No javascript detected! Our online shopping basket requires javascript. You can also complete your order by phone at 855.9HUNGER
You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience and security. You can also complete your order by phone at 855.9HUNGER
Return to World Ark Blog Landing

World Ark senior editor Austin Bailey and photographer Russ Powell are visiting Malawi this week to report on projects there.

In cities and villages, among old and young, the women of Malawi honor tradition by wearing the chitenje. This brightly colored swath of cotton comes in countless colors and patterns, but is worn in only two ways. Practically all women wrap them around their waists, with two magical tucks that keep them in place without buttons, zippers or snaps. Mothers in rural areas use a second chitenje to tie babies on their backs, freeing hands for hauling, cooking and other work.

In the capitol city of Lilongwe, professional women wear skirts and high-heeled shoes, but wrap zitenje over their suits when they leave the office. (Zitenje is the plural form for chitenje in the Chichewa language spoken in Central and Southern parts of the country.) Not only is the chitenje traditional, it's also considered by many to be the only moral way for women in Malawi to dress, explained Grace Phili, a field officer for Heifer who often wears a chitenje over jeans when she travels over bumpy dirt roads to project sites by motorbike. Although Malawi is becoming more modern in terms of gender issues, many still believe women who shirk the traditional dress also shirk their morals. "In the villages, if you wear pants, people say, 'She is a woman, but she wears the clothes of a man,'" Phili said.

Giving zitenje is considered very respectful and generous, and they're the common gift at rural weddings. Many women in Malawi complement zitenge with a matching head wrap called a mpango. On special occasions, women wear the chitenje with matching mpango and blouse all made from the same cloth. Malawi's new president, Joyce Banda, always wears a chitenge outfit with a matching wrap over her shoulder and mpango.

 

 

Watch Heifer Malawi field officer Grace Phili demonstrate wrapping the chitenje in the video below.

Author

Annie Bergman

Annie Bergman is a Global Communications Manager and helps plan, assign and develop content for the nonprofit’s website, magazine and blog. Bergman has interviewed survivors of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, beekeepers in Honduras, women’s groups in India and war widows in Kosovo, among many others in her six years at Heifer.

Free Download

You only need to enter this information once to download digital resources.

My Basket
Need Help?

Basket Summary

edit

{{ product.title }} {{ product.subTitle }}

Qty: {{ product.quantity }} @ {{ product.price | currency }} Qty: {{ product.quantity }} @ FREE
{{ (product.quantity * product.price) | currency }} Free
{{ (product.price) | currency }} You've chosen to make this a monthly donation.
Monthly

No products in cart.

Additional Impact {{ processingFee | currency }} Sub-total {{ cartSubTotal | currency }} Shipping Cost {{ orderShippingCost | currency }} NOT YET CALCULATED Tax Cost {{ orderTax | currency }} NOT YET CALCULATED Total {{ cartTotal | currency }}

{{ cartCheckoutPath[1].title }}

edit

Billing Address

{{ billingAddress.first_name }} {{ billingAddress.last_name }} {{ billingAddress.address_1 }} {{ billingAddress.address_2 }} {{ billingAddress.city }}, {{ billingAddress.state }} {{ billingAddress.zip }} {{ billingAddress.country }}

Company

{{ billingAddress.company }}

Shipping Address

{{ shippingAddress.first_name }} {{ shippingAddress.last_name }} {{ shippingAddress.address_1 }} {{ shippingAddress.address_2 }} {{ shippingAddress.city }}, {{ shippingAddress.state }} {{ shippingAddress.zip }} {{ shippingAddress.country }}

Basket Summary

Step 1 of 2 Step 1 of 3 All major credit cards and Paypal accepted

Get your free Honor Cards after checkout.
Your basket has been updated.
The following item(s) are now sold-out or unavailable and have been removed from your cart:
-{{ product.title }} {{ product.subTitle}} ({{ product.quantity}})

{{ nag.title }}

{{ nag.description }}

{{ product.title }} {{ product.subTitle }} To: {{ product.giftCardRecipientName }} From: {{ product.giftCardSenderPrint }} Email: {{ product.giftCardRecipientEmail }} Delivery: {{ product.giftCardDeliveryDate }} Message: {{ product.giftCardMessage | truncate '200' }} Delivery: {{ product.additional_info['deliveryDate'] }} Message: {{ product.additional_info['personalMessage'] | truncate '200' }} 1 {{prods["title"]}}

{{ (product.quantity * product.price) | currency }}
You've reached the maximum number of products for this item.
You've reached the maximum number of products for this item.
${{ product.price }}
$ {{ product.price }} Free
Monthly
Remove
SubTotal {{ cartSubTotal | currency }}
It's not a hand out. It's a hand up.

For maximum impact, try adding a few items to your basket.

Browse The Gift Catalog
Secured Checkout

Increase Your Impact with a Donation Visit the Gift Catalog

Make an even bigger impact with a donation from our Gift Catalog

Responsibly-Sourced, Artisan-Friendly Gifts Shop the Marketplace

Shop the Marketplace for responsibly-sourced, artisan-friendly gifts
Secured Checkout
Secured Checkout
Edit Basket Summary

{{ cartCheckoutPath[1].title }}

Step 2 of 2 Step 2 of 3 All major credit cards and Paypal accepted

Get your free Honor Cards after checkout.
Shipping Information

If you have received a gift catalog in the mail please enter the highlighted code that begins with a "D" or a "P" in the source code box below. If you have not received a Heifer Gift Catalog please leave the source code blank.

Shipping Address
Secured Checkout
Secured Checkout
Edit Basket Summary

{{ cartCheckoutPath[1].title }}

Step 2 of 2 Step 2 of 3 All major credit cards and Paypal accepted

Get your free Honor Cards after checkout.
Billing Information
Enter your company name to see if your employer will match your gift.

If you have received a gift catalog in the mail please enter the highlighted code that begins with a "D" or a "P" in the source code box below. If you have not received a Heifer Gift Catalog please leave the source code blank.

Billing Address
Secured Checkout
Secured Checkout
Edit Basket Summary

{{ cartCheckoutPath[1].title }}

Step 2 of 2 Step 2 of 3 All major credit cards and Paypal accepted

Get your free Honor Cards after checkout.
Billing Information
Enter your company name to see if your employer will match your gift.

If you have received a gift catalog in the mail please enter the highlighted code that begins with a "D" or a "P" in the source code box below. If you have not received a Heifer Gift Catalog please leave the source code blank.

Billing Address
Shipping Information

If you have received a gift catalog in the mail please enter the highlighted code that begins with a "D" or a "P" in the source code box below. If you have not received a Heifer Gift Catalog please leave the source code blank.

Shipping Address
Secured Checkout
Secured Checkout
Edit Basket Summary Edit {{ cartCheckoutPath[1].title }}

Payment Information

Step 3 of 3 All major credit cards and Paypal accepted

Get your free Honor Cards after checkout.

Payment Summary

Additional Impact {{ processingFee | currency }} Sub-total {{ cartSubTotal | currency }} Shipping Cost {{ orderShippingCost | currency }} NOT YET CALCULATED Tax Cost {{ orderTax | currency }} NOT YET CALCULATED Total {{ cartTotal | currency }}

Pay By Credit Card
Pay with PayPal logo
Pay with
We were not able to process your request. Please try again or contact Donor Services at 855.9HUNGER (855.948.6437).
Secured Checkout