You might have heard us mention the Majete community in Malawi before; it’s a cluster of eight communities surrounding Majete Wildlife Reserve.
Less than 20 years ago, the Reserve was an empty forest with almost all of its animals – including elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards, and buffalos – hunted out. Local communities had traditionally relied on the reserve’s animals and natural resources for food and income. In 2003, African Parks was brought in to rehabilitate the reserve. Despite the return of animals, tourists, and jobs just a decade later, the communities surrounding Majete had yet to benefit. Without access to the reserve’s resources, communities were still experiencing poverty, underserved by government services, and critically in need of support to develop alternative livelihoods.
So far, The Hunger Project globally has supported six of the eight Majete communities. On a recent trip to Malawi, I – along with a group of committed Investors, including Bared Footwear and the WA consortium – visited Majete 7, a community that has been waiting patiently for us for years. This was one of my first real experiences of life before the Hunger Project in Africa. It certainly gave me serious motivation to work harder for our mission.
We spent time with the women of the community and heard their stories. Some were hard to listen to – such as women giving birth on the roadside before they could reach the far-away health centre – and some were uplifting. We spent time with the young people of the community, and again, the stories are very dire with little to no employment or education opportunities.
The water situation is also shocking. The stories from the water well – a hand-dug hole that is disease-ridden, with cholera taking numerous lives in the community already – were heartbreaking.
It was an emotional visit. With the support of our incredible Investors, we were able to share the news that a locally-led THP-Malawi team will be on the ground in the coming months.
This is the reality for many people in Africa. Visits like these fuel my determination to keep trying harder, to be faster in funding, to share these stories and to encourage generosity so that no person, no matter where they were born or their gender, must live under the heavy burden of hunger and poverty.
CEO, The Hunger Project Australia