Malawi has not escaped the worldwide crisis created by the spread of the coronavirus. There are few cases at present, but the government has nevertheless decided on many of the same lock down measures that have been adopted in other countries. In a poor, mostly cash economy, that is still experiencing the long term effects of an AIDS epidemic, this is making ordinary lives yet more difficult. Few people have resources to sustain them for any length of time.
For over 15 years, the Soko Fund has been awarding scholarships to women at university in Malawi, always with the aim of assisting the development of the country. Now, through the agency of the Soko Fund Graduate Association (SGA), many of those women graduates have stepped forward to apply their education and training in four special initiatives launched by the SGA to help Malawi in the present crisis:
Supporting Medical Infrastructure Through Medic-to-Medic the SGA is supporting efforts to give Personnel Protective Equipment (PPE) to graduates in frontline healthcare.
Food Production This initiative in cash crop potato production will support local communities in food production and income generation.
Information Media Radio and press reporting will create communication networks offering reliable information on health initiatives.
Training and Employment New online sewing skills workshops will encourage the development of income generating skills
The Soko Fund is providing start-up funds for all these initiatives, which are designed to secure their own long term sustainability. We invite you to join us in supporting these women graduates as they lay the foundations for a better post-crisis future. The Soko Fund has the experience and infrastructure to ensure that every penny is well spent, and in Malawi, even small sums of money go a very long way.
Please consider making a donation.
SGA Communications Network The Soko Fund is delighted to announce the formation of a new “SGA Communications Network”. This highly significant step forward for the Soko Fund within Malawi builds on the success of the Soko Fund Graduate Association (SGA) established in 2017. Five women, all former Soko Fund Scholarship holders, have been appointed as ‘links’ in a country wide network that will strengthen communication with universities and scholarship holders, and provide encouragement and advice to potential applicants. In their applications, these talented graduates expressed a passion for the goals of the Soko Fund -- helping and guiding fellow women in their careers, giving back to the community, and developing new skills.
The new Communications Network will be managed by Nancy Chimalizeni Dent BSc, the Soko Fund Graduate Association Coordinator.
Winnie Chimwala comes from Mwamadi Village in southern Malawi. She held a Soko Fund Scholarship from 2016 to 2019, and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Horticulture at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR). Since graduation, Winnie has been working as an intern at Bvumbwe Research Station. Winnie will be the link person for KCN Lilongwe, and LUANAR.
Mariana Chirwa comes from Tambala village in Nkhotakota District in the lake shore area. She held a Soko Fund Scholarship from 2013 to 2017, and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Forestry at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR). Since graduation, Mariana has been working as an intern at Forest Research Institute of Malawi (FRIM) in Zomba. Mariana will be the link person for Chancellor College, University of Malawi.
Veronica Eve Domingo comes from Suya Village near Blantyre in southern Malawi. She held a Soko Fund Scholarship from 2012 to 2016, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts Humanities Degree (English major) from University of Malawi, Chancellor College. During her studies, she qualified to work as an intern at Chanco Community Radio. She was a volunteer TV presenter for a youth programme at Mibawa Television, and now works part time as TV presenter. Veronica will be the link person for KCN Blantyre, and Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST).
Agness Lakudzala comes from Lilongwe in central Malawi. She held a Soko Fund Scholarship from 2008 to 2011 and graduated with BSc in Medical Laboratory Sciences at Malawi College of Medicine. After graduation, she worked as a laboratory scientist at Zomba Central Hospital before attending Tohoku University in Japan for her Masters. Currently a pre-PhD Intern at the Malawi Liverpool Welcome Trust in Blantyre, once Agness enrolls in a PhD program, she will focus on the synergistic relationship between TB and HIV. Her long term goal is to be an independent researcher in Africa, and contribute to the control of HIV and TB pandemics. Agness will be the link person for the College of Medicine, and Malawi Polytechnic.
Karen Mhango comes from Mzuzu in northern Malawi. She held a Soko Fund Scholarship from 2014 to 2018, and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts (Education) from Mzuzu University. While a student she worked as an analyst and translator for the Centre for Youth and Development, and since graduation has been teaching at Masambiro Secondary School. She is currently the Soko Fund Graduate Association Intern. Karen will be the link person for Mzuzu University (MZUNI).
Introducing our new Soko Fund Graduate Association Coordinator NANCY CHIMALIZENI DENT, BSc. Despite a very poor family background, and thanks to a government bursary, Nancy Chimalizeni Dent managed to complete her secondary school education. Then, with the help of a Soko Fund Scholarship, she gained a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Malawi, Polytechnic. Before joining the Soko Fund as the Coordinator for the Soko Fund Graduate Association (SGA), Nancy Chimalizeni worked as a Finance and Administrative Assistant, and later Graduate Development Trainee, with AKA Group of Companies and JTI Leaf Malawi Limited. Nancy’s desire to work for the SGA springs from her commitment to the SGA's mission and objectives. Allowing for the fact that most SGA members are still in the process of securing financial stability, she wants the SGA to create opportunities for promoting sustainable economic growth and development. This will enable SGA members to fulfill the SGA’s aim of giving back to the community. Nancy’s main role in her new job will to coordinate SGA activities and programs in liaison with the Soko Fund Director and the SGA Committee, finding and implementing viable ways to develop the Association.
News from the Soko Scholars… Memory Mwosoya, a Soko Scholar also supported by our partner Mamie Martin Fund, was selected as one of two midwifery nurses for a placement 6 week placement in a Canadian hospital. This valuable enhancement to Memory’s nursing experience will help greatly as she completes the final year of her degree in June 2020.
Tenly Chimalenzi Jambo, current President of the Soko Graduate Association, has recently gained a place on the graduate Internship programme for Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA). This paid, full time, 2 year internship will enable Tenly to apply for other local authority positions once she has completed her time with MERA.
Increased grant from the Hope Trust The Hope Trust has supported the Soko Fund generously over many years, and has now decided to raise its annual grant to £3,500. This is wonderful news for more women in Malawi who will no longer be prevented by poverty from realizing their hopes of higher education and increased employment opportunities