143 Chiefs Want Victory Gardens

Above: Group Village Headman of Kazitenge Village —
Addressing Crowd at The Face-to-Face Project Victory Garden Event

Kazitenge Village Chiefs Dancing at F2F Event

Overlooked by government and large charities, tribal chiefs are traditional leaders in the everyday lives of villagers. Chiefs command respect and support, and that’s why The Face-to-Face Project works closely with them.
In the past 2 weeks, 143 chiefs came to The Face-to-Face Project victory garden events. They all know The Face-to-Face Project doesn’t provide handouts or material goods, and they understand that we require them to create victory gardens at their own homes.
The head chief of Kazitenge village, in a red coat above, celebrates with fellow chiefs because most of his residents have victory gardens. He tells other chiefs that his people are growing their own food, without spending money. He explains that villagers are healthier, children go to school, and crime has gone down.
Chief Kazitenge urges other chiefs to follow his lead. In 5 districts in Malawi, that’s exactly what chiefs are doing.
Demand for victory gardens is sky high. And The Face-to-Face Project believes the sky’s the limit.

Saukani Does the Math

Above: Saukani Chatha and one of his daughters in his dry maize field.

Like millions of African subsistence farmers, Saukani Chatha depends on growing maize in the short rainy season to feed his family through the year.
This year was difficult. Saukani’s small plot yielded 3 bags of maize, worth $24. His expenses — seeds, sacks, milling — was $16. His own labor isn’t part of the calculations. 
Three months later, no one is surprised that Saukani has no maize to eat. That’s because this is the reality, year after year, of most villagers. Maize as a cash crop has never worked, and it’s clear it never will. The chemical fertilizer and pesticides alone, which burn the soil, make it harder to grow maize with each passing year. 
This year, Saukani learned to create a Face-to-Face Project victory garden next to his house. Within weeks, he was harvesting food. In a couple months, Saukani realized he could feed his family of 5 and earn $1.25 a week selling surplus vegetables. 
$8 from his maize cash crop. Or $1.25 x 52 weeks from his victory garden.
You can do the math.

Honor Your Roots, Eat Your Vegetables

Above: Traditional Tchope Dance & Victory Garden Vegetables
at The Face-to-Face Project’s Mtambalika Event in Phalombe

Malawians believe that maize = Africa = life. 
But maize came from the Americas and doesn’t grow well in Malawi’s dry climate. That’s why The Face-to-Face Project’svictory gardens promote faster, more easily grown leafy greens and grains that are indigenous to Malawi. 
These plants like Malawi’s climate, and they’re high in nutrition. Plus, they taste great too!
Because many villagers have forgotten how to eat these plants, we re-introduce them in events that feature traditional dust-raising, crowd-thrilling dancing.  
Honor your heritage, stomp your feet, and eat your vegetables. 

Emily Creates 355 Gardens

Face-to-Face Project Garden Facilitator, Emily Kayama, poses alongside husband and wife, Jessie and Shadreck Chindiwo, in their garden in Phunduma village, Malawi.

Emily Kayama, above wearing black, is one of 30 villagers who first learned about victory gardens in November 2017. Emily loved the idea of growing vegetables at no cost next to the home so much, that she asked to be a garden facilitator to help her fellow villagers.  

Emily and 3 other team members have created a whopping 355 gardens in just 8 months, including helping Jessie and Shadreck Chindiwo, pictured here, create their garden. The couple now harvests over 10 vegetable varieties, giving the family good, nutritious food, and saving them from buying food at the market.

Growing Stronger With Victory Gardens

We are so excited to announce that since we launched The Victory Garden Campaign in July of 2016 in Malawi, 15,000 gardens have been created, reaching 1,089 villages, and helping 45,000 families.

Big thanks to all of our amazing supporters. Because of your generosity the Campaign has had a real impact, helping people not only grow enough food to eat, but also earn an income, improve nutrition, lead healthy lives, and become self-reliant. Thanks for being our Champions of Change!

We Know How To Fight Hunger!

Mary Bitoni, above, just after creating her victory garden on November 9, 2017

Last November, Mary Bitoni created an organic victory garden next to her house. Returning to Malawi this week, I met Mary again — actually she ran for us to make sure we saw her garden.

Just two months after she broke earth, her lush garden provides food every day. She didn’t spend a penny and she now harvests over 7 kinds of vegetables.

In Mary’s community, The Face-to-Face Project has created over 700 victory gardens since November 2017.

We know how to fight hunger.

And Mary’s tremendous smile keeps us moving forward.

Mary on January 17, 2018 in her lush new garden

Food For Thought

The underlying belief of our Victory Garden Campaign is simple -- anyone, even the poorest villager, can grow plenty of food to feed their families. 

We met Selina yesterday. 3 months ago, her family was malnourished. Today she has tomatoes, beans, squash, cassava, sweet potato, leafy greens, okra, and more. 

Selina didn't spend a penny to create her garden. No chemical fertilizers. No inputs. And now she has food.

Good, nutritious food.

Thank you, my friends. For Selina, and the many other Malawians, your support has made this possible. 

On The Ground Fighting Hunger: Peer-To-Peer, Face-To-Face

Face-to-Face is delighted to announce we have partnered with the Ekari Foundation to bring Victory Gardens into the Phalombe district in Southern Malawi. 

At F2F, we believe in peer-to-peer teaching to train locals to become garden facilitators who then teach fellow villagers how to create home gardens. These chiefs and leaders then work with other tribal districts, in this case Phalombe, generating a collective sense of inspiration and motivation as villages across Malawi learn that they can grow enough food to eat. 

Last week, F2F brought 4 of our local facilitators to conduct a 3-day workshop near Mulanje, Malawi's highest mountain. After a warm, exuberant welcome, 35 Phalombe villagers created low-cost high-yield Victory Gardens, friendships were formed, and a promise was made that all 225 families in Phalombe would have gardens by July 2017.

F2F Surpasses 2,700 Victory Gardens

F2F arrived in Malawi earlier this week and we wanted to update everyone on all the amazing progress going on in the field. As of February 3rd, 330 NEW Victory Gardens have been planted since our last count in early January.

We have now surpassed 2,700 Victory Gardens created in our three tribal districts since the Campaign's launch in July 2016, and that number is constantly growing.

We are bowled over with the lushness of many of the gardens, and with every garden created we are one step closer to winning the war against hunger. 

More updates to come over the next week, but we wanted to share this very exciting news with everyone who helped make this possible. So thank YOU for your ongoing commitment to F2F and here's to 2,000 more!

Where There's A Will, There's A Way

So it's started!  100+ local facilitator training groups of villagers learning how to create home Victory Gardens. 

Over the past two days 132 gardens were created. 

By the end of the month, over 700 new gardens will be planted. And this will continue through 2017. 

We are going to win the war against hunger, because for the villagers with some new knowledge, where there's a will, there IS a way.

Rising Stars!

Not sure I know another place that has more joy, even though they've had very dark hardships here. This is the Teen Club, aka the Rising Stars, F2F’s HIV+ youth group in Lilongwe that we’ve worked with for many years.

They’ve come a long, long way, and the reason is that it’s a family of love and trust.

*A special thank you to Chrigu and BeastMode Bern for your amazing support to this group.

Update From The Field: We Can Learn!

We Can Learn.

Her grave situation made worse by a crippling drought, HIV+ Silva wondered if she and her family would survive the famine of 2016. As part of F2F’s Victory Garden Campaign, other HIV+ mothers and F2F volunteers helped Silva create a no-cost high-yield home garden in August.

By September, Silva’s garden thrived, even though the practices were very new to her.

November 8, this is Silva, in her garden. Silva helped neighbors create their own victory gardens. Silva and her village are surviving the biggest humanitarian crisis in Malawi’s history.

So many people are angry that their government isn’t doing anything for them. Being just angry, and voting with anger, doesn’t solve long-term problems. Doing things for yourself and your community does, and Silva knows she now has food to feed her children.

Compared to August when no one had victory garden, a whopping 60% of homes in Silva’s village now have victory gardens. While millions of bags of food relief for Malawi pile up in distribution pile-up, Silva and her village are counting on themselves to control their future.

We can all learn from this!

Permaculture and Food Security in Malawi

On May 14th, 2015, The Face-to-Face Project held a cocktail party at The Penn Club to discuss the status of our permaculture and food security programs in Malawi. Sponsored by Raana Khan, the evening featured a presentation by Founder and Executive Director Ken Wong, who shared what The Face-to-Face Project is doing to combat hunger, and the remarkable impact the work is having on families and communities in Malawi. Thank you to the long-time supporters and new faces who joined us, and to Raana Khan for so generously sponsoring the evening! 

Update from the field: News on Bright

Dear F2F friends,

17 year old Bright Angase is out of the hospital, and out of immediate danger, for now. But because his AIDS related illnesses are so advanced, his prognosis is very challenging. First task is to make Bright as strong as possible, in preparation for any future possibly hard treatments. One kilo every 2 weeks. And our F2F team will be with Bright every step of the way.

Gotta keep looking up…!

Ken Wong, Founder and Executive Director

Update from the field: Permaculture in Malawi

Dear F2F friends, 

Permaculture - that comes from "permanent agriculture". That's living sustainably and organically off the land, and it really could be a matter of life and death here in Malawi - recently picked as the poorest country in the world by one source. 

A huge callout to our friends in Oberlin, Ohio, as well as the Isora Foundation, for helping F2F make such a huge impact and giving the people the ability to free themselves. 

Ken Wong, Founder and Executive Director

Update from the field: Bright fights for his life

Dear F2F friends, 

Bright Angase is an HIV+ boy on our Rising Stars team - the first HIV+ youth sports team in the continent. He's 17. I've known him for years and he's a wonderful kid. He's been so sick most of his life. 

Bright is in one of the main hospitals in Malawi - when we visited him, he could barely raise his head. He hasn't eaten in days, and KS sores are eating away at his body. Not to mention TB and malaria. 

F2F doesn't deal with direct medical intervention, but we're doing everything we can to get Bright the treatment that we in the West take for granted. But until that actually happens, I now a child's life, at moments like this, can hinge on the child himself. So today, a new shirt, some airplane paraphernalia, saying we think he could be a start in this August's Youth Tournament of Hope - such small things to make Bright be strong inside. 

It's really one day at a time. I'll let you know what happens. 

Ken Wong, Founder and Executive Director

Rising Stars Football and Netball teams from Malawi!

Our openly HIV+ boys football and girls netball teams - playing in public for the first time. The girls got beaten but they did score 2 goals - and you can see the look on Constance's face how happy she is to be playing. The boys played a team made up of village chiefs - the boys played their hearts out, and managed a tie. 

Face-to-Face couldn't find another openly HIV+ youth sports team, so not only did the Rising Stars make their debut, they just might have also made history. We're so proud of them, and you've all helped make this happen. 

Verde Valley School Visits Chadika Township in Malawi

Pictures of students from the Verde Valley School in Sedona, AZ on their service trip to Malawi. Students stopped by the Chadika township to work with Youth Group members, community members and F2F staff. The Verde Valley School is helping to fund F2F's annual Tournament of Hope in Malawi. 

Permaculture Training Arrives in Kang'oma

F2F's permaculture initiative has now arrived in the Kang'oma community! Our workshop saw participants from all walks of life; chiefs, community leaders, church leaders, the youths, farmers, and women. It is uncommon to have all these people together in one room, so the fact that the Kang'oma came together in the spirit of education, skill building, and sustainability is especially momentous. This project is sure to unite Kong'oma's people as they work to improve their community.