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The Improving Maternal And New-Born Health project relies on people like Esnart Mwenendeka.

As the local savings and loans agent, she helps women - including Flora - to access money for essentials for their newborn child: food, clothing, baby baths and blankets.

Because Esnart works closely with the nearest clinic, and because she’s trusted by the community, she can advise women about the clinic’s services.

Esnart Mwenendeka with her children

Since being chosen to start the village savings and loan association (VSLA), Esnart has helped set up other VSLAs. She insists that a woman should be able to provide for herself and her baby. “VSLA helps them… If the husband does not support her financially, she should be able to purchase the items on her own.”

saved by the women’s VSLA in Mwenitete

Esnart’s VSLA also invests in community projects: the plan is to construct rental properties in the town, which will provide for women who cannot earn an income.

The VSLAs are part of a project started by Christian Aid and our partner FOCUS in 2015. It takes a holistic approach to maternal issues: improving access to services, supporting and advising women, and educating men.

In our area, men wanted women to bear children every year... They did not see the benefits of attending antenatal clinics with their pregnant wives - they did not know what really goes on when a woman is in labour. After the training and awareness campaign, that changed.

- Esnart Mwenendeka.

Esnart is a single parent – her husband died in 2017. She has four children, three of them in primary school. Although the VSLA project has officially ended, she is continuing the VSLA group.

Maternal mortality data from World Health Organisation figures.

To view all of the data go to Explore our data

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Read more about our maternal and neonatal health programme in Malawi.