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Mary Robinson meets Enestina from Malawi

18 July 2018

It's not every day you meet the former president of Ireland. Nor is it every day you meet a girl who was on the front of the Trócaire box.

Mary Robinson and Ernestina, now 15 years old. Photo: Cosmos Chikalamba/Trócaire

Mary Robinson and Enestina, now 15 years old. Photo: Cosmos Chikalamba/Trócaire

Listening to the women of Kanyera

Mary Robinson recently visited the Malawian village of Kanyera to meet with local families and also met with Enestina Muyeye, who was formerly on the Trócaire box in 2014.

The former President of Ireland visited this village which has been affected by the impact of climate change. Trócaire is working here with local partner CADECOM trying to improve people's livelihoods. Mary Robinson was interested in particular to learn from women about their daily lives, and how Trócaire's project has improved their community.

The women highlighted four changes:

  1. A new bridge. This connects the village to other towns, where before it was cut off. An ambulance from the nearest hospital can now reach the village. Also, secondary school children are able to go to school which is very far from their village.
     
  2. A new borehole. It has helped to reduce the cases of diarrhoea in the village.
     
  3. Irrigation farming. One woman said she does not harvest enough during the rainy season but through irrigating she is able to supplement the harvest and now has enough food throughout the year.
     
  4. A new school block. This has provided space for more children to go to school. Before the school block there were more school dropouts.

The solutions to climate change are with women

Many of the challenges that the village face have been caused by climate change and the changing and unpredictable weather patterns.

Speaking to the village, Mary Robinson said that "climate change is caused by man but the solution is with women’’. She also believes in working for climate justice and that means that people, like those living in Kanyera, should have what others in developed countries have.

Mary Robinson speaks in the village of Kanyeru

Mary Robinson meets with the village of Kanyeru in the Dedza district of Malawi.

Meeting a former President

As well as meeting with the women in the community, Mary Robinson also met 15 year old Enestina Muyeye.

Enestina is also from Kanyera, and she featured on the Trócaire 2014 Lenten box. She has just completed primary school.  She is awaiting her results and hopes to be starting secondary school after the summer.

Enestina says she had a "great day" meeting Mary Robinson and she felt great to be getting attention from everyone. 

When asked what her own dream is, Enestina responded: "I would like to be a teacher and my dream is to go to university". Her role model is her "head teacher in Kanyera Primary school". 

When asked why she would want to be a teacher, Enestina has a practical answer: "I will be earning money at the end of the month" and adds that "I also like to impart knowledge to others".

 Cosmos Chikalamba.

Mary Robinson with Enestina, her mother, her sister Tereza (8) and youngest sister Hana (three months old), in front of Kanyera primary school. Photo by Jeannette Wijnants/Trócaire.

 Jeannette Wijnants/Trócaire.

Enestina and Mrs Beatrice Maluza, Head teacher and Principal of Kanyera Primary school. Photo: Jeannette Wijnants/Trócaire.

Enestina’s message to children in Ireland

Enestina is very grateful to all who donated to the Trócaire box and supported development in her village, and for other children like her in Malawi.

She has the following message to children in Ireland: 

"Some things are better now, but there are still a lot more challenges in my village. This year we did not receive good rains and we did not have enough harvest".

"Thank you for your support and caring. Please like us you should work hard in school and can you continue supporting us?"

Through our local partners, Trócaire will continue to support the people in the community of Kanyeru, and others like them in Malawi. 

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