The goal of Villages in Partnership is to eradicate extreme poverty, beginning in the rural villages of Sakata in Malawi. Extreme poverty is poverty that leads to hopelessness. It is caused by a lack of resources in six critical needs of human development: food, water, education, medical care, infrastructure, and economic opportunity. Without adequate resources in each of these areas, extreme poverty traps its victims in a vicious cycle that they cannot break out of on their own.
Let’s see how this works in practice by taking education as an example. We know how crucial a good education is in allowing people to create a better life for themselves, so we build a brand new school in a rural village. But if we just focus on education, we won’t see the results we were hoping for. During the rainy season, dirt roads and paths turn into rivers and streams. Without bridges, many students won’t be able to get to school for 4 months of the year. Malawian girls have to help their mothers with many household chores, including fetching water for cooking and cleaning. But without easy access to clean water, many girls have to walk over a half hour to reach the nearest water source. By the time the girls fetch the water and come back to do their other chores, they may not have time to go to school. There are over 6 million cases of Malaria in Malawi every year. Without access to bed nets, or properly equipped medical clinics hundreds of thousands of children will miss weeks of school, falling behind on their work and increasing their risk of failing. Finally, although primary schools in Malawi are free, all students must pay for their own uniforms and supplies. Without spare income from jobs or a surplus harvest, families will not have money to buy uniforms or supplies and their children will not be able to attend school.
Extreme poverty is caused by an interrelated web of traps and only by addressing all of the traps simultaneously can people break finally free from poverty’s grasp. It is not enough to address only one or two of the critical needs; all six must be attacked at the same time in order to lift entire villages and areas out of this condition.
The people of Malawi have the capacity, determination and desire to change. What they lack are necessary critical resources, training and capital. They need outside partners to come alongside them, to provide them with the resources and training necessary to lift themselves out of extreme poverty.
Over the past nine years spent working in the villages of Malawi, VIP has developed a powerful system to address these 6 critical needs. And we have seen a great deal of progress. Hundreds more children are now attending school, areas that have experienced perpetual hunger now have enough food, women and young girls are no longer walking hours each day to access clean water, and people are starting small businesses and taking advantage of previously unattainable economic opportunities. But we have a lot more work left to do! Help us to continue to bring more of these critical resources to the people of Malawi!