After helping THR Scholarship Manager, Chimwemwe Ngoma, organise events in Malawi, Blandina became very interested in the potential for safer nicotine products to help the country’s 1.1 million smokers. She successfully applied to the Programme with a proposal to create a film exploring attitudes on smoking and tobacco harm reduction in one of the world’s poorest countries. With similar aims to fellow Scholar, Sahan Lungu, the pair joined forces and they created a compelling documentary that posed questions about what affordable SNP might look like in low and middle-income countries.
“The concept of tobacco harm reduction is really new here in Malawi and most people, including smokers, don’t know anything about safer nicotine products. I wanted to spread awareness of the positive effects tobacco harm reduction can bring to smokers and I also wanted to educate the general population. That’s why it was so pleasing to get our film shown on local TV. These included the channels that are most accessible to anyone living in Malawi so we were able to get our film seen by a range of people in different parts of the country.”
To create their film, Blandina and Sahan travelled to local communities and met with people from all walks of life. “We talked to them and learnt about their day-to-day lives. We discussed their smoking experiences and their knowledge about tobacco harm reduction. We also told them about safer alternatives to smoking, so I’m really proud to have made this film. It will help a lot of people in Malawi to have a better understanding of what tobacco harm reduction is all about, and a clear picture about safer nicotine products.”
Talking about her experience of the Programme, Blandina said: “The Scholarship has opened a new chapter in my career. It has helped me a lot, I have learnt new things and I have been encouraged to be proactive in my country in tobacco harm reduction. I encourage people across the world to apply for the Scholarship and be part of something bigger.”