Othakarhaka Foundation

Founders & Leadership

Our Founders

Ida Puliwa is the founder of Othakarhaka Foundation. She was born and raised in a village called Nakhonyo in Mulanje, Malawi. She became the first female from her village to graduate from college after a professor from Virginia Tech, Marquita Hill visited Malawi and sponsored her college education 11 years ago.

Marquita’s kindness inspired Ida to start Othakarhaka which means passing on the kindness to empower and uplift the lives of the most vulnerable and marginalised people in her community. However, she could not do this huge assignment on her own and needed support of others to execute the vision of Othakarhaka into reality. Ted Mwango, (now Ida’s husband and co-director) and some other few community members stood with her vision when majority of the people rejected her ability to lead the organization that has now become the most impactful grassroots organization in Malawi.

Through her work at the Othakarhaka, Ida has won several awards for her outstanding community social service delivery through her charismatic leadership that is transforming poor struggling villages into self-reliant, sustainable communities through quality education, accessible public health care, economic empowerment and food security.

Ida Puliwa, Founder (Right) & Ted Mwango, Co-Director (Left)

Board of Trustees

We are governed by a team of individuals who are typically volunteers and supporters of Othakarhaka Foundation. The composition of Othakarhaka’s board of trustees is as follows;

1.Malawi Board

Main Board Members

  • Chairperson: Mr Peter Asibu
  • Secretary: Sam Majamanda
  • Treasurer: Mercy Sitima
  • Hendrix Mwale

Other Board Members

  • Charles Nandolo
  • Memory Lupande
  • Mary Mzwiti

Advisory Board

  • Ramson Mpawa
  • Eneless Nsomba
  • Mary Baluwa
  • Joseph Mukhuwo
  • Dziwani Kapu
  • Mary Namanguza


This is a 501 (c)(3) committee born in 2019 after a team of Executive MBA students from the university of Michigan Ross school of business led by OTK friends Dr Don Thomas and Gloria DeCoste visited Malawi. With support from their professor Andy Lawlor, these individuals decided to set up a fund-raising body so that they would be consolidating financial assistance to support Othakarhaka.

The composition of IDA board is as follows:

  • Matthew Lehman (Current president)
  • Gloria DeCoste (President 2019 – 2020)
  • Victor Linares (President 2021-2022)
  • William Ramsey (treasure)
  • Donald Thomas
  • Tiffany August
  • Erin Helgerson
  • Andrea Freidus
  • Nicole Irving-Hogan
  • Janet Cunningham

3. Dr. Marquita Hill and Dr. Don Lightfoot

These are US based retired professors and OTK founding donors who have provided strategic support since the inception of Othakarhaka.