Malawi is a country roughly the size of the state of Pennsylvania. 74% of the approximate 16 million people who live there earn less than $1.25 a day. HIV/Aids has infected 12% of the adult population and this has resulted in over one million orphans on the street. 50% of all women are illiterate.
When a woman in Malawi loses her husband to death, typically the family of the deceased man will go to the widow and confiscate all of the family’s possessions including cooking utensils and other items necessary to exist. The new widow and her children are put out on the street to survive. Unfortunately, most of these widows are illiterate and lack any job skills to provide for their family.
In October 2009, Joseph Hara started a program to teach widows skills that generate an income and how to read and write. Today, there are 40 women from many villages outside of Lilongwe who take classes in baking, sewing and gardening as well as literacy classes. Upon completion of the course, assistance is provided to help the women establish their own business.
Women are taught skills that generate an income immediately, like baking scones, sewing dresses or growing vegetables that can be sold in the local market. Every skill is one that provides results quickly and keep the family functional. Literacy will provide a future and an opportunity to continue learning and growing.