Filling Healthcare Gaps in Malawi

African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC)

Sr. Magdalena used her interpersonal relation skills to acquire much needed items for Alinafe Community Hospital in Malawi. She was promoted to her position as Administrator of the hospital after completing ASEC's SLDI program in 2018.

Sr. Magdalena uses her newfound skills to streamline hospital operations and improve patient care.

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Due to a lack of qualified workers, about 1/3 of healthcare positions in Malawi are vacant. A growing population and a lack of adequate family planning services also threaten any progress the country has made in reducing child and maternal deaths and HIV infection over the past twenty years. The incidence of malaria and HIV infections are still high, as is the 37% chronic malnutrition rate of children in the country.

But Sr. Magdalena Ndawla, a Teresian Sister, is using her newfound skills to face these challenges head on.

Sr. Magdalena serves as Administrator of the Alinafe Community Hospital in Central Malawi, a promotion she received after graduating from ASEC's Sisters Leadership Development Initiative (SLDI) program in 2018. Now, she's using the collaboration, leadership and grant-writing skills she learned in SLDI to meet the ongoing needs of hospital staff and patients.

Sr. Magdalena works to improve the administrative operations of the hospital, including the development of a strategic plan, an organogram, more effective financial procedures, audits and proper employee supervision.

She also strives to meet the ongoing needs of the hospital and its patients, and has successfully collaborated with key players in her area to secure more than $11,000 in funding for medications and a maize mill. The maize mill is anticipated to increase the hospital’s sustainability, as it generates income for the hospital and future purchases of medications. 

Additionally, the hospital runs a nutrition and feeding program, helping to address food insecurity and malnutrition in the region. 

Sr. Magdalena’s skills and belief in herself help her succeed in her role. Although she still faces many potential challenges working in the healthcare sector, completing SLDI has given her the tools she needs to overcome them. She commented,

“I am confident that I can do something and I am ready to take risks even in the most difficult situations.” -Sr. Magdalena

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Below is a summary of Sr. Magdalena’s achievements after completing SLDI in 2018. All information and quotes are from ASEC's 2019 Alumnae Survey & ASEC Funded Project Reporting Form.


“Sisters from other congregations have assisted me [in] how they go about in empowering women.  I have close link with the district health officer who send [sic] people to assess my facility. I wrote a proposal...for an ambulance.  The bishop recommended the proposal I wrote for drugs. The bishop has helped me with a recommendation letter to the donors. These partners have helped me because I needed their input e.g. how to make an organogram for the facility. The board members have identified an audit firm to audit the facility.  They helped me with drugs and assessment of the facility. I wrote proposals to them and have given me support to have uniforms for the workers.”

“I have met many sisters through whom I have learnt a lot of skills like how to interact with them.”

Using Skills to Benefit & Improve her Ministry

“I have implemented a few things which I learnt during SLDI such as: holding meetings, financial control systems, improved communication, how to solve conflicts among the employees.”

“The strategic plan is in the process of formulation. The accountant is now responsible for financial transactions which were done by the former administrator, all cash realized is being banked than before.  I have started delegating the responsibilities to other workers. I visited some women who do local banking among themselves.”

“All the skills gained will help my congregation.”

Leadership Position in Ministry

“I was co-facilitating the chapter resolutions in my congregation.  I have been promoted to an administrator of the hospital. I do supervision of the departments. I am responsible for all the employees of the hospital and I go around two times a week to see how they are doing their work and help them to keep the place conducive for health.”

“I have facilitated to the whole congregation to about 150 sisters within a month.  The leadership skills I learnt [helped me succeed].”


Mentored 61 people: 15 individually, 43 in groups, 3 in groups


“I am able to outline the demands of the donor in the proposal. I have managed to get funds after writing proposals to different donors. I asked a sister in my congregation who always succeeds after she has written proposals.  The bishop and superior general assisted in writing recommendation letters. We have a place where we do irrigation farming and I have asked for solar power to have produce throughout the year. We use locally found resources. [I use] improved skills and methods used which are not complicated.”

She secured grant funding for the purchase of medicine and maize mill for the Alinafe Community Hospital.

“The hospital had no medicine to meet the needs of the patients. Now we have purchased enough drugs. Two maize mills have been bought to first be an IGA (income generating activity) for the hospital to buy more medicine. It has also shortened the distance women walk to access the maize mills. Also wish to improve the dispensing area of medicine at the pharmacy in the future.”

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This article is addressing the following UN Sustainable Development Goal(s):

End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all Sustainable Cities and Communities
Sr. Magdalena Ndawla, TS

Sr. Magdalena Ndawla, TS (RIP)
Profiled in article
SLDI Alumna - Malawi  

Jennifer Mudge, MSW, LSW

Jennifer Mudge, MSW, LSW
Former ASEC Senior Program Manager, Monitoring & Evaluation - USA  

Amy Fedele

Amy Fedele
Former ASEC Media & Communications Manager - USA  

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