Economic Empowerment

The main goal for the Freedom from Fistula Foundation (FFF) is to see an end to fistula, however, surgical healing is just the first step in recovery. Economic empowerment is the ultimate path to a renewed life and brighter future for our patients. Time and again, the villages that once cast out the fistula patient, benefit and prosper thanks to her new skills and income generation.

Our fistula clinics have post-surgical rehabilitation programmes which are a vital part of our patients recovery and help prepare them for reintegration back into society.  

In PREP, (Patient Rehabilitation, Education and Empowerment Programme), patients are taught life skills that offer the women and girls opportunities for their futures:

  • classes in literacy and numeracy, tailored to the level of education a patient may or may not have had
  • handicrafts, including sewing, weaving and beading, with a view to making items which the patients can sell
  • cooking classes to demonstrate how to cook healthy food on a low budget
  • micro-finance support and enterprise training, including opening a bank account, household budgets and simple business accounts
  • income generation, including solar-powered charging stations, tailoring, goat rearing, vegetable gardening, baking and reusable sanitary pads

Reusable Sanitary Pads

As part of our mission to help patients reintegrate back into society after their surgeries and provide income-generating opportunities for them, they participate in the production of reusable sanitary pads in Malawi. The women are provided with a sewing machine and materials to begin production and taught how to sew. The reusable sanitary pads are provided free to all our patients, as well as to school girls in partner schools.  We also sell packs at an affordable price at markets, fairs, schools and hospitals, with all profits going back into the project. 


For those patients taking part in the Reusable Sanitary Pad project, the opportunity is available for them to learn basic tailoring skills with tutors attending the centres during our Patient Rehabilitation and Education Programme classes. Patients return home able to make clothes for themselves, their family and their community. Once she returned home, fistula patient Linesi learnt how to make school uniforms, having been taught by a friend from church. She is hoping to start her own uniform business and add to her income already generated from making and selling reusable sanitary pads.

In 2022 we organised an 8 day sewing machine workshop to teach 18 former fistula patients who are struggling to support themselves financially. Patients are based in Blantyre, Balaka, Salima, Mangochi, Zomba, Ntcheu, Phalombe, Kasungu, Mulanje, Thyolo, Mkhotakota and Lilongwe.

Solar Powered Charging Stations

Malawi has over 15million without access to electricity. 75% live on or below the poverty line of $1.25 per household a month. The solar powered lighting stations enable our healed women and girls to return home with affordable, clean, sustainable energy and a means to earn money through entrepreneurial ventures. Many use them to charge mobile phones and hair clippers, setting up barbers shops to increase their income.

In November 2022 our Fistula Care Centre in Malawi trained 7 fistula patients in Dedza under the KOICA and UNFPA Malawi programme.

“By lighting their homes and providing an income stream, the solar kits are helping to empower women who were previously outcast and isolated - now they are the centre of their villages and families." Dame Ann Gloag

Solar Jet-Flame Kits

C-QUEST CAPITAL, in partnership with our Fistula Care Centre in Malawi started distributing Solar Jet-Flame stoves to our former fistula patients. Training is given 2 days a week, where patients are taught to build and operate the Jet-Flame stove. Jet-Flame kits are a combustion accessory that clears up emissions in wood burning cook stoves. The Jet-Flame was designed by the Gates funded Global Health Laboratories and is the first low cost insert that can be used in almost all homemade cook stoves while cleanly burning many types of readily available fuels.

AWC Skills Training Centre

Aminata Maternal Foundation supports our Skills Development Training programme. 60 teen girls each year  learn skills that will help them to gain employment or set up their own businesses including, tailoring, hairdressing, cooking and housekeeping.

Animal Husbandry

Thanks to the generosity of supporters, our Fistula Care Centre in Malawi is piloting a goat rearing project to support former patients. In 2022 we identified 4 former fistula patients living in the Salima district and provided them with micro finance training, information on animal husbandry and three vaccinated kid goats (two female and one male) with a view to them raising and breeding domestic goats.

Malawi is known as the warm heart of Africa due to its friendly and kind hearted people. A tea room is a local restaurant where tea and buns are sold any time of the day, usually from as early as 5am to 8pm. Tea rooms are common in the central region of Malawi and everything is sold at an affordable price.

Tea Room

Thanks to the generosity of supporters, our Fistula Care Centre in Malawi is piloting a Tea Room business as another income generating activity to support former fistula patients. In 2022 we identified 5 former fistula patients living in Mitundu, Lilongwe district and provided them with micro finance training, training in scone and tea making, customer care and team room management, to equip them with the basic knowledge required to establish and run a successful tea room.

Vegetable Garden

Vegetable farming is the growing of vegetable crops, primarily for use as human food. Vegetable farming is known to be a profitable business in Malawi.

Thanks to the generosity of supporters, our Fistula Care Centre in Malawi is piloting a Vegetable Gardening initiative as another income generating activity to support former fistula patients. The idea is for every participant to be given all the necessary materials to start their vegetable gardening. This project is running in Lilongwe district and 7 participants have been selected to participate.

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We provide a number of micro enterprise opportunities.

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If you would like to make a donation to help us provide economic empowerment training and opportunities every £ helps.