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President Hastings Banda held office in Malawi from 1964 to 1994. He discouraged any kind of participation in political decision-making, often under pain of death or imprisonment. Today, 15 years later, people in Malawi are still afraid to speak out. They do not have the experience or structure to engage effectively in local advocacy work. This paper shows how the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), supported by Oxfam, set about building confidence and economic literacy in local communities. Through learning about budget monitoring, ordinary men and women were able to begin to engage with those in power on order to improve their communities. If elections happen as proposed in 2009, these people will be in a good position to bring about real change on the ground.

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