August 2010 Update



At the meeting of the Howe of Fife Rotary Club on 10th August 2010, Dr. Amanda Fleet of St. Andrews’ University gave fellow members a detailed update on Chimwemwe, the children’s project with which she is actively involved.  Established in January 2009, Chimwemwe (meaning ‘We are happy!’) aims to support vulnerable street children and their families in Blantyre, Malawi, and is a charity that Howe Rotary members have taken to their hearts, donating funds to help the cause.


Dr. Fleet reported that 15 new children had been welcomed into the project, taking the numbers to 30.  But while accommodation for them is available in the Samaritan  Orphanage, the project aims to help resolve disputes and trace lost relatives so children can return to their families. For example, Chimwemwe volunteers recently rescued 9 year old Esther from a life of begging, after the death of her parents, by tracing an aunt with whom she now lives.  Another project aim is to give teachings on health/social and moral issues.  In line with that, the youngsters and their communities are learning to cultivate a garden, the proceeds of which will not only help feed them, but also provide an income. 


Rotarians were especially interested to learn of the use to which their donations had been put.  Firstly, they were told that 30 sets of uniforms, shoes and books had been purchased so children in the project could attend school. Secondly, a sewing machine had been bought for Saidi Selemi, a widower, which will allow him to earn a living and, in turn, to send his two daughters, Betty, 9 years of age, and Flossy, 11 years of age, to school, instead of begging in the street. Thirdly, further Howe Rotary donations, had bought a bicycle as a recreational activity for the Chimwemwe children. Fourthly, sports’ uniforms and footballs for over 30 children had been purchased, so they could participate in football league competitions. 


Nor is the project relying on solely on foreign aid.  Social workers, Mac and Kevin, recently took part in a  sponsored cycle ride from Blantyre to Mangochi, raising over 200,000 Kwacha (about £900) to help purchase a piece of land that has already been identified.  Here, the intention is to build accommodation to house those street children orphaned by HIV/AIDs. Negotiations with local chiefs have so far been positive and project workers are optimist they will be able to find additional resources to meet the total price tag of 600,000 Kwacha.


Giving stability to vulnerable street children, both affected and infected by HIV/Aids, means Chimwemwe can then encourage the children to better their lives.  This, it is recognised, must be done through education.


Dr. Amanda Fleet says: ‘At Chimwemwe, we believe that education, like health, is a basic human right. Education is an essential ingredient in economic and community development, helping individuals understand the world around them, stay healthy, and change their lives.’

Thanking Dr. Fleet for her report, Howe Rotary President, Rod McCall, spoke for all the members present when he expressed his admiration at what had so far been achieved by the Chimwemwe Project.  The Rotary Club of the Howe of Fife, he added, would continue to give it support their throughout the following Rotary year.