“We have realized many benefits” – The Lutheran malaria program in Zimbabwe

Posted on November 24, 2014 by Ashley Debilzen
Allison Beebe

​The Lutheran malaria program in Zimbabwe supports comprehensive malaria programming based on prevention, education, treatment and sustainable livelihoods. Overall health and wellness are promoted throughout these pillars of programming. One initiative of the Lutheran malaria program supports the formation of groups with a focus on Internal Savings and Lending Skills (ISALS).  There are over 300 ISALS groups in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe, and they are making a lasting impact. Participation in these groups contributes to better nutrition and improved access to education.

Members of ISALS groups undergo training in a variety of courses relating to financial literacy and wellness. They take part in five training modules which include individual self-screening, writing a constitution, best practices for effective group leadership, fund development in order to increase profits, and record-keeping.​

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Photo: An ISALS group member (right) shares her story alongside Malaria Field Officer Kelton Ncube (left). 

Each member of an ISALS group contributes a certain amount of money per month into a shared fund. Income is generated by small business ventures like farming projects or the sale of hand-made goods. These small businesses are kick-started by loans from the Lutheran malaria program. The collected savings of ISALS members can be loaned to group members with an interest rate of 10%. The borrower pays back the loan according to an agreed-upon time schedule. Loans have been used to buy seeds to plant or to purchase additional livestock.

One ISALS group in Burure, Zimbabwe is generating income through small farming projects. There are 24 women who are a part of this particular group. The women raise chickens and goats, and also are doing some planting and farming. They started out with a loan from the Lutheran malaria program, but are now self-sustaining because they continue to realize profits.

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Photo: The ISALS group in Burure, Zimbabwe

The ISALS are providing a positive impact for the women who participate. One woman said, “The ISALS group has helped us to pay school fees and expenses when [my children] are sick. We have realized many benefits. We don’t experience hunger like we used to.”

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Photo: These women are ISALS group members, and can use their earnings to keep their families safe from malaria. 

The ISALS groups are a direct initiative of the Lutheran malaria program in Zimbabwe, and ISALS group members are closely connected to malaria resources. One group member said, “One of my children contracted malaria. A local malaria volunteer helped my child to get treatment.” Increased income, self-sustaining businesses, and improved access to malaria care are just three of the reasons how ISALS are making a positive impact in Zimbabwe.

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