Who we are
Widge Woolsey - Founder of Ufulu
Widge Woolsey set up UFULU when she realised that the majority of women in Malawi live in total period poverty. Whilst on leave in 2018, Widge stayed on Likoma, an island in the northern part of Lake Malawi – and discovered that the women there have little or no access to sanitary products. She felt that in the 21st century, when most people have access to mobile phones, that this was just not right
Widge has over 20 years of experience in logistics & administration and has travelled extensively throughout Africa. She has worked in corporate finance, start up technology firms, charitable organisations and in the film and hospitality industries in Africa. Her love of Africa (especially Malawi) as well as a desire to help the women of Likoma Island, led her to set up Ufulu, to try and make some positive changes in the world. She strongly believes that no girl should miss out on her education, just because she has her period.
Widge splits her time between Henley and Malawi. She reckons her greatest achievements in life (in no particular order) are working on a BBC Wildlife documentary, setting up Ufulu and gaining a chainsaw licence!
Nandi - Likoma Cup Lady
Nandi is the reason why Ufulu was created. She grew up and lives on Likoma Island, on Lake Malawi. She first met Widge in 2018 and it is because of one conversation the two of them had, that Ufulu came about. Nandi told Widge that she had used rags as sanitary protection for 20 years. She explained how uncomfortable, unhygienic, smelly and unsuitable they were and was then brave enough to show Widge what they looked like, despite how embarrassing a confession she found it.
Nandi has a certificate in Women’s Health and Hygiene and already provides free contraception and information on safe sex practices to the population of Likoma Island. She is the proud mother of 3 boys and lives with her mother and sisters in Nkwazi village. She has embraced the role of workshop manager and is truly amazing at organising & running workshops, as well as follow-up individual 1-2-1 meetings. Ufulu could not run without her and she is a positive and impressive role model for women and girls in her community.
Devota - Dzaleka Camp Cup Lady
Devota is our cup lady in Dzaleka refugee camp, one hour north of Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi. Originally from Burundi, Devota has been living in Dzaleka refugee camp for the last 20 years. She came here with her sister and grandmother after fleeing the war and has lived here ever since. Devota speaks 6 languages and has a college degree and to us is the embodiment of female empowerment. She has been amazing at organising workshops within the camp and distributing cups to hundreds of females within Dzaleka. As soon as she met Widge and received her own menstrual cup, she knew how much cups could radically improve the lives for the females of Dzaleka.
Martha - Lilongwe Cup Lady
Martha lives in Area 23 – a suburb within the capital, Lilongwe. She has been a cup lady for Ufulu since Jan 2021, working in and around Area 23. She has an 18 year old son and is a single mother. Martha has run workshops at all of the secondary schools in Area 23 and is responsible for over 800 teenage girls being given cups. She is enthusiastic, cheerful and an amazing advocate for cups and how beneficial they can be for the females of Malawi.
This is Gloria Muliza.
Gloria is 29 years old and engaged to be married.
She has a 4 year old baby girl and lives in the Kauma District of Lilongwe. Gloria was born in Zomba and her family originally came from Machinga and Phalombe, but she now lives in Lilongwe.
When asked what she thinks of Ufulu, Gloria said
“Ufulu Malawi has come to change the lives of women in Malawi. It is tackling the problems that women have been facing during their menstruation period. It has changed the lives of me and the women around me. Thank you Ufulu for helping the women of Malawi”
Meet Chisomo Sadick.
She is the Ufulu Cup Lady for Area 21 in Lilongwe and has been distributing cups since March 2022.
Chisomo is 29 years old and has one child. She grew up in Lilongwe and lives with her mother at the moment.
We asked Chisomo what she thought of Ufulu:
“Ufulu is here in Malawi to help women. It’s helping women to have problem free periods without the worry of affording pads or using cloth rags. Ufulu has changed the lives of many women already in Malawi and has made going to school and working so much easier for so many women. Also, husbands are not going to complain to women because now they can manage their periods better. Many marriages suffer because women struggle with their periods.”
This is Damalatha Chikuse the Ufulu Cup Lady for the Biwi area of Lilongwe.
Dama is 31 years old and the single mother of a 4 year old girl.
Dama grew up in the lakeshore community of Salima and now lives in Biwi, Lilongwe. She is a trained social worker and loves helping women in her community by giving them menstrual cups.
“Ufulu is the best project that I am privileged to be part of. It’s a life changing opportunity that has and is transforming lives.
Through Ufulu I have realized that many women have huge problems with their periods in Malawi. Ufulu has helped lots of women to have a better period and a better life. These women are now comfortable doing things at any time without doubting themselves. The women who live around me are so excited and proud of the Ufulu Menstrual Cup Project.”
John - Ufulu Trustee
John was the first Trustee to sign up to Ufulu and was introduced to Widge by her father. After starting work as an engineer at Rolls Royce and a period in European property asset management, John joined Amsterdam Rotterdam Bank, before becoming Managing Director & Head of Corporate Finance at EBC AmroBank in 1985.
Following a period as Executive Director of European Mergers & Acquisitions at Samuel Montagu & Co, John was appointed Head of European Corporate Finance at the WestLBGroup. After joining Pall Mall Capital in 2000, John acquired and recapitalised the company in 2001.
John has a degree from the University of Sussex and a MBA from INSEAD and sits on both their Endowment Committee and International Council. He was also the Chairman of Integrity Action, an NGO committed to reduce corruption.
Louise - Ufulu Trustee
Louise has known Widge since they were at school together. Louise is currently working as IT Product Management Leader for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). She is a qualified accountant and business analyst, with nearly 25 years of experience in IT and operations.
Louise lives in London with her partner James and a selection of exotic fish. In her spare time she loves to be outside, whether it’s running on Wimbledon Common, walking along the Thames or pottering around the garden.
Louise is looking forward to visiting Widge in Malawi to see the work done by Ufulu for herself and the difference being made to the lives of the women and girls who live there.
Nicki - Ufulu Trustee
Nicky works at Christie Manson & Woods Ltd, where she is the Director, HR Business Partner. She has been there since 2012 and before that was HR Director at a digital marketing communications agency, Digital Outlook. Nicky has extensive generalist HR experience across arts, digital, music, entertainment, media & creative sectors.
Nicky and Widge first met at Swansea University and have stayed close friends ever since. Nicky lives in north London with her husband Mark. She is a keen diver and is looking forward to seeing what Lake Malawi has to offer when she goes out to see the work that Ufulu is doing.
Nicky became a trustee for Ufulu Malawi because she wanted to support Widge and help make a difference for young girls and women in Malawi. She also felt, that after many years working in highly successful businesses, it was time to give something back.
Annie - Ufulu Trustee
A ‘Geordie’ in the south with a heart based in the country, Annie moved to Henley on Thames six years ago having been born and bred in Northumberland. She initially worked in the events & business development sector. She was then approached to become involved in the opening of an independent coffee shop /deli in central Henley, a business she has now run and grown for the last three and a half years. Working in Henley provided her the opportunity to meet Widge.
From the moment Annie heard about Ufulu it struck a chord within her. She knew it was a project she wanted to help and be involved with. Being asked to join as a trustee was an immense compliment and she is looking forward to helping to continue to grow both the charity itself, and global awareness of period poverty. Annie lives with her boyfriend Scott and their Jack Russell, Fergus.