Chikangawa MamaYe Super Activists’ Persistence Pays Off

By John Kawale 

In March 2017, community members led by Chikangawa MamaYe Super Activists embarked on a fundraising exercise to purchase an ambulance for Chikangawa Health Center. What triggered this was the death of a woman who had waited for over 5 hours for an ambulance to come from Mzimba District Hospital which is over 50 Km away. Fortunately the baby survived.

Following this unfortunate incident the activists, who were empowered through Evidence For Action-MamaYe Malawi (E4A-MamaYe) program to use a combination of evidence and advocacy to drive accountability for maternal and newborn outcomes, approached community leaders to hold a number of activities to raise funds to purchase an ambulance for the facility.

The first activity the community around Chikangawa Health Center held was a 16 Km big walk starting from the health center to Raiply. During this event they were able to raise close to K250,000 with donations coming from motorists and other well-wishers from the trading center. It was exciting that Member of Parliament of the area, pregnant women and traditional leaders were in attendance as they saw this will also benefit them too.
Big walk in March 2017

After MamaYe had phased out in March 2017, the community did not relent but continued in the pursuit for an ambulance and approached a number of individuals and companies for assistance. Then in July they got a donation of K1 million from Mr. Nebson Chilooko, Managing Director for Kawandama Hills Company. The Super Activists continued to knock on various doors and did other ventures to raise the much needed money.
Mzimba DHO, Dr Munthali (middle) receiving the cheque

One such venture was selling of firewood which was sold to Mr. Kanjira from Kasungu. When they went to follow up on the money, he enquired further to the group’s main mission. He was touched with their story donated one of his minibuses to the community.

The ambulance you see in the picture below is the fruits of Chikangawa MamaYe Super Activists determination to solve one of the challenges that was rocking pregnant mothers around Chikangawa Health Center. With no funding from E4A-MamaYe Malawi after the program had shutdown in the country, the Super Activists have continued to use the skills and knowledge they gained in identifying gaps in maternal health to mobilize resources through various activities.

This is a story of determination and resilience from the community. This is enough evidence that a community empowered with knowledge and evidence is able to drive change and transform a community without necessarily waiting for the government to come in. This is a story that indeed No Woman Should Die While Giving Birth.