Violet Chavula – Malawi

She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.
Violet Chavula is the women’s coordinator with the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (Ccap), in charge of Blantyre presbytery. After living in London for several years, she moved to a remote village in Malawi. She is engaged in advocacy for the rights of girls and women and the protection of orphans.

She says: “Influencing age-old tradition requires one’s patience and perseverance. You must be humble, use tact and respect their beliefs”.

She says also: “When you educate a man you educate an individual, when you educate a woman you educate a whole family”, Charles D. McIver’s words epitomize Violet Chavula’s passion.

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Sorry, I can not find any photo of Violet Chavula, Malawi in the internet.

She works for the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian Ccap.

Violet, 70, has dedicated her life to empowering women and girls and caring for orphans.

As the women’s coordinator with the Presbyterian Church in Blantyre presbytery, she champions equal rights for girls and women using a holistic approach.

Violet begins by encouraging women in the spiritual walk. From bible studies to women fellowship meetings, “The fear of God,” Violet says, “is the beginning of wisdom.”

Violet runs adult literacy classes for women. Education as a sound foundation for self-growth and community development cannot be emphasized enough.

But without food security, education appears futile. Violet trains women in basic agriculture. “I teach these women how to improve and sustain good harvest using basic agriculture methods like making compost manure. There is enough for the family’s nourishment and the surplus is sold for other household uses”.

Violet also trains women in health management skills, promoting good hygiene and sanitation. “Disease and poor health can deal a major blow to the family’s progress,” she firmly states.

Convincing the village folk on the value of girls’ education is a major undertaking. Culture confines the value of girls to marriage and household chores. Sending a girl to school is considered a waste of time and resources. “It’s not easy,” Violet confesses. “I deal with a tradition dating back in history.” But patience she stresses is very critical. “Influencing age old tradition requires one’s patience and perseverance. You must be humble; use tact and respect their beliefs.”

In many villages, girls are rushed into marriages as soon as they reach puberty. These marriages are usually a failure. The girls are either immature to handle marriage or their husbands cheat on them. According to Violet, this has increased the prevalence of HIV and AIDS in the villages. “Usually these girls will get married a couple of times before they settle down,” which adds the crisis of orphans.

Her focus was never orphans until a tragic incident years ago. Four girls could not grasp their predicament. Soon after their mother died after delivering a fifth daughter, their father deserted them. They faced another tragedy when the little baby fell sick and died shortly after. An eighty-year-old woman in their village, saddened by their tragedy, adopted the girls. They moved into the woman’s little hut surviving on her meager resources.

Victoria Chavula was stunned by this woman’s compassion and dismayed by the younger community’s apathy. She mobilized the youth to renovate the woman’s hut and the community’s support for the woman and the girls.

But soon, Violet faced another disturbing issue. The old woman had no plans for the girls’ education, but rather for them to mature and get married. She relentlessly implored the woman and convinced her to send the girls to school. Stirred by this event, Violet began to advocate for girls education within the community and started a program to care for orphans in the village and its environs.

Sixteen years on, Violet’s commitment to this cause has not waned. Her greatest challenge, “fighting attitudes is no simple game,” she whispers behind her modest smile. Violet involves community leaders at all levels. “I involve chiefs, political leaders, church leaders, businessmen and youth leaders. I involve everybody.” This is a deliberate strategy to ensure the community takes ownership of these initiatives.

“When local people own a project or a program, they are more responsible and supportive,” says Violet. “But on the flipside, it is tough to work with an illiterate society. They are resistant to new ideas.”

Violet attributes her success to the moral support from other women. “I would not be where I am today without the cooperation of women who are always around me. Without unity, there is no success in community work.”

To advocate for change, she uses dance, workshops, music and other tools of communication.

Violet’s vision is to see women becoming resourceful units in the family. She wants to see food sufficiency, healthy families, educated girls and orphans taken care of. “I want people to take pride in their own community,” says Violet with a smile. “I want peace, love and joy to flood the once impoverished village community”. (1000peacewomen).

Sorry, beside the fact to be enumerated in many lists with all 1000 nobel peace women, there is no other information in the internet showing it is the wanted person.

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