World Relief Malawi

Child Care Centers are Vital for Malawian Orphans and Vulnerable Children

In the United States, where about 91 percent of children are covered under some form of health insurance (U.S. Census Bureau, 2011) and have access to health and social services, it can be difficult to acknowledge the stark, contrasting conditions for children in countries like Malawi. There, poverty, food insecurity, HIV/AIDS prevalence and weak social service capacity have led to child abuse, neglect and exploitation. The needs of Malawian children are physical, spiritual, emotional and social. However, care is limited: only six percent of orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi receive medical support, four percent receive psychosocial support, nine percent receive material support and six percent receive educational support (UNICEF, 2011).

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Community-based child care centers serve as vital spaces for children to play, receive nutrition and hygiene education and access clean water. They are viable solutions for Malawian communities, yet only 30 percent of Malawian children have access to them. Local churches, in collaboration with key stakeholders, have the capacity to increase the provision of child protection and development initiatives in their communities through the establishment of more centers.

World Relief in Malawi is responding to God’s heart for justice, particularly for children. World Relief in Malawi is empowering local churches to create sustainable programs that promote self-efficacy, self-worth and hope for the future of 500 children between 3 and 18 years of age, most of whom are from HIV-affected, rural communities. Through the formation of 10 church-run, community-based childcare centers and the renovation of four existing centers, children will have better access to cutting edge, holistic services. At centers, volunteer caregivers provide children with nutritious food, facilitate games, assist with homework and provide life and psychosocial skill services. As an integral aspect of meeting the holistic needs of these children, caregivers also help children memorize Scripture and gain a better understanding of Jesus Christ.

Recently, World Relief staff shared its mission and vision for Malawian childcare improvement with Salima district’s traditional leaders, including Chief Khombedza. The Chinkhali Presbyterian Church decided to reopen its childcare center, which closed in December 2012 from a lack of resources, training and community involvement. “We did not know recommended ways of handling children at a childcare center,” said Paulina Katoma, one of the church’s volunteer caregivers. “We just did it anyhow.”

Now, through its partnership with World Relief, Chinkhali Presbyterian has access to the resources, training and empowerment necessary for meeting vulnerable children’s physical, spiritual, social and emotional needs. In word and deed, the church is able to share the transforming power of Jesus Christ with Malawi’s orphans and vulnerable children.

“In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.” Matthew 18:14

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A New Hope for Elube

  In the Mzimba District in Malawi, the local church is making a difference in its communities. One member, Elube Makwakwa, is part of the St. Joseph Support Group for those living with HIV/AIDS. In January, she lost her 45 year old son and is now taking care of her grandchildren. She has faced many challenges but shares her story of hope here:

I was unable to support myself, economically forced to live a reckless life. I was totally blank without knowing what to do with my life. Being divorced made it even harder for me to start taking on jobs culturally known to be men’s.

In 2006, I went for an HIV test after getting suspicious about my health, and I tested positive. This was a big blow to me and the family because we felt being found positive was as good as being dead. Life was miserable with no hope.

I used to think God was punishing me for my evil past. Honestly, I had no peace let alone the courage to stand before God.

It was late in 2009 when I attended a Positive Living Training which enlightened me and opened a new chapter in my life. We formed a support group where we encourage one another  and develop ways forward for our future.

Through World Relief, I have had opportunities to attend many training sessions on health, nutrition, micro-enterprise, agricultural production and marketing. They have helped me to stand on my own.

My life is purposeful; I grow crops such as tomatoes, maize and soya. I also raise pigs and do income savings. I make simple rations from indigenous vegetables, bananas and Irish potatoes. In addition, I have a back yard vegetable site for nutritional needs. World Relief gave me tomato plants. After selling the tomatoes, I used the money to buy fertilizer for crops and pigs, and now I am able to sustain production for a better livelihood and have been saving some of my money for future use.

Now, my life is an example to emulate by the community. I now believe that being HIV positive is not the end of life. I have survived for 11 years since I tested positive. I thought I would die soon but through Positive Living Training, I have lived a healthy life and am able to support my family. I also live a prayerful life because I know God has solutions to all my needs and problems. I spend time counseling my neighbors who are undergoing various challenges of life, including HIV/AIDS infected people. I admit that AIDS is real and can kill. It is my prayer that God will intervene to mitigate or eradicate it.