare women to use their creative capacity to solve everyday problems.
- Awarding secondary school scholarships to girls, in partnership with Girl Guides and other NGO’sin Malawi. The only way to make a difference in Malawi is through long-term systemic change. To contribute to this effort VFWI aims to award 40 scholarships in its first year growing to 350 by year 5. While we want to beat these modest goals we believe they are realistic. It is our aim to link donors and scholarship recipients via email and/or letters wherever possible. The cost of keeping a girl in secondary school in Malawi is extremely modest, currently estimated at $450/year.
Projected Number of Scholarships
Over a Five Year Period
(based on an increase of ten scholarships per year)
Cost of One Year of Secondary School
For One Girl in Malawi, Africa
Room and Board
Allowance for Personal Hygiene
- Facilitating writing workshop leadership training using the Amherst Writers and Artists (AWA) method, (an international organization with a 30 year history). The AWA leadership training classes will be limited to twelve participants at a time. As twelve new leaders begin to facilitate workshops in schools, villages, shelters, homes and other places they will affect the lives of hundreds and eventually thousands of other girls and women. By year 5 we aim to have cumulatively reached over 4,000 women. If each of them in turn influences 10 women we will have affected the lives of 40,000 women!
Training Local Facilitators Gives Voice to Thousands
After 1 year
After 2 years
After 3 years
After 4 years
After 5 years
# of Workshops
Cumulative Women Reached
- Offering VFWI writing workshops, led by North American and Malawian facilitators, will create a sustainable network of women writers discovering their unique voices. One facilitator has 8-15 women per workshop, which means that over time thousands of women annually have the potential of connecting through story. Theworkshops can be adapted to an intimate setting of 8-12, conducted school-wide or attended by thousands of women via a webinar.
- Leading cross-cultural learning journeys that link women from North America with women in Malawi. A yearly team of eight women accepts the opportunity to make a difference in the world. New people and experiences stimulate them, their assumptions and beliefs are challenged and they learn to turn towards each other in support. In other words, women from developed countries experience first hand the issues facing women who are living in abject poverty. Many are moved to action, either within their own communities or beyond.
Following are a few comments and developments from past participants:
- Cynthia Hsu, a 2009 team member was moved to dedicate her life’s work to supporting girls’ education in developing countries. In her words,"I felt a spark ignite... or perhaps it just added more fuel to a flame that had been simmering. In any case, it gave me more clarity about what it is I want to be doing."
- Robbyn Alexander, a 2011 participant, was inspired to start a women’s art cooperative that teaches sewing and entrepreneurial skills to village women and provides support to HIV/AIDS orphans in Malawi and beyond. Robbyn says, "The experience shifted me into a greater awareness of my power in the world and how I can make a difference."
- Sue Hickman has developed a top-notch presentation of her journey and is educating people, ages 13-90, about the issues facing the Malawian female.
- Susan Turk is inspired to work toward giving voice to the homeless population in Toronto, Canada. She says, "My experience in Malawi, seeing the effect of voice in those who are often unheard, truly inspired me. Because of this experience I am facilitating AWA writing workshops...encouraging people through expression to change their lives for the better.
- Building relationships through other forms of creative communication such as quilting, sewing and oral storytelling. These are collaborative projects that create opportunities to communicate across social, economic and political barriers. In 2011, village women in Malawi worked with glue, scissors, needle and thread, to decorate fabric squares for the first time in their lives. Ten thousand miles away, Coralee Johnson of Hazen, North Dakota, received those squares and stitched them into wall hangings. Although these women from different worlds have never met or spoken, Coralee knows their plight. Across an 8 x 8 inch square, their hands and hearts touched and stitch - by - stitch Coralee weaves their stories into hers. Creative projects like these build global awareness and link women across diverse cultures.
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