Weaving a Malawi Sunrise
I just received a beautiful email from Memory. It made my heart sing to know that I had made the person whose opinion I care about most happy. I had sent Memory the proof copy of Weaving A Malawi Sunrise. This is — in part — what she wrote:
“I feel like writing is not enough to say how happy I am with the book. I just wish you were here that I could hug you. You will make my life story to live for a long time since I have never sat down to write all the details. By today I was already starting to forget some facts. Oh, the reading has been so nice, full of memories and giggles.”
If you haven’t been following the story of my book, Weaving a Malawi Sunrise, you may not realize the significance of these words. Here is the story behind the book:
Memory Chazeza is a remarkable woman and I was drawn to her story from the first time I heard it. From the start, her life was one of hardship and struggle.
Both of Memory’s parents died when she was young, and later her uncle, who took her in, also died. Although it seemed impossible, she dreamed of attending post secondary school. She held on to this dream through threats and censure. In 2006, Memory graduated from university with a degree in education. She is now the Director of APU Secondary School for Girls in Malawi where she is putting her considerable talents and passion into improving the lives of hundreds of other young girls who are suffering the same hardships that she was able to overcome. Memory has accomplished much in her lifetime. During the 2005 famine in Malawi, Memory undertook the daunting task of launching her own Famine Relief Effort in her home region of Kasungu. She and her husband Henry Mdyetseni, risked their lives to purchase, transport and distribute hundreds of bags of maize to thousands of the poorest villagers in Chamama, near Kasungu.
Through her work with girls and education, as well as through her Famine Relief Effort, Memory has become a respected role model in her community. She has single-handedly changed the views of the male leaders in her community. They are now encouraging their daughters to continue their schooling. Not only are they willingly accepting leadership from a woman, they are actively seeking Memory’s advice. With the founding of Atsikana Pa Ulendo, Memory is now able to bring education to many of Malawi’s least fortunate. Because of Memory, hundreds of little girls now believe they have a future – a future that includes education, health, independence and empowerment.
Weaving a Malawi Sunrise recounts Memory’s story as well as the common story of many Malawian women. When I set out to tell this story, I hoped I would be able to bring this almost incomprehensible reality alive for North Americans. I hope I have accomplished my goal. Weaving a Malawi Sunrise will be released this fall by the University of Alberta Press.