Tongozala Village, situated in the rural area under the jurisdiction of Traditional Authority (T/A) Mkanda in Mchinji district, has undergone a remarkable transformation into a beacon of quality education and healthcare services, thanks to the tireless efforts of Our Aim Foundation.
Through financial support from individual donors, organizational partnerships, and local initiatives, the foundation has achieved a range of significant milestones.
These include the construction of an Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centre, the installation and renovation of over 500 boreholes, and the establishment of a clinic to serve the health needs of both children and their parents. The ECD and clinic services are provided to the community for free.
During our visit to the area on September 15, we observed numerous children joyfully engaged in learning at the ECD Centre, where they also receive nutritious meals to combat malnutrition.
Just a short distance away, a multitude of men and women were receiving essential medical care at the clinic, providing vital services to the people of Tongozala and its neighbouring villages.
Collins Kambanizithe, Project Manager for Our Aim Foundation, explained: “The clinic offers free healthcare services to about 180 people on a daily basis. Previously, these individuals had to travel great distances to access healthcare at Mkanda Health Centre, but this problem is now a thing of the past.”
The clinic has even drawn patients from as far as Chipata district in Zambia due to its reputation as one of the most reliable facilities in Mchinji, as the District Health Office consistently supplies it with essential drugs.
Within the same compound, girls and young women who had to drop out of school for various reasons are now receiving vocational and technical training in tailoring and computer skills.
Currently, 40 women are enrolled in the tailoring programme, and it is expected that upon completion, they will be well-equipped to secure employment or establish their own businesses, thereby improving their livelihoods.
All of these transformative initiatives began with a visit by Nisha Mandani, an Indian tourist, to the village in 2015.
Mandani, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Our Aim Foundation, is a dedicated philanthropic leader, entrepreneur, and educator who has made it her mission to serve the less fortunate, particularly those living in multi-generational poverty in remote communities.
Armed with a master’s degree in Special Education from Adelphi University, Long Island, NY, Mandani has spent over a decade as an educator with the New York City Board of Education.
She has been recognized with the Global Water Award in 2022 from the International Water Association for her tireless efforts in addressing water scarcity in impoverished communities.
She has also received the “Golden Choice Award” for her work in supporting the elderly, and she is a two-time recipient of Lifetime Achievement Awards from the President of the United States, in addition to the Point of Light Award from the White House and the “Businesswoman of the Year” award from the Indo-US Chamber of Commerce.
In an emailed interview this month, Mandani explained that her passion for humanitarian work and her commitment to serving others inspired her to establish Our AIM Foundation in 2008. She firmly believes that if one is blessed, it is their duty to be a blessing to others.
“Today, the foundation has impacted over five million ultra-poor communities suffering from multigenerational poverty,” Mandani stated.
In the countries where her foundation operates, Mandani has played a pivotal role in attracting donors and well-wishers to invest in educational programs, healthcare, women and youth empowerment, clean water and sanitation projects, hunger prevention, and raising awareness about these essential life necessities.
Her journey in Malawi began a decade ago when she witnessed a three-year-old child drinking from a contaminated puddle because his mother had malaria and couldn’t travel the eight kilometers to fetch clean water.
“The focus on Tongozala Village was brought to my attention by the community itself, which later donated land for the current Holistic Community Center. The village’s dire circumstances deeply moved me. The lack of access to basic necessities such as clean water, hygiene products, education, and healthcare was glaring,” she recalled.
Mandani’s motivation to invest in Tongozala Village’s health and education sectors stemmed from a genuine desire to make a tangible impact where it was most needed. She firmly believed that empowering women, providing education, and improving healthcare are crucial steps toward lifting communities out of poverty. This perspective has driven her foundation’s dedicated efforts in the village.
Looking ahead, Mandani revealed that her foundation has plans to construct a fully equipped health center to provide comprehensive medical care and outreach programs.
They also aim to expand educational initiatives by building additional classrooms, providing learning materials, and further training local teachers.
On the subject of women’s empowerment, the philanthropist affirmed her commitment to supporting women through vocational training programs, women’s health services, and counselling for survivors of assaults and abuse.
She also envisions promoting initiatives that can help achieve economic self-sufficiency, such as microfinance programs and vocational training. The ultimate goal is to create a self-sustaining model for development that can inspire positive change in neighbouring communities.
Mandani summed up by saying, “Our Aim Foundation is deeply committed to transforming lives and communities worldwide. We are proud of our accomplishments, including the impact we’ve made in Tongozala Village and beyond.
“Our foundation’s reach spans seven countries, with a focus on healthcare, education, women’s empowerment, and poverty alleviation. We remain dedicated to our mission of bringing hope and empowerment to those in need, and we are continually expanding our reach to help more individuals and communities around the world.”
In response, Senior Group Village Head (SGVH) Tongozala expressed his gratitude to Mandani for her unwavering support, emphasizing that the area would have remained in dire straits without her intervention.
He pledged that the local community would contribute their locally available resources towards any development projects the foundation chooses to undertake in the area.