Introducing Mawa, World Bicycle Relief’s Newest Program

World Bicycle Relief’s newest program, Mawa: A food security project, which strives to improve the quality of food grown at home so mothers and other caregivers can ensure good health and nutrition for their children – especially those under two. World Bicycle Relief, in partnership with Catholic Relief Services*, will provide 900 bicycles to women nutrition volunteers in rural Zambia to help them reach the goals of this program.

According to Mawa research, the one thousand days from the start of a woman’s pregnancy until her child’s second birthday offer a unique window of opportunity to shape healthier and more prosperous futures. Proper nutrition and health practices during this period can make a big difference in a baby’s ability to grow into a smart, healthy and strong child. These bicycles will ensure Mawa’s nutrition volunteers will have more continuous and reliable access to the families and communities they serve. As we share this exciting new program with you and deepen our impact, there is no better way to introduce you to the program than by sharing the story of one of the first Mawa recipients, Jenny. Read on….

Jenny Zulu is a nutrition volunteer for the Mawa project in Katondo region of Eastern Province, Zambia. She lives in Mchacha village with her husband Chisoni Siolmbo and daughter Ethel Siolmbo as well as two other children, Astrida and Andric, who she cares for. Her daily routine includes doing household chores such as cleaning the house and yard, cooking meals, bathing the children and washing laundry. It is currently harvesting time, so each day she goes to her field and garden to harvest the crops and take them to the market. Since the Mawa project came to Zambia, Jenny wanted to become a nutrition volunteer to learn more about nutrition for her young daughter Ethel, who is a year and half. As a volunteer she attends monthly meetings in her area to learn about nutrition. These lessons benefit pregnant and lactating women, and children less than two years of age. Most of the lessons focus on proper nutrition for mothers and children, improved farming practices, and enhanced health and sanitation practices. After the monthly lessons, Jenny is responsible for supporting ten households in her community. The purpose of these interactive in-home visits is to improve the nutritional status of her clients. All these households exist in different villages, so before receiving her bicycle it was very difficult for Jenny to educate the households on this important information.

Before I would have to borrow a bicycle or walk to visit my households, but now everyday I am able to visit my households and continue follow up visits when needed. Jenny also now has transport to go to the health clinic for referrals on different programs through Mawa. Apart from Mawa activities, Jenny uses the bicycle for other meetings in the community and for transporting crops to the grinding mill and to market. This bicycle has really changed my life, I now have transport to go where I need, and the project has really helped my community.

The Mawa program became a possibility when world-champion triathletes, Mirinda Carfrae and Julie Dibens, committed to helping raise funds for this campaign through their 2014 Kona Challenge with a fundraising goal of $50,000. Mawa is being supported outside of WBR’s general fund and the total program cost is $75,000. Specialized made a one-time contribution of $25,000 to the program through their #pedalempowered initiative this past summer. In addition to Julie and Rinny’s support of this program, World Bicycle Relief is very grateful to Specialized’s support of this women-focused program.

Learn more about Mawa and how you can support this important new initiative

*Catholic Relief Services is the primary recipient of funds from USAID Zambia’s Feed the Future and PEPFAR programs.