Transparency in Malawi Makes Big Events Possible

On July 24, 2016, F2F began the Chadika Victory Garden public event and Youth Tournament of Hope. We had a huge crowd, a smashing success, and an amazing atmosphere of joy and hope -- much needed in this time of drought and food crisis.


F2F requires communities to take ownership of activities and events. That means giving them money in order to put on a big public event, showcasing victory gardens, youth groups, outreach, and sports.


Giving money in societies where there is no money is challenging -- it can quickly bring about jealousies, misunderstandings, and misuse. 


We make the exchange happen in public -- in this photo, villagers receive money from F2F, count it, and then give it to their local community organization. Transparency is key.


Our victory gardens help parents raise healthy children!  In Malawi, 40% of children under age 5 are stunted, like Patricia Batoni's baby. A maize-only diet isn't so great. But Patricia is now growing 8 kinds of vegetables in her victory garden, which will bring better nutrition to her children. 

The Victory Garden Campaign Launch in Malawi!

Ken Wong reports directly from Malawi:

“I'm back in Malawi, preparing the launch of our biggest campaign ever -- the Victory Garden Campaign to help 100,000 Malawians in the time of drought and hunger. The country faces its worst food crisis ever, with half its population needing food relief by the end of the year.

Today in Kanjoka village meeting, we learned that all 4 of its wells were dry, and the government warned that anyone caught taking water from the river (still a 30 minute walk) to water a garden would get a fine of $14,000 and 5 years in prison. True or not, I don't know, but a bucket to use for drinking and washing is ok; a bucket to water your vegetable garden isn't. It's all insane.

Though just a couple of months into the dry season, everyone already knows neighbors who have no food. Our victory gardens will save lives — Kanjoka villagers carry river water up to their homes, wash dishes and bathe, and use every drop for their home gardens. 

In the face of extreme hunger, there is beauty in the human spirit.”

CNFA Farmer-to-Farmer expert, Phineas Ellis, to work with F2F

F2F has been awarded a volunteer grant from the international nonprofit, Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture's Farmer-to-Farmer program. This program works to generate rapid development to agricultural sectors through short-term assistance provided by US volunteers who are experts in their fields. 

Phineas Ellis, an expert in environmental social work, has been a CNFA Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer expert in Mozambique. F2F welcomes Phineas to Malawi in September, where he will be training teams of village representatives on advanced practices regarding high-yield low-cost victory gardens and other sustainable farming practices.  

F2F sets event dates to launch Victory Garden Campaign in Malawi

July 6, 2016 (Brooklyn, New York)

—Face-to-Face announces the dates and activities of 3 community events near Lilongwe to launch The Victory Garden Campaign to Fight the Food Crisis in Malawi to help 100,000 Malawians ward off hunger by cultivating high-yield, low-cost home gardens. With Malawi facing its worst food crisis since 1985 due to severe drought and a 42% maize harvest decline over two years, this campaign provides a long-term, alternative solution to reduce the nation’s dependence on maize.

The Victory Garden Campaign

The Victory Garden Campaign teaches villagers to create 2.5 meter squared home gardens that utilize organic, bio-intensive, and permaculture practices, and continually produce food even through the dry season. The victory gardens also reduce the risk of relying solely on one crop (maize), increase income by selling surplus food, decrease costs by eliminating chemical fertilizers, improve soil quality, and reduce erosion. 22,000 households — 100,000 people based on an average of 4.5 people per family — will benefit from victory gardens by the end of 2017.

The Launch of the Campaign

Face-to-Face, a nonprofit that enables the poor to rely on themselves to break the cycle of poverty, will launch the Campaign with three public events, as follows:

1.   TRADITIONAL AUTHORITY CHISEKA DISTRICT LAUNCH EVENT & CHADIKA YOUTH TOURNAMENT OF HOPE Sunday, 24 July: 10am – 6pm, Chadika Community-based Organization, near Mitundu city.  Victory garden demonstrations and village tour; youth group garden dramas, song, & dance competition;  boys football  and girls netball tournament finals

2. TRADITIONAL AUTHORITY TSABANGO DISTRICT LAUNCH EVENT & KANG’OMA YOUTH TOURNAMENT OF HOPE,  Sunday, 31 July: 10am – 6pm, Traditional Authority Tsabango’s home and Kang’oma Community-based Organization, near Lilongwe. TA victory garden demonstration and garden tour, presentation of TA garden to the community, demonstration to TA by the HIV+ Strong & Positive Mother’s Club of Kang’oma, village tour; youth group garden dramas, song & dance competition; boys football and girls netball tournament finals

3.  TRADITIONAL AUTHORITY MALILI DISTRICT LAUNCH EVENT & MCHENGA YOUTH TOURNAMENT OF HOPE, Saturday, 6 August: 10am – 6pm, Mchenga Community-based Organization, outside of Likuni Parish, Lilongwe. Victory garden demonstrations and village tour; youth group garden dramas, song, & dance competition; boys football and girls netball tournament finals

 For more information about the campaign or the events, please email:

#  #  #

Malawi farmers increase crop output with new "A" frame technique!

Sometimes, it seems so obvious.....

In the workshop for farmers from 14 different villages (who'll each then immediately train 25 villagers), they learn to use an "A" frame. This helps them create beds that accommodate 3 rows of crops, rather than the usual 2 rows.

We're all used to planting in beds that have 2 rows. 3 rows is just as easy to care for. Conserves water. And produces 50% more.

From the Ground Up in Malawi


I know of no other charity in Malawi that spends as much time in the field as Face-to-Face. Just this trip, we've sat in dirt offices, on a road, in fields of flowers, and of course under the shade of trees. We're working on relationships with so many villages — all with the goal of harnessing the strength of community.

In the meetings, everyone is included — youth, women, men, HIV+ people, chiefs. Everyone is asked to talk. Most important, everyone is encouraged to work together.

Our on-the-ground approach works. We're now collaborating with over 200 chiefs, and they're mobilizing their villages to act now to fight hunger and disease. They can't wait any longer for outside aid or their government to help them.

In the face of Malawi's drought and economic failure, the work of F2F is all the more important! Thank you for making it possible for us to do what we do.

Top Chief in Malawi Gets a Victory Garden!


With the chance of a major drought, these gardens are becoming increasingly crucial. So to reach more people, F2F has received the go-ahead from the most important chief in Malawi to create 2 gardens right in front of his house.  

This chief, TA Tsabango, shown closest to the camera with former president Joyce Banda, is responsible for 348 village chiefs and hundreds of thousands of people. When these chiefs visit his house for meetings, they'll surely marvel at our gardens, which will look like mini jungles.

Most charity interventions ignore the tribal chief structure, instead going through government channels. F2F works with the chiefs because they are connected with the people.

TA Tsabango can't believe we can grow vegetables on such bare, hard-packed plot, but he says he's excited to get his hands dirty working with compost and manure side-by-side with our garden team.

Racing to increase food production in Malawi by 400%.

Malawi usually has rain from December through April, during which everyone grows maize. The rest of the year is rainless, with 80% of the fields turning barren and dusty. This is the emergency, before the emergency the world will read about. F2F’s most important 2016 project averts hunger and death. Already wells have run bone dry. Add in 25% inflation and a downward-spiraling currency and it’s foolish not to prepare for trouble.

The rains are dismal this year. The maize is wilting and the government has asked people to pray for rain. Global predictions place the center of a major drought on this part of Africa — El Nino’s impact. In Malawi, drought results in death.

Face-to-Face has a solution. Currently 10% of families in 14 tribal districts benefit from practical permaculture, bringing in food, nutrition, and income to the family. No investment, 300% increase in yield, less risk. We need to scale up and scale up now. That’s why we’ve launched our “10-to-50 Anti-Hunger Project,” which will increase the number of families growing more food from 10% to 50%. We’ll achieve this by training village reps to be permaculture facilitators, who’ll then teach 25-member village teams. This results in experts teaching where they live — peer-to-peer. By March, we’ll have over 500 villagers with permaculture training teaching their friends, relatives, and neighbors.  This is a 400% increase. This is survival.


By the end of this year, half the population of 14 districts will be managing water, diversifying plantings, growing drought-tolerant plants, mulching, composting, and changing diet and lifestyles.

We can save lives. And by we, I mean the villagers, F2F, and support from people who can help now!

Meet The Strong & Positive Mother’s Club in Malawi.

Left to right:

Joyce: age 57. Husband died of AIDS. Lost 8 of her 10 children, some to HIV.

Nasoko: age 46. Husband died of AIDS. Takes care of 8 people.

Agness: age 70. Husband died of AIDS. Lost 3 children, perhaps to HIV.

You can tell from the photo that these are strong women.

Rural HIV+ mothers form a club where they learn about permaculture, leadership, public speaking, and HIV skills — and then they go out, disclose their HIV status, and teach all villagers how to grow more food, get tested for HIV, and inspire HIV+ women and men to not feel ashamed and excluded.

This new 2016 F2F project pioneers the way for rural women to gain respect by teaching others about permaculture —everyone now wants home gardens. And by turning the stigmatized into role models, we’re sure this soon-to-be 8-member club will motivate hundreds to get tested and scores to begin disclosing their HIV+ status.

From a hot and sunny Malawi,



Severe drought condition in Malawi

In 2015, Malawi’s inflation was 25%, maize (Malawi’s staple food) prices doubled, and the local currency continued tumbling against the dollar – from 450 kwacha/$1 in January 2015 to 700 kwacha/$1 this month.

I can assure you that when people are hungry, every other problem gets even worse.

12-year-old Chifundo and her parents (the mother has her own 3-year-old baby) urged Chifundo to marry the young boy who got her pregnant. We understand – there’s no money to feed Chifundo, and certainly not her baby, so now the boy’s family could feed her and the baby. The marriage didn’t happen – the boy’s parents refused. We try to keep an eye on Chifundo and her baby, to make sure they are doing ok. Last month, their house caved in, injuring Chifundo’s father.

If people can grow enough food, that’s the first step. Issues of early marriage, HIV, health, education — for people who are starving, that’s not what’s on their minds. Face-to-Face believes these issues can be dealt with by first promoting sustainable, affordable, diversified farming practices.


Exploring Your Own Backyard

The Battambang Youth Plus Group visited the Banan Temple on Saturday, May 23rd - the students were full of questions for their guide as they learned about the history of the temple and the materials used to build it. They also learned about the importance of the mountain around the temple during the Pol Pot regime.

A great learning experience as these young men and women get to know the history of their city - with some time for games as well!

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! 

Good supporters mean everything!

Last month, we posted about our work with the Boeungkak School, and thanked The Church-in-the-Gardens for their continued support of this school. The World Service Committee at the church is currently working hard to put together a dinner benefitting The Face-to-Face Project and the Boeungkak School - you can learn more about their incredible work by visiting their website, and, if you are interested in supporting this project, by visiting their fundraising page. 

The work we do is only possible because of the generosity of individuals and communities like The Church-in-the-Gardens - and we are incredibly grateful for their support! 

March 21, 2015

Six years ago, Face-to-Face began working with our local partner in Cambodia, Salvation Centre Cambodia (SCC), creating a pilot school for the poorest children in one of the worse slumbs in Phnom Penh. 

For many of these children, this was their only opportunity to pursue their education, and nurturing and teaching them was a daunting task for two young teachers, Miss Lalin and Miss Kanha. 

And here are our two teachers today - still with us, and still making a huge impact on the children, their families and their community. What heroes they are! 

A very special thanks to our friends and supporters at Church-in-the-Gardens in Forest Hills for making this school possible. 

Update from the field: The Future is Theirs

Dear F2F friends, 

Long Nit, age 15, lives with her sister and grandmother in this house near Siem Reap. Both sister are HIV+, lost their parents to AIDS, and have fallen many grades behind in school as they struggle to find money just to feed themselves. 

The F2F Siem Reap Center began working with Nit 2 years ago - since then, we've seen Nit advance to grade 5, we've introduced her to traditional music and dance, and we've even helped her discover a love of growing orchids. 

Nit has also grained confidence in the possibilities for the future - not just for herself, but for her family and her community as well. That's why Nit is now our youth group president. 

The future for the poor in Cambodia may be even more challenging than in Malawi, as social norms and systematic corruption here can feel overwhelming. Few Cambodians feel they can change the system - but if anyone can, it will be young leaders like Long Nit, who are beginning to see that their future depends on their self-reliance. 

Helping people help themselves - that's what F2F is all about. 

This is my last dispatch as I head toward home - along the way, I'll be stopping in Tokyo for meetings with the former Japanese ambassador to Cambodia and the current Malawi ambassador to Japan and Australia. Wish me luck that they may see the value and impact of what F2F is doing. 

Thank you, our friends and supporters, for letting me share my F2F experiences with you these past 6 weeks. It's been a privilege to do so. 

best wishes, 

Ken Wong, Founder and Executive Director                                                                                                                                

Everyone’s voices are heard

Dear F2F friends, 

On the last day of our workshop on self-reliance, everyone participated in making their programs even better. 

Here, two of the women were the poorest farmers in our organic farming program — and now, their voices are crucial in strengthening these programs and increasing their impact.

Their voices, their programs. Let the women’s voices be heard!

Ken Wong, Founder and Executive Director                                                                                                                                               



Update from the field: Self-reliance in Cambodia

Dear F2F friends, 

As the western world turns its attention on the most critical areas of the world, a great number of Cambodia's poorest are facing severe funding shortages. 

Yesterday, F2F commenced a 3 day one-of-a-kind workshop to help our partner organization, F2F*SCC learn how to proactively manage our programs so they can successfully help our poorest people become self-reliant. 

Ian Kearney, the F2F Board Chair leads this 3 day workshop with compassion, humor and skill. And a certain degree of coolness in this 98 degree, humid, tropical weather... 

Ken Wong, Founder and Executive Director