Last month, I had the opportunity to visit some of our partners and staff in Malawi and Zambia, and what I saw there was inspiring. I met Madalo Samati, the Executive Director of the Creative Center for Community Mobilization, who has worked with community groups across Malawi for more than three decades, helping women and girls build stronger, brighter futures. I spoke with John Kapiwga, the headmaster at Nakatete Primary School outside Lusaka, Zambia, who told me about the program he established with Counterpart to help subsidize school fees for the children in his community, where over 90% of parents are unemployed following the collapse of the local textile industry. I visited the home of Mr. and Mrs. Chithima Gosi, who worked with Counterpart’s local partner, the Village Hygiene Project, to build a latrine and handwashing station at their house to help keep their four children and two grandchildren from getting cholera and keep them in school. And finally, I built a lasting friendship with Jessy Mazala, who told me about how the women in her community used to have to make the choice between walking over 25 kilometers to the nearest health clinic or risking a home birth, where transmitting HIV/AIDS to your newborn is all too common. With Counterpart’s help, Jessy helped establish a health center in her village where midwives provide high-quality care and ensure that women and children have access to doctors when they need it.
In Malawi, our Supporting the Efforts of Partners (STEPS) program launched in 2014. STEPS works with more than 30 partners throughout the country in various sectors, including health, education, and women’s rights. These partners work with our team to amplify their impact, build stronger relationships with government and local leaders, and improve service delivery in the communities where access to clean water, education, or HIV/AIDS services can literally be the difference between life and death.
In Zambia, our Fostering Accountability and Transparency (FACT) program works with government and civil society organizations to strengthen, monitor, and improve public services. We work with local leaders to give them the resources they need to improve access to public services, especially related to education, health and HIV, sustainable livelihoods, extractive industries, and climate resiliency.
Over the next few months, we’ll be sharing more about these partners and telling the stories of impact that they are achieving in communities throughout Malawi and Zambia. The Counterpart Network has over 50 years of experience in building the capacity of governments, organizations, and networks around the world, but at the end of the day, we are only as strong as the partners and leaders we are privileged to work with. I’m thrilled to tell their stories as they support Malawi and Zambia’s journey to self-reliance.