Rising Strong: Phalombe’s Resilience and The Hunger Project’s Transformative Impact

The Hunger Project
4 min readAug 18


By Afia Darteh, Communications Officer, Africa Region, The Hunger Project

My colleagues from The Hunger Project and I with Bertha Mawindo and her neighbors from Phalombe, Malawi, June 2023

In the vibrant African nation of Malawi, nestled amidst the rolling hills and picturesque landscapes, lies the Phalombe community. This serene region faced a devastating blow when Cyclone Freddy swept through their homes, leaving destruction in its wake, and testing their spirits. Little did they know that their recovery would be forever intertwined with the transformative work of The Hunger Project.

The Power of VCA

Through the Scaling Up Nutrition Project implemented by The Hunger Project, the Phalombe communities embraced our Vision, Commitment, and Action (VCA) Strategy long before the cyclone struck. This visionary approach helped the community feel empowered, instilling a sense of self-reliance, and transforming their mindset from “I can’t” to “I can” and “we can.” This transformation equipped Phalombe with the resilience needed to confront head-on the challenges brought by the cyclone. Drawing strength from the collaborative network they had built, they assessed the damage, planned reconstruction, and prioritized the well-being of their community members.

Bertha Mawindo — A Tale of Resilience and Empowerment

Bertha Mawindo, a strong and resilient Phalombe community member, faced Cyclone Freddy’s devastating impact from 10th to 14th March 2023. As a participant in The Hunger Project’s goat pass-on program, Bertha experienced great loss when the cyclone claimed her precious goats. In addition to this, her backyard garden and crops at her farm were destroyed, and her goat house and kitchen suffered damage, leaving her living in fear as water repeatedly flooded her home.

Amidst the adversity, Bertha received critical support from The Hunger Project, providing her with various essential items, including food, blankets, cooking materials, and other necessary supplies. This assistance helped her cope during the immediate aftermath of the cyclone, providing some comfort in a time of great uncertainty.

Empowered by the knowledge she acquired from The Hunger Project’s Scaling Up Nutrition project, Bertha made a resolute commitment to preventing her child from succumbing to malnutrition and was determined to rebuild what she had lost during the cyclone’s impact. Skillfully applying the techniques she learned from the VCA training, she diligently ensured improved water, hygiene, and sanitation practices, making use of an upgraded toilet facility and maintaining a clean environment around her home.

Bertha Mawindo at her home in Phalombe, Malawi, June 2023

Once more, tapping into her newfound knowledge Bertha successfully constructed a backyard garden that proudly nurtures four varieties of local vegetables, significantly enhancing her family’s nutrition. Her unwavering dedication to her family’s well-being is evident in her commitment to nurturing a healthy and diverse diet.

Beyond her garden, Bertha also had a vision for the future. She began making bricks to renovate her kitchen and build a ‘chitetezo Mbaula’, a more permanent and efficient cooking stove. This would be a significant improvement from her current temporary fireplace, allowing her to cook with greater convenience and reduced fuel consumption.

But Bertha’s resilience and empowerment did not end with her recovery. She remains actively engaged in her community, participating in care group meetings, and visiting beneficiary households to provide them with invaluable nutrition messages. Through her efforts, she seeks to inspire and uplift others, just as The Hunger Project had done for her during the aftermath of the cyclone.

Phalombe’s Resilience: A Collective Effort

Bertha’s story is just one of the many tales of resilience within the Phalombe community. Faced with the aftermath of Cyclone Freddy, the people of Phalombe rallied together to rebuild their lives and create a brighter future. The transformative impact of The Hunger Project’s presence was evident in the community’s determination to overcome adversity and thrive once more.

In the face of loss and devastation, Phalombe’s collaboration with The Hunger Project proved invaluable. The support provided, be it essential supplies or knowledge on nutrition and self-reliance, served as a lifeline during these challenging times. The VCA strategy, deeply ingrained in the community’s approach, fostered a sense of collective empowerment that transcended individual hardships.

Group Village Head Mwenye aptly stated:

“Together, we weather the storms and rise strong, for within us lies the power to rebuild and create a future of hope.”

Phalombe’s community members showcased their resilience, hope, and tenacity. Together, they rebuilt homes, revived farms, and nurtured a spirit of togetherness that stood as a testament to the human spirit’s capacity to overcome adversity.

Let’s Join Hands

Phalombe’s story stands as an affirmation of The Hunger Project’s unwavering commitment, the effectiveness of the VCA strategy, and the power of long-term community engagement. The continuous presence and partnership with The Hunger Project and other local partners enabled Phalombe to recover and emerge stronger than ever.

Working for The Hunger Project, an organization dedicated to transforming communities and ending hunger, is genuinely fulfilling. Through our initiatives, communities like Phalombe find the strength to overcome adversity and create a future of self-reliance and dignity. We can all be part of this transformative journey by supporting The Hunger Project efforts and making a positive impact on the lives of those in need. Together, we can help Phalombe and other communities rise strong and face challenges with courage and determination.

The Hunger Project is a global development organization that transforms the systems of inequity that keep hunger in place. Learn more about our work at thp.org.



The Hunger Project

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