FOCHTA is a local non-governmental organisation (NGO) that works in the Thyolo District of Malawi in East Africa. We promote education and provide social support for children orphaned by HIV/AIDS and for other vulnerable groups, helping them build a future for themselves and their community. FOCHTA is not affiliated to any religious group.

Our primary focus is on education and training for vulnerable children and young adults. We do this by providing school bursaries (scholarships) for students and creating opportunities for young people to learn technical and vocational skills. We believe that educating young people today is tomorrow’s hope for the future.

Many factors impact a child’s success at school, however, and our programs and services are designed to help address the challenges our students face, from poverty and hunger to trauma and social isolation. We aim to improve the quality of life of our students and the community’s most vulnerable, allowing them to focus on their studies and on the future, rather than on the hardships of today.

FOCHTA is a registered NGO in Malawi and a member of CONGOMA, an NGO network in Malawi that helps coordinate the work of members and minimize duplication. 

Our Vision  

Our vision is for a world where all young people, regardless of race and religion will have the opportunity to become healthy, well educated citizens who contribute to the wellbeing of their communities 

Our Mission

FOCHTA provides educational, physical, psychological and social support for orphans and other vulnerable children who have been directly affected by HIV/AIDS

Our Values

Recognition of every person’s right to human dignity, regardless of race or religion, as guaranteed in the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi;

Working collaboratively and cooperatively with civil society, government, the private sector and other partners to achieve our mission and our objectives;

A belief that education for all provides the surest pathway to the alleviation of poverty and;

Accountability to all of our key stakeholders

Our Objectives

Provide material support for young people throughout their secondary and tertiary education, including vocational education;

Provide social support and moral guidance to young people to enable them to make healthy choices in their lives;

Strengthen resilience and provide young people with the life skills that will enable them to meet the challenges in their lives;

Advocate for improving social services for those living with HIV/ AIDS as well as to orphans and other vulnerable children;

Provide material and social support to grandparents who care for their grandchildren. These grandchildren are FOCHTA student beneficiaries and;

To demonstrate transparency and use best practice in the achievement of our objectives and the measurement of our social impact.

Education and training

Since its founding, FOCHTA’s mission has been to support secondary school education for children in families devastated by HIV/AIDS. Primary education in Malawi is free, but many children do not attend high school because they cannot afford the fees of AUD $350 per year. Students who have lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS are particularly prone to dropping out as they must often work to support the family or care for younger siblings.

FOCHTA’s programs aim to assist vulnerable students and their families, supporting their education and giving them a chance to build a better future for themselves and their communities. We are active in fostering opportunities for girls and young women, whose education plays a particularly crucial role in improving outcomes in health, nutrition, education and prosperity for families and communities.

To date, FOCHTA has funded secondary schooling for 2311 children across Thyolo District, with 58 enrolled in 2021. Out of those, 17 have graduated, with one having obtained a master degree. They are are working in their fields as teachers, social worker, midwife, clinical officer, physiotherapy, agriculturist, irrigation engineer, agronomist, land economist, scientist.

We have now 8 undergraduates, including one doing obstetrics, medicine, biomedical engineering, nutritional science, agribusiness, theology and commerce degree. In addition, we have over 90 students who have done a diploma or certificate in tertiary colleges. We can now find our alumni working in the community as primary school teachers, animal health manager, nurse, accountant, car mechanic, journalist, community development officers, policeman, general fitters, electricians, welders, tailors, computer technicians and administrators.

Honorary Board Members 

Dr. Kanjunjunju is a Director of Public Health at Blantyre City Council.

Ms. Victoria Wane, Director of Chikwawa District Assembly. She was formerly a valued FOCHTA board member until she moved out of the Thyolo District.

Mr. Funani Malata was already an experienced clinical officer working in a large district hospital’s obstetrics department before deciding to study B Sc - Obstetrics & Gynaecology at the College of Medicine, now in his final year. He has been a de facto medical advisor to FOCHTA.

The FOCHTA Board of Trustees

President: Mr Steven Labana. Mr Labana has been working for MSF for 24 years, serving in many leadership roles, from Technical Activity Manager to currently, Health Promotion & Surveillance Officer. Mr Labana is one of the three co-founders of FOCHTA with the other two being Dr Leopold Buhendwa and Mr. Claude Ho.

Patron: Mr Claude Ho. Mr Ho is an absent member with his home being in Australia. But he is actively involved in the day to day affairs of FOCHTA.

Technical Officer & co-founder: Dr. Leopold Buhendwa is an absent member as he is working in Niger. Dr Leopold had worked with MSF Belgium in Malawi for 18 years. He has since become the country director of GOAL Niger in that country.

Chairman: Mr. Keith Mwithiwa has obtained a degree of B Sc - Nursing & Midwifery. Currently he is studying in his final year for a master degree, M Sc - Management. Mr Mwithiwa is working at Malawi AIDS Counseling & Resource Organization “MACRO” as a Project Manager. He is married with one child.

Vice Chairman: Mr. Charles Sokoso. He has a diploma in Animal Health Production, and is working in Villages in Partnerships Inc., an NGO headquartered in the USA, as its Livestock Officer. He is married with three children.

Mrs Hilda Mtiya is the Grassroots Committee Chairperson. She has been with FOCHTA since its inception in 2003 with years of experience in grassroots community matters.

Mr. Nenani James has a diploma in community development. He is now in his final year studying for B Sc - Community Development. Mr James has worked for a number of years at Save The Children as its interactive radio instructions officer. He is married with two children.

Ms. Brenda Jeremia also has a degree of B Sc - Nursing & Midwifery. She is working in a senior position at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s obstetrics department. This hospital is the leading one in Blantyre, the second largest city in Malawi. She is married with two children.

Mr. Austin Kambalame has a degree in B Sc - Irrigation Engineering. He is a senior irrigation agronomist at the Malawian Government’s Mulanje District Irrigation Office. Austin is married with one young child.

Ms. Treaser Thomas obtained B Sc and works at the Blantyre Health Research & Training Trust as a research assistant & data manager. Ms. Thomas is married with one child.

Mr. Amadu Bwanali obtained B. Social Science and is working at CAMFED International as its District Operation Officer. He is married with two children.

Mr. Siyani George, a secondary school teacher, has a degree of B Sc - Agriculture.

Note: All the board members of FOCHTA, excepting Mr Labana, Dr Leopold, Mrs Nitiya and Mr Ho, were former FOCHTA beneficiaries in their secondary and tertiary educations. Mr. Sokoso, Mr. Bwanali and Mr James have especially deep insight into FOCHTA as they have been employed by it for a period of time, serving in different capacities. 

FOCHTA Malawi Grassroots Committee

Members of the grassroots Committee live among and are actively involved with the people, young and old, in their communities.

FOCHTA Malawi (Australia) Inc.

Claude Ho, Public Officer

Beth McVicker-Murphy, member