Monday, 1 October 2012

The Mayamiko Project: Bricks of Hope

50p buys a brick. And every single brick counts. That’s all you need to know.

Well, ok, there is a bit more of a story to tell...

So Mayamiko (the Chichewa word for praise) is a Trust created by a bunch of like-minded creative spirits who decided to use their skills to benefit people in the world who are less fortunate than themselves; and you and me. It’s their special way of giving back and spreading the goodness around in a truly unique way. The main objects of the Trust are to promote sustainable development by the relief of poverty through training and employment opportunities (particularly in Africa), as well as promoting and preserving good health through the provision of funds and a variety of services. 

The Mayamikans (as they like to be known!) are planning to build a new sustainable skills and production centre in Lilongwe, Malawi, as part of The Mayamiko Cotton Project. At present, the disadvantaged women – affected by the HIV pandemic or are carers of HIV orphans - who are trainees and tailors, learn their crafts and work outdoors. The aim of the production centre is to provide a sheltered environment and improved working conditions for these women while they’re hard at work trying to build a future for themselves and their families. The project has already trained groups of women in many different textile processes including weaving, knitting, cutting, sewing, and tailoring, all the way through to finished garments, some of which have been featured in Vogue, Grazia, Cosmopolitan and The Guardian! So it’s clear that this is a life changing opportunity for these women to create a sustainable and flourishing living.

Along with a necessary skills centre, the Mayamikans are hoping to build a nursery where the ladies’ babies and children will be looked after holistically, fed nutritious food and taken care of lovingly; and in the future they hope to build a fashion school where technical and creative talents can be nurtured and developed for sustainability and growth.

Malawi is actually one of the poorest countries in the world, with a life expectancy at birth of just 41 years, and over half of the population live in extreme poverty. However, studies indicate that lifting women out of poverty has amazing effects on reducing the under-5 mortality rate, and that it increases the chances of offspring being healthier and being sent to school and receiving a vital education. Evidence shows that when women have a steady and reliable income, which is what this project aims to achieve, that money mostly goes to the benefit of their children, the family, and the community- and that my friends, is how a ‘virtuous circle’ begins.

Malawi grows cotton that is exported raw for very low prices. Cotton is the fourth biggest export commodity but accounts for next to nothing of the total export value of the country. So the project aims to source some of the precious cotton grown in Malawi, and use it locally to manufacture products with added value for the internal market and for export. 

And guess what? YOU can play a part in realising the Mayamikans dream by buying bricks for the new production centre. Mayamiko have set a target of 200,000 bricks, each brick representing 50p; and don’t underestimate how much every single brick donated helps.

And there’s an added bonus on offer too! There are a number of different gifts that will be sent to you with compliments depending on how generous your donation to the project is. Donating 100 bricks (£50) will get you a Mayamiko cotton drawstring bag and oyster card made by trainees in Malawi; all the way up to if you donate 20,000 bricks (£10,000) a room will be named after you in the Skills and Production Centre, and you’ll become a lifetime patron of Mayamiko, listed on the website. £10,000 is a LOT of dough, so don’t worry, there’s plenty of other unique gifts on offer for smaller and more affordable contributions! Click here to visit the Bricks of Hope project, and make a life changing donation today.

There is a Chichewa saying that goes:

“Phukusi la moyo sasungilana”

I have no idea how to attempt saying it, but this translates literally as “Do not let another keep the valuables of your life” – but what it is really saying is that you need to look after your own destiny. And this is exactly what the Mayamikans are trying to offer to the women of Malawi – the education, skills, and fair wage to be in control of their own destiny in this world. Everyone should have the right to pursue something that they want, and create a life for themselves and their families; a life which they are proud of; a life that is full of meaning and purpose. 

That’s not asking too much, is it?

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