Mafulesi Matengambiri

Mafulesi Matengambiri is 62 years old and lives in Galafa village in Nsanje. She is the mother of three children, aged 20, 17, and 15. Mafulesi spent years married to a man who abused her both physically and emotionally, leaving her powerless in her own home. Her husband took total control of household decision making, using their joint earnings for his own personal enjoyment.

“I couldn’t participate in decision making, even if I earned my own money from piece work. If I contributed my own thoughts that would result in a beating” says Mafulesi.

In 2011 her husband abandoned her. She has since been solely responsible for the well-being of her household and children. To raise money or to get food to feed her children, she undertook ganyu work (manual labour), neglecting her own fields. “After working on other peoples farms I would feel tired and spent less time on my own farm.”

In November 2013, Mafulesi participated in Concern Worldwide’s Conservation Agriculture (CA) project. She was given a small amount of seed and fertilizer, and trained in techniques to improve her yields and prevent poor harvests in drought years. She was also provided with two goats; when these reproduced, she passed on the kids on to another vulnerable household. A major breakthrough came when she joined a Village Savings and Loan (VS&L) group, which enabled her to start up a small business selling tomatoes. Through her VS&L, she has already saved MK 16,200 which she plans to use to expand her business.

  • This case study was prepared as part of the Gallery Exhibition to commemorate the visit of the President of the Republic of Ireland, His Excellency Michael D Higgins to Malawi in November 2014, and later to coincide with the launch of the 16 Days of Activism against GBV on November the 25th, 2014.
  • Pictures taken by : Chipiliro Khonje