Beneficiary Issues: Elephantiasis

Elephantiasis is an infection of the skin and lymphatic system which manifests itself as a swelling and thickening of the skin and the underlying tissues. The infected areas are commonly the lower extremities and the genital area, particularly men’s scrotums. Elephantiasis can be found primarily in South-East Asia and Africa. There are currently 1.3 billion people who are affected by elephantiasis and 30% of that number can be found in Africa.

Generally, people are affected by one of two types of elephantiasis: Podoconiosis or Filariasis. Both cause obstructions in the lymphatic system which in turn leads to an accumulation of fluid in the lower limbs and genitals because the lymphatic fluids are no longer able to circulate and are forced downwards. Podoconiosis is also called non-filarial elephantiasis or Bigfoot disease and mainly affects people who walk or farm barefoot in red clay soil areas.  The majority of these cases are located in higher elevations near inactive or active volcanoes where tiny particles of silica enter the skin of the foot. These silicate micro particles block those lymph nodes causing swelling to the foot and hardening of the skin.  A simple way of preventing podoconiosis infection is to wear shoes and/or cover the dirt floor in the house. However, once someone is affected by the silicate particles, they can prevent further discomfort by washing the foot and lower leg daily with soap and water and using an antiseptic cream as the skin begins to tighten and crack.

Filariasis, on the other hand, is caused by parasitic, hair-like worms that infect and reproduce within the lymphatic system. This type of elephantiasis is transmitted by multiple bites of infected mosquitoes or black flies over time. Filarial elephantiasis has three stages: asymptomatic, acute, and chronic. A person who is infected but asymptomatic doesn’t show any outward physical manifestations of the disease. However, they still suffer damage of the lymph and immune systems and kidneys. In the acute stage, the person begins to see localized swelling of the lymphatic vessels, lymph nodes, and skin. This inflammation is caused by bacterial infection due to the lowered immune response and damaged lymphatic system. The chronic stage is the deformity of the affected limb either by tissue swelling or the thickening of the skin. This is the stage where, for a man, the scrotum becomes obviously filled with fluid and uncomfortable.

Because elephantiasis can lead to such obvious limb deformities, many people suffer from financial hardships as they no longer have stable sources of income and increased medical expenses.

1.World Health Organization. Media Centre. Lymphatic filariasis. 2012. Web. <;. Last accessed 4 May 2012

2. Last accessed 4 May 2012

3. Last accessed 4 May 2012.


5.McNeil, Jr., Donald G. “Beyond Swollen Limbs, a Disease’s Hidden Agony.” New York Times 09 Apr 2006. Web. 4 May. 2012.


The Houses Being Constructed at Napwanga Village

Primary School in Napwanga Village

Napwanga Village, a poor village in Zomba, is the home of several of our elderly and disabled recipients. One of the problems our beneficiaries face is living in substandard housing. As a result, one of the things our organization does is build and repair housing.

Inside of one of the simple-structure houses at Napwanga Village

So far, Ayileche has been able to build ten houses for the elderly and the disabled. The structures are very basic: either one- or two-rooms and with no running water or electricity fixtures as is the norm in the area. The houses consist of a clay brick building and are topped by a corrugated metal roof panels.

Two of our volunteers surveying a clay brick house being built at Napwanga Village

Most of our housing budget goes into improving existing housing structures. For example, some houses need corrugated roofs installed in order to prevent leaking during the rainy season. Also, some walls and floors need to be fixed and plastered.

Newly-constructed house at Napwanga Village

The newly-constructed house of one of our elderly beneficiaries, Flora Jeremiya

In the future, we would like to build more houses to assist people in need. We anticipate the cost of renovating and building these new houses to range from USD$300- USD$1,500. We will rely on donor’s funds to do so.

Thank you for your support.Please click the button below to donate any amount.


Elderly Beneficiary – Evelesi Gomani

Evelesi Gomani, one of Ayileche’s Elderly Beneficiaries

Problems Faced

Eighty-one year old Evelesi Gomani is one of our beneficiaries. She is married and has had little education. She lives with her husband, 83-year-old Mr. John Gomani, next door to her only child, her son-in-law and their six children. Because Mr. Gomani has not been able to financially contribute to the household since he was laid off as a security guard in the 1990s, the couple face many difficulties and uncertainties about the future. Evelesi helps raise her grandchildren because, not only is her daughter’s house too small to accommodate her large family, but also her son-in-law’s paltry income selling fried potatoes at the local market is too meagre to support his family.

The Gomanis’ have a small patch of land on which they are able to farm and have supported themselves thus far. However, as they become older, farming becomes more difficult for the elderly couple. Additionally, the land often cannot produce an adequate supply of vegetables and cereals to feed the couple and their extended family.

How Ayileche Helps

Ayileche CBO currently only accepts one beneficiary per family as our funds are limited and, by selecting a single beneficiary from each family, we are able to impact a larger number of people. Currently, Evelesi receives a monthly food hamper filled with food and everyday essentials. In the future, we plan to monitor the condition of her house to make sure it stays in a habitable condition for the family.

We appreciate any donations.


Sweet Potato Cookies Recipe (Malawi)

Sweet potatoes are very plentiful in Malawi, often eaten boiled or roasted as a snack and occasionally made into cookies!

Sweet Potato Cookies (Malawi)


3/4 cup mashed sweet potatoes
1/4 cup milk
4 tbsp melted margarine
1 1/4 cup sifted flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon


Preheat oven to 375 F
Mix sweet potatoes, milk and melted margarine and beat well
Sift and stir in the remaining ingredients
Turn onto a floured board, knead lightly and roll out to 1/2 an inch thick. Cut with cookie cutter
Place on greased baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.
Sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar mix on top

Dr Dezi- World Medical Fund



A word from our partner: World Medical Fund.

A high energy five minute clip showing the beauty of Malawi and its people, and telling the story of Dr Dezi who works for the World Medical Fund in the Nkhotakota area in Malawi.

The World Medical Fund is a children’s charity doing work in the remote areas of Malawi, taking much needed medical services to the people who live miles away from the government hospitals.

The music is a mixed tape of a group called ‘The Very Best’, for which the singer, Esau Mwamwaya is Malawian, and singing in Chichewa.

If nothing else, just listen to the music.

African Stereotypes


Gabriel, Benard, Brian, and Derrik, who live in Kenya, teamed up with Mama Hope to fight against African stereotypes.

“If people believed only what they saw in movies,” they said, “they would think we are all warlords who love violence.”

Pretty incredible video, right?