Second born in a family of eight, Madalo Samati faced the plight of life after her father abandoned them when she was 13 and in secondary school.
She recalls wearing the same dress to school every Wednesday as she had no better dress.
“In those days, students were not wearing uniforms on Wednesdays so that they could wash it to be worn on Thursday and Friday,” says Samati.
Despite her father leaving the house, she says her mother worked hard to provide for them and there was never a day they went to bed without food.
“It was always nsima with pigeon peas or boiled vegetables, but it filled out stomachs,” she recollects.
She also remembers her mother giving up one of her dresses to Samati so she could wear to church on Sundays when she went to boarding at St. Mary’s Secondary School.
“It was my wish to make it in life. My selection to Chancellor College in 1993 marked the turning point in my life,” says Samati.
At the close of her first year in college, she was recruited as an action researcher for a United States Aid (Usaid) funded Girls Attainment in Basic Literacy and Education (Gable) Social Mobilisation Campaign Project.
“As an action researcher, moving to every corner of Malawi for six years, I was shocked at the predicament of girls and the strengths inside of them when motivated. My passion for girls grew and shaped my career and destiny,” says the present executive director for the Creative Centre for Community Mobilisation (Creccom).
Samati played a huge role in the enlisting of Creccom in the Secretary Hillary Clinton’s “mega-commitment” of more than 50 global actors in girls’ education field named Girls CHARGE! (Collaborative Harnessing Ambition and Resources for Global Education).
She is also adviser to Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) on girls’ education.
In addition, she forms part of a global team contributing to the design of a network of global leaders in girls’ education.
Samati is also secretary to a national Adolescent Girls Learning Task Force (2014 – 2016), providing technical support to set a vision and promoting adolescent girls’ learning in Malawi.
She also forms part of a global team contributing to designing a network of global leaders in girls’ education.
Holder of a Master of Arts in sustainable international development from Brandeis University, USA, Samati was among the six founders of Creccom.
A month into her 41st year, she has been appointed the organisation’s executive director which she brands as a miracle in her family.
“Getting to a topmost position for a vibrant Malawian non-governmental organisation (NGO) such as Creccom is no mean achievement. I am grateful to God for His favour resting on me. In a space of seven years, I moved through the ladder from an action researcher to a manager, then, to a community mobilisation specialist to assistant executive director for operations.
“As director of programmes, I have contributed to project proposal writing that has seen change of life trajectories of thousands of vulnerable girls, boys and women in Malawi. That is why I love my job because it fulfills my calling — the purpose why I live,” says Samati who has no doubt that God began preparing her into her calling from a very young age.
When the father abandoned them and then later passed on, Samati says she fathered her siblings – got them into school and acted as their role model.
“I am glad I set the pace for my family — with God all things are possible! Most of them are now in good jobs,” she says.
The Creccom head has written a number of papers, including At the interface of Policy and Cultural Change: Engaging Communities in Support for Girls Education in Malawi, written in 2013.
Says Samati: “In 2014, I spoke at a panel with USA first lady Michelle Obama who gave a key note address on community led solutions to girls’ education. Currently, the global discourse is around community-led solutions, including how culture is a powerful force (both positive and negative) in educating girls.
“The paper has also shaped further our project proposals in Creccom. Right now we have been awarded $1 million (about K693 million) to implement a girls’ education project in Thyolo. Engaging Communities and Schools in Support for Adolescent Girls Education in Malawi Project is targeting over 18 000 girls in upper primary and secondary schools.”
She has also been exposed in the SADC region, working on short time basis in Mozambique and Zambia where she spearheaded projects on girls’ education and child labour elimination.
She proudly associates with such Creccom accolades as the Nation’s Achiever of the year 2006 for its contribution to education as well as MoEST’s “most innovative NGO in girls’ education programming in Malawi” in 2014.
Having surrendered her life to the Lord in 2002, she names becoming a pastor in 2006 and general secretary of Holy Ghost and Evangelism Ministries (Hogem) as her ultimate spiritual and eternal achievements.
From experience, she notes that success requires going an extra mile; that women need to work very hard to make it to male dominated decision making positions.
She further notes that society expects too much from people, which requires patience and long-suffering and advises that this has to be developed.
Samati attributes her success to Jesus Christ saying: “He has taught me to believe that the best is for me and to still believe for more; to persevere and wait upon the Lord always; to trust that everything is under His control and that my time doesn’t matter; and that He loves and trust me to manifest His kingdom, power and glory.” n