A local chief during a special ceremony.

A chief is an important figure in rural Malawi. They are responsible for leading others, disseminating information, resolving disputes, and advocating for those they serve. They are important figures. They also hold much power. That’s why Pamoza’s work in the community always involves them. But to us, the word CHIEF is more than a notable figure in the community, it is how we summarize our integrated approach to community development.

Pamoza believes in meeting the physical and spiritual needs of the families we serve. We do that by developing CHIEFs in each family – loving and moral Character, improved Health, higher Incomes, critical knowledge through Education, and production of adequate Food. We seek to develop these areas in a sustainable way that leads families to be secure in all aspects of their development.

Character is attained through Christian outreach activities in which the organization’s goal is to enable households to be more loving and moral in their behavior, something that can be attained only when Christ rules in household members’ hearts.

Health is attained through healthcare activities including primary healthcare such as promoting proper hygiene and sanitation, curative activities through medical clinics, and teaching good nutrition practices.

Income is attained through facilitating entrepreneurship, which focuses on enabling families to be more creative in the use of their resources (meager though these may be) to create income for their households. Our key strategy in this area has been village savings and loans groups where people save their own money as a group and loan to each other to help start small business ventures.

Education is attained through improving educational practices and students’ performance in schools. This involves (a) childcare and development centers (CDCs) where we reach kids below school age, (b) helping kids in primary schools through school breakfast and working with teachers to do a better job of teaching, (c) paying tuition for needy students in high school and colleges, and (d) facilitating adult functional literacy training.

Food is attained through agricultural activities aimed at helping households to sustainably produce enough nutritious food and to use the food well. Agricultural activities also facilitate the production of surplus crops and animal products for sale.

Prior to implementing the CHIEF approach, Pamoza focused on targeting families like this one to help them grow enough food for the year. Now we will be doing even more.

The integrative approach involves experts in Christian outreach, health and nutrition, income generation ventures, education, and agriculture working with Community Development Facilitators to identify needs, problems, and opportunities along with resources in a family, aligning these to CHIEFs then listening, learning, and engaging the families in setting CHIEF goals and striving to attain the goals. Development Facilitators and all Pamoza staff are reference points in the attainment of CHIEFs. As the organization reaches families, these become examples that other families can emulate. The process is contiguous; knowledge is passed on from one family to another creating communities of learning.