Alexander Marshall Chisango

Ashoka Fellow
,
Fellow Since 1996
Abundant Life Trust

Citation

This profile was prepared when Alexander Marshall Chisango was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1996.
The New Idea
Alexander Chisango is introducing a new type of socio-economic development strategy based on the need to restore and affirm the family as the center of Zimbabwean society. Alexander believes that conventional government and private "development interventions" neither take into account the central role of the family in grounding society, nor offer viable alternatives. According to Alexander, many of the problems faced by society and the state could be eased or eliminated if families could be empowered as the basic units for social and economic development. His organization, Abundant Life Trust, provides a variety of services designed to help families stay together through hard times. Through a network of community-based family empowerment advisors, he is systematically counseling and empowering families to identify their needs, develop plans and directly organize resources to meet those needs, and implement, monitor and review their "family development plans." Abundant Life combines assistance to families in starting their own businesses with guidance in ways families can give back to their communities.
Alexander is also working to improve gender equity. He feels that conventional conceptions of family, which place men solely in the role of "breadwinner" and women in the role of "homemaker" fail to address men's and women's capabilities to act together and support each other in both roles. He believes that liberation of men and women from these often dysfunctional and oppressive gender roles will strengthen the bonds between husbands and wives and help them better provide for their families. Deeply respectful of women's aspirations for education and independent livelihood, Alexander defines Abundant Life's main goal to be "educating and counseling men to end their oppression of women" as well as appreciate and facilitate the development of female family members.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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