March 2022 I Celebrate Women's History Month With Us!

GAIA celebrates all of the amazing and hardworking Malawian women that have worked to expand access to healthcare in southern rural malawi.


Published On:

June 13, 2022

Happy Women's History Month! To celebrate, we will be spotlighting many of the amazing Malawian women that have made GAIA what it is today throughout our 20+ year history. Tune in every Monday, Wednesday and Friday this month to get to know the women behind GAIA's success!

Joyce is not only a registered Nurse/Midwife with more than 20 years of clinical and public health program experience focusing on HIV/AIDS, reproductive health issues and childhood disabilities, but she is the captain of the GAIA ship. Her unwavering commitment to our amazing Malawi staff and rural clients inspires us all, and is one of the reasons that GAIA has become a dependable and reliable force in Southern, rural Malawi, with even more growth and impact on the horizon.

Annie has served a critical role on the GAIA team for 18 years! As a District Case Management Officer, she works with orphans and vulnerable children living with or at high risk of contracting HIV, and links them to treatment and psychosocial support. Annie characterizes her work as bringing hope to those in the community. Annie represents the very best of GAIA’s work!

Deborah has been a passionate GAIA team member for almost 13 years, working to ensure easy access to HIV testing, treatment, and follow-up for compliance to treatment in the community. She also uses her close bonds with community members to increase men’s HIV testing. Deborah believes that women will be at the forefront of Malawi’s development, and play vital roles in their communities by raising the next generation of future leaders.

Dr. Chirwa earned her PhD in Nursing from the University of Illinois-Chicago in 2007, and has served as Chair of the GAIA Malawi Board of Directors since 2018. As a leader in nursing education and curriculum development, her research interests have focused on maternal and child health. She brings a depth of organizational experience to GAIA’s board and provides wise, effective leadership as board chair.

Many of you may know Edna as the star of our 2017 film “The Far End of the Road''. She has been a GAIA team member for more than fourteen years, starting out as an HIV Coordinator and later, in 2014, becoming a Community Outreach Nurse doing everything from conducting community health talks to linking people living with HIV to treatment and follow up support.

In the short time that Chifundo Chomanika has been on the Malawi team, her role has proved to be critical to GAIA’s success. Her work involves technical support for all GAIA projects (which, as many of you know, is a lot!) to ensure they’re implemented according to strategic plans. Chifundo believes that women will play a crucial role in advancing Malawi as a country, and we agree!

Dr. Phillipo is a lawyer working with the government of Malawi. She earned her PhD in Transnational Criminal Justice and Crime Prevention from the University of the Western Cape in South Africa. Her extensive experience as a State Advocate in the Malawi Ministry of Justice has focused on anti-money laundering and asset recovery. She brings her legal expertise and keen analytical skills to the GAIA Malawi Board as a trustee.

Many of you may already be familiar with Lucy, as she visited us in the U.S. in 2021 to receive the Excellence in Global HIV Nursing Award from the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care (ANAC). Along with this well-deserved accolade and her extensive experience in public health issues relating to maternal and adolescent care, Lucy heads our USAID-funded Ana Patsogolo (“Children First”) Activity (APA), which has enrolled 93% of children living with HIV in our service areas into the APA program (~9,000 children) and about 8,000 children with parents living with HIV. Coordinating activities among the 21 employees working on this project and hundreds of community volunteers, the scope of Lucy’s work is expansive, and she never fails to bring her passion and extensive knowledge to her position.

Bernadetta is a committed and passionate GAIA team member with an extensive set of roles within the organization. As a Senior HIV/AIDS Coordinator, Bernadetta organizes and implements GAIA village activities in 20 villages across Southern Malawi, including supervising community care givers, assisting in facilitating community trainings, and networking with other health facilities in the impact areas. We are grateful for your hard work, Bernadetta! 

Adalireni has run a tight ship as GAIA Malawi’s Finance and Administration Manager since 2010, earning GAIA a reputation as an organization of the highest integrity. Her open door policy allows robust operational synergies and swift response to the fast paced environment where GAIA operates. Her behind-the-scenes work enables all of GAIA’s program successes!

Adalireni has run a tight ship as GAIA Malawi’s Finance and Administration Manager since 2010, earning GAIA a reputation as an organization of the highest integrity. Her open door policy allows robust operational synergies and swift response to the fast paced environment where GAIA operates. Her behind-the-scenes work enables all of GAIA’s program successes!

Luseshelo, a GAIA Nursing Scholar Graduate, currently serves as a Nurse Midwife Mentor with UCSF’s Global Action in Nursing (GAIN) project where she trains and mentors nurse midwives on safe birthing practices and how to manage complications during childbirth. Luseshelo feels great pride in being a woman, nurse and mother and feels that being a nurse has given her a voice to advocate for the health and wellbeing of her clients.

Kaboni Gondwe, GAIA’s first Nursing Scholar and a current member of the U.S. Board of Trustees, began her nursing education at Kamuzu College of Nursing and now serves as an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. As our first Nursing Scholar, Kaboni set the bar sky high – and became the first of 510 graduates who all serve their local and global communities with passion and resilience.

If you want to learn more about Kaboni, check out our newest Global Nurses’ Corner where she and fellow GAIA trustee Melanie Norris discuss the global nursing shortage with GAIA’s Country Director Joyce Jere here!

Professor Address Malata is the Vice Chancellor of the Malawi University of Science and Technology, the first woman to lead a Malawian university. Previously, Prof. Malata was the Principal at Kamuzu College of Nursing (now called Kamuzu University of Health Sciences), where she was an invaluable partner and advisor to GAIA’s Nursing Scholar Program. A midwife herself, and dedicated to improving women’s health, her research has focused on sexual and reproductive health, HIV/AIDS and workforce issues. Prof. Malata believes that nurses are the heartbeat of any healthcare system, a belief that remains at the center of our work.

We hope that our posts this month have made one thing clear: GAIA wouldn’t be what it is today without all the amazing women that lead, operate, and inspire us. The GAIA team sends a resounding thank you to every woman -- not just the few we've been able to profile here -- who makes our work in Malawi possible. Their time, grit, brains, courage, and wisdom uplift us all. Zikomo kwambiri!

women carrying water pales