Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas in Malawi



While it is cold and wintry here in the USA, it is the hot and rainy season in Malawi. From December through March, the ground is soft and broken up, new crops are planted, green leaves grow and flowers blossom. Because it rains almost everyday, flash flooding occurs from time to time, making the dirt roads in the country unreliable and food distribution difficult.

Seventy-five metric tons of USAID food aid arrived two weeks ago at our warehouse in Mzuzu, but we have not yet begun our distribution to the 40+ medical clinics, orphan care centers and social service agencies that have come to rely on CitiHope for protein-fortified supplements to their daily servings of maize. While we can’t do much about the delay, we are purchasing some basic food supplies for 30 AIDS orphans in two HopeHomes for Christmas.

A HopeHome is simply an extended family unit that receives nutritional food aid, medical assistance, and educational scholarships from external sources. It's hard enough for families to support themselves in Malawi where extreme poverty prevails. For an average nuclear family of five who have informally adopted another 10 or so orphans, it is almost impossible. But many Christian families in Malawi are willing to care for the basic needs of an extended family, and we want to help them do this See my blog for Oct 23).

Rev. Copeland Nkhata approached me in September about his desire to start a HopeHome. One of our ministry partners, Hopegivers International, provided initial funding for Copeland and his wife (and church family) to care for 10 orphans and abandoned children who had found their way to his church.

Rev. Nkhata is the young pastor of a small Methodist church that meets in a large thatched hut with a dirt floor near our mission center. He is also an enthusiastic participant in our Pastoral and Congregational Care Training program (see October 19).

Earlier in the week I received an encouraging report from Copeland. I want to share it with you because it will lift your heart today as you see how God and his people are providing help and hope to AIDS orphans in Africa at Christmas time:

Dear Rev. Michael,

We send you many thanks for your bountiful donation of charities to Mzuzu United Methodist Church. I am exceedingly excited to report on a successful HopeHome program that we have run since last month. The task of distribution of maize/corn is just starting. As planned we bought food for 10 children but as usual some needy families felt neglected or ostracized. And the leaders decided to redress the situation by being more inclusive as they assessed the claims to be genuine. And so we ended up feeding 16 children. Subsequent are the details of expenditure…

NOTE: The list below are the names of new vulnerable children and orphans whom I had missed out on in my proposal chiefly because of oversight for they are not consistent in attending the junior Sunday school but are children of bona-fide members. Some belong to HIV infected parents:
1 Khumbo
2 Esnat
3 Shadreck
4 Mercy
5 Glory
6 Shirozi

Also note that groundnuts are good for porridge, making it more nutritious. Porridge is served in the morning and evening especially to the infected. We have not yet bought them this December because we are waiting for supplies.

Thanks for making this program happen. We are very happy as a Church. Kindly consider including the new names on your list and raising more funds in the next phase. God bless you.


Well, of course, when I read the names of the six additional children and saw the pictures he sent me, I said ‘Yes’, and authorized additional funds to be given for the purchase of food and supplies in time for Christmas. Thanks to Hopegivers International, we’ve had funding for two HopeHomes this year. We plan to start more HopeHomes in 2007 as new sponsors are identified and engaged.

A HomeHome sponsor pledges $1000 to support 10 orphans and abandoned children who need nutrition, health, shelter, safety, education, family and protection—the seven hopes of every child.

Rev. Nkhata also sent me this brief note to update me on Hope # 5--the educational needs of the children in his care:

we have identified a [secondary] school for two of our students and they are ready to start in January. The boys are so grateful for your considerable heart to take care of their critical need. By February or March 2007, I will update you on this.

Our Prayer: May the Lord Jesus richly bless you and all those involved in this project.

Love from, Copeland (Pastor)
cc Darlison (Treasurer)
cc Leaster (Lay-leader)



PLEASE REMEMBER IN YOUR PRAYERS PASTOR COPELAND AND THE 16 ORPHANED CHILDREN IN HIS CARE. THOUGH IT’S HOT AND RAINY IN MALAWI TODAY, IT IS STILL CHRISTMAS!

mchriste@citihope.org