Nearly a week has passed since Cyclone Idai devastated three of the most vulnerable countries in Southern Africa, Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, and the full extent of the disaster and the needs are still growing.
I grew up in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where at the time, my parents were serving as missionaries. My best friends were girls from local families.
Mary Molo’s greatest joy comes from educating the children of her rural community. But she doesn’t keep this joy to herself. She invites as many others as possible to be a part of her influential work in Malawi. Through her community-based childcare center, Mary brings her neighbors together to serve vulnerable children, many of whom come from HIV-affected families. When people from across the village pool their unique gifts and talents, they can offer children a wider range of physical, emotional and spiritual care. “My advice to everyone is that let us get united towards supporting early childhood education,” Mary said.
The government of Malawi depends on communities to provide their own preschool services, which prepare children for primary and elementary school. When Mary founded her center 11 years ago, she had been widowed and raising her six children on her own. But there was still room in her heart. When the Swaswa Childcare Center opened, Mary soon had even more children to love.
Then six years ago, World Relief Malawi began supporting Mary’s initiative. Her capacity to serve and teach the children of her community grew even more.
World Relief trains church volunteers to become closely-linked supporters of childcare centers. Across Malawi, 34 churches are caring for the children in their communities. Volunteers use their own resources to serve vulnerable children by cultivating gardens outside the centers and using the crops to prepare nutritious meals. This is essential because many children in Malawi are malnourished. Healthy diets support the development of young children and prepare their growing minds for future educational success.
The volunteers have great capacity to love. As they provide emotional and social support, the children develop self-esteem and confidence. In one year, 7,998 children in Malawi were served by World Relief staff, volunteers, churches and leaders like Mary. At the Swaswa Childcare Center, she’s giving the most vulnerable children the strong start they need to become the future leaders of Malawi.
To empower heroes like Mary, join us at empowerahero.org.
Ntchisi, a district located in the heart of Malawi, is among the most vulnerable places where World Relief works. Forty percent of the population lives on less than $1 a day. Most people make their living as farmers, but the difficult conditions they work against make for poor harvests and profits. Preventable diseases like malaria and diarrhea are common here, but healthcare facilities and doctors are extremely few and far between. Some say Ntchisi is a place to drive through – but not to linger in for a visit.
But this is precisely what World Relief Malawi intern Stephen Blazs did. Once he was able to take a closer look at a village in Ntchisi, he noticed small signs of transformation despite the deep injustices that existed.
Much of his role over the summer was to develop new ways to monitor the progress of World Relief programs. But one day, he set out from the office in the capital city to visit a “model village” in Ntchisi. Here, World Relief volunteers and staff worked to improve the health of mothers, orphans and vulnerable children younger than five. Because of his studies in public health at Johns Hopkins University, Blazs understood the magnitude of the vulnerabilities of the region, but he could also see the signs of hope and progress that the untrained eye overlooks.
In this village, children wore shoes and socks hung from clotheslines – displaying the purchasing power families had built from joining savings groups. Clean pots and pans sat out to dry, preventing germs from spreading at the next meal. Yards were dotted with latrines and hand-washing stations, protecting the entire village from water-borne illness – and reducing the chance of having to travel to a distant health clinic.
“It was encouraging to see an example where community development was working,” Blazs said upon his return to the US. Thanks to the commitment of volunteers who share life-saving health lessons with their neighbors, lasting changes were taking root in this village and many others in three other districts across Malawi.
Interested in learning and standing with the vulnerable through a hands-on internship? Check out World Relief’s domestic and international opportunities today!
Stephen Blazs is completing a Master of Science in Public Health degree through Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. As a World Relief intern, he developed monitoring and evaluation tools for various health and social development programs in Malawi and Mozambique.
Every day injustice pours out of news headlines, and we’re inundated with figures that tell a story of a broken world. These statistics of war, modern-day slavery, disease and persecution can seem overwhelming. And we wonder where to even begin to address these issues. But since the Church stands on the powerful hope of Jesus Christ, we don’t have to be overwhelmed. We can take a step back and realize that those overcoming these hardships are like us, broken people created by God with purpose and potential, and then we start to understand that we can unite with them to change the world.
In this, Pastor Andy Stanley reminds us that we have the ability to, “Do for one what we wish we could do for everyone.” Building relationships that last over time and difficulty, growing fruit of lasting transformation and doing justice together are all a part of this “doing for one” love that doesn’t wear out.
When the Deeper Life Bible Church in Malawi joined the fight against HIV/AIDS, the country had one of the highest HIV rates. But they didn’t aim to develop a cure. Instead, the ministry team made a plan based on their gifts: they gave their time and their resources to care for neighbors isolated by HIV. That’s where they met Consolata, a woman suffering from both the social and physical side-effects of the disease.
“No one was concerned with my life and my condition until the ministry team heard my story,” Consolata said.
Then, her neighbors began to serve through word and deed. They fed her. They clothed her. They visited her and included her in an HIV support group. Over time, Consolata’s physical condition improved – and she put her faith in Jesus Christ.
Today, as we commemorate World AIDS Day, we can report that Consolata has joined the same team that first cared so deeply for her. Now, she’ll be the one reaching out to others who are sick and neglected – passing on the gifts she received.
So, who is your “one”? And how will you begin to stand with them this Christmas season? For more information on how you can partner with World Relief and local churches throughout the world to empower the most vulnerable, visit worldrelief.org/donate.
“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone – especially to those in the family of faith.” - Galatians 6:9
Roberta Nagel, volunteer Church Partnership Coordinator for Malawi, shares her reflections on Easter and the work of the Church in Malawi.
We are just a few short days from Easter. As I remember and reflect upon relationships formed half a world away from my birthplace, I am captured by the intimate analogies between what I have personally witnessed in lives here, and the miracle of our Lord’s resurrection.
Time after time, I see firsthand a life at the brink of poverty-induced despair or death from HIV/AIDS, but which now presents the picture of joy and health – all because of the love of God made manifest through World Relief servants who extended a small kindness – a cup of cold water - their lives have been “resurrected” from death to life.
Because a volunteer visited, and later accompanied her to get tested for HIV, a woman whose village was planning her funeral as they saw her wasting away from an AIDS related illness, is free from any symptoms and serves her neighbors as the leader of the very group who reached out to her with love in action. This, just one of hundreds, perhaps thousands of stories from World Relief venues the world over.
Just think, because of His Resurrection, we are in the unparalleled business of bringing resurrection rescue to those in our circles of influence as the extension of the hands and feet of our Lord Jesus. What a blessing and what a responsibility!
If you think this language is too dramatic, I invite you to ask them for yourself and see how they describe their transformation. They will assure you it is nothing short of a resurrection day miracle.
Easter Blessings to all – HE IS RISEN INDEED!
second photo by Marianne Bach
In June, Second Presbyterian Church of Memphis, TN took a Vision Trip with World Relief to Mozambique and Malawi. One team member, Cory Brown, an attorney at Rainey, Kizer Reviere & Bell, PLC reflects on his trip: Our small team traveled to Malawi to explore a potential partnership with World Relief. On our second day in Malawi, our World Relief hosts led us to a small village in the Ntchisi district to meet with staff members, local leaders, ministry personnel and volunteers. We were introduced to numerous village program participants, dined with a local pastor and toured a small livestock operation.
However, the initiative that made the greatest impact on me was a small group of village women engaged in micro-finance.
Gathered around the edges of a large blanket sat about a dozen women of varying ages. The group’s leader opened a wooden box with multiple locks. Inside the box were account books belonging to each member that recorded the respective member’s investment. With the account books was a small stack of cash representing the collective investment from which the group gave out individual loans.
As we watched, the members engaged in a myriad of transactions: applying for loans, granting loans, rejecting loans, inquiring on the status of existing loans, detailing foreclosure rules and discussing interest rates.
It was not only encouragement or hope that struck me - customary emotions for an outsider witnessing such an event - but humility.
As a transactional attorney, I often spend days drafting complicated agreements between sophisticated parties memorializing complex arrangements, purchases and sales. The ensuing legal fees incurred by those parties are often substantial. But here were a dozen parties, unrepresented by counsel, buying and selling shares in a business entity of their own imagination, borrowing funds, and paying back principal and interest all without lengthy contracts or corporate authority.
Fortunately, once back at home I was able to convince myself that business attorneys perform an indispensable service for the companies they represent, but I could not help but think that maybe the ladies of that particular village were better off without “advice of counsel.”
Savings for Life™ works by educating trainers to mobilize and train groups of community members in how to build and manage their own savings fund. As the savings fund accumulates, group members access small loans from the fund to finance business or consumption needs. Loans have fixed terms and are repaid with a service fee, which is retained within the group in order to grow the group’s savings fund and provide a return on their savings. Groups are self-managed and set their own policies for their operations. To support a Savings Group, click here.
We are a 1 1/2 weeks away from the start of RIDE/365. The team has been training daily for the last six months, with their recent 45 mile bike ride taking them through scenic northern Baltimore County.
Kris Bailey is part of the crew and heads up Women Who Stand/Baltimore. She visited Cambodia last January and has a deep passion for raising awareness for the vulnerable in Cambodia and Malawi. Here is her “Why” on joining the RIDE/365:
Ride a bicycle for 365 miles? Are you kidding?? No way!!
Now drive 365 miles? Hand out snacks and drinks? Read a map? These things I can do. Taking a quote from the movie Rain Man, "I'm an excellent driver."
It is a privilege to participate in RIDE/365 as part of the crew. And I'm excited to help fund two World Relief programs that serve vulnerable women and children in Cambodia and Malawi.
I've had the privilege of visiting Cambodia and seeing the poverty, the limited services for those at risk, and the children whose black hair is now rust-colored from poor nutrition. The ability to grow the moringa tree, which is so high in nutritional value, can be the difference between life and death for people with HIV, and can bring new hope of sustainable nutrition to families and communities. And then, as a mother of two children, it is moving to be part of providing an opportunity for children in Malawi to go to school, children who normally would not have that option.
Race Pace Bicycles is providing pre-ride support through bike repair classes, bike fittings, bike tune-ups, nutritional tips, and sending equipment and tools possible repairs needed on the road. Clif Bar is providing food and drinks for the race and training rides.
This ride couldn’t happen without the support and encouragement of family and friends. You can be part of the support team, too, without having to get on a bike!
1. Donating to support one of the riders.
2. Join us NOW in praying for the safety of these riders, both in their training and during the ride itself. We can also be praying for the health and safety of the people in Cambodia and Malawi for whom we are riding.
3. Be a part of the “Welcome Home” party on Sunday, September 23. Watch for more details.