Active Youth Initiative for Social Enhancement - AYISE Malawi
Who we are
Established in 1995, AYISE is a registered non-governmental nonprofit, organization located in southern Malawi in the Bangwe township of Blantyre. Our mission is to encourage and enable Malawian youth to contribute positively to the social, economic and political development of their country.
AYISE exists to serve the communities of Malawi, with an emphasis towards tackling the challenges facing the young people through promotion and protection of human rights and democracy, livelihood security, environment and natural resources management and the alleviation of poverty and vulnerability, HIV and AIDS and general life conditions of Malawian communities.
Our vision is a vibrant Malawian society free from chronic poverty, where human rights are respected and enjoyed by all, citizens are healthy, hardwroking , self-reliant, peaceful, environmentally conscious and able to contribute towards national development.
AYISE is governed by a six member Board of Trustees who oversee an Executive Director and 15 + professional staff. We have approximately 300 active full time members and roughly 2,000 other types of members. Our focus is on youth.
Our program efforts are very diverse, ranging from livelihood security to HIV/AIDS education and prevention. As part of our efforts, we work within various schools in poor areas of Blantyre to develop libraries and at our own Bangwe Youth Centre in Blantyre where we offer computer classes and many other activities for young people.
What daily life is like here
Blantyre is the commercial capital of Malawi and so is an urban environment. Many areas of the city do not benefit from paved roads or indoor plumbing. Most people have a garden near their home where they grow much food as they can. Malawi is poor and over three quarters of our people live on less than $2/day. Life expectancy is age 50, partially due to a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, but also affected by high rates of infection of diarrhea, hepatits A, typhoid fever, malaria, plague, snail fever and rabies.
Soccer is popular among all ages. Traditional dancing and crafts are also popular, especially basketry, mask carving, and wood carving.
Since 1994, the government has offered free primary education. Children speak Chichewa, one of 10 native tribal language in Malawi, until school age, when they begin to learn English in school. Schoolchildren wear a school uniform and walk to school. Our youth literacy rate has risen from 68% in 2000 to 82% in 2007. Girls are more likely to drop out than boys. Some of the challenges have included a lack of reading materials and a shortage of teachers.
Why we work with the African Library Project
Our schools are overcrowded and classrooms can have 100 students per teacher. Often there are no reading materials available for the students to use for learning. Our teachers must teach what they can remember from their own education. Without books, education opportunities are limited and must proceed at the pace the teacher sets in the classroom.
Through our partnership with the African Library Project, we receive books for libraries in the schools we work with in poor areas of Blantyre and our youth center giving many students the opportunity to learn new ideas at their own pace. For most students, these libraries are the only way they have to access learning materials.
How we work with the African Library Project
Local schools interested in starting or improving a library apply through AYISE to receive books and a training manual from the African Library Project. They also receive teacher-librarian training through our partnership with the Wungwero Book Foundation.
When the books arrive, our staff goes to the customs zone and helps unpack the container and sort the books. We get very excited when this happens. We then distribute the books to the schools who have applied through us for a library. We periodically check on the library's progress and offer support to ensure its success.
What we have accomplished with ALP
In 2009, we were able to start eight libraries in partnership with the African Library Project - six primary school libraries, one community library and one library at our youth center serving teens and young adults. Each year we have added new libraries.
Our hopes and wishes
We hope to continue to foster the development of libraries throughout the Blantyre area, especially in poor neighborhoods, year after year from now on!
How you can help
Please run a book drive for Malawi. Our container from the African Library Project usually has a June 1st deadline for book drives to meet. So please help us by collecting books and raising money to send a library to one of our schools. Thousands of children benefit from each library.
Our sincere thanks to the people making it happen
We wish to thank the following American book drive organizers for their hard work in collecting and sending us books: Brownie Troop 60077, Hillbrook School 6th Graders, Corte Madera School, Judy Lesage's Homeschool, Alice Pope Barbut and team, Nancy Wilson, Dr. Andrew Goldsborough, Knollwood School (2009) Northfield Cannon Lions Club, Hillbrook School, Penn State International Affairs Service Committee and Michael Gottfried (2010). We also thank the Wungwero Book Foundation and DAPP Malawi for their assistance.
ALP Libraries in Malawi: 172 (August 2013)
Readers reached: 230,000