Friday, December 31, 2010

Annual Program Report

WorldHope Corps Activities and Outcomes 2010

Summary: During 2010, WorldHope Corps through Mzuzu United Methodist Church in Malawi fed, clothed and supported over 100 orphaned and vulnerable children in Malawi (Hope Homes), educated 26 youth who otherwise could not complete High School (Hope Scholarships), graduated the first class of 8 and trained a second class of 12 young seamstresses (Hope Tailoring School), and put in three more village wells (for a total of 12) providing safe drinking water to over 10,000 people in remote areas.  In addition, we were able to provide emergency food, tarps, tents, supplies, and medical relief for victims of the earthquake in Haiti. Other special projects in Uganda (Home Medical Clinic) and Ethiopia (3 Hope Scholarships for orphaned youth) were supported.

Orphan Care:  The HopeHome program in Mzuzu, Malawi, began in 2007 by Mzuzu United Methodist Church. In 2008, in addition to providing $1000/month for its operation, WHC raised $1,500 to replace the roof on thatched wood church building in Mzuzu that fed and cared for 60 orphans and vulnerable children.  We also raised $500 to pay the rent on a house for a single mother with AIDS and her two daughters until she died. In 2009, a $20,000 grant from the United Methodist Global Health Fund was secured to help run the HopeHome program at the Mzuzu United Methodist Church for another year. In 2010, the HopeHome orphan care program assisted over 100 orphaned and vulnerable children who live within 1km of the Mzuzu Methodist Church.
Provide educational assistance:   In 2008, 15 Hope scholarships and educational assistance were provide for eligible orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC) in the HopeHome program.  In 2009, 19 students were assisted by WHC sponsors. In 2010, 26 youth received Hope Scholarships for secondary school and college.   We are hoping to find enough sponsors to support these same 26 Hope Scholarship recipients in 2011.


Economic Development:   In 2009, WHC responded to local proposals for program sustainability in Malawi through micro-financing and venture capital for three new economic enterprises:  Hope Tailoring School, a poultry business. A $20,000 sustainability grant was received from United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to fund these enterprises in order to sustain the HopeHomes and Hope Scholarship programs in Mzuzu, Malawi.  In 2010, the sustainability grant successfully established the Hope Tailoring School as an income-generating, vocational training venture that graduated two classes for a total of 20 young women, and then helped them capitalize and launch their sewing services and seamstress businesses.  A third class of 10 are currently in the 12 month program and will graduate in May, 2011. Additionally, funds were leveraged to produce a business plan for a poultry business and to start a piglet project in community.
Village Wells:   In 2007-2008, WHC raised funds and facilitated 6 village well projects for CitiHope International in northern Malawi. In 2009, WHC funded and facilitated three more village wells. In 2010, we installed the next three wells for a total of 12 toward our goal of 20 village wells in northern Malawi.  New village wells are being sponsored for 2011.

Special Projects: A WHC Mission Team in 2007 pooled their resources and found a way to fix the leaks on the roof of the small brick quarters where 200+ orphans were fed at the FOMCO orphan care center in Malawi.  Then, in 2008, friends of WHC raised $2,000 in 10 days to replace the roof on the HopeChurch in Mzuzu that had been stolen by thieves during a rain storm!   In 2009, WorldHope Corps donors contributed $8,500 to put a new roof on a new medical clinic--St George Hope Heath Centre in Uganda--before the rains came.  In 2010, WorldHope Corps responded to the Haitian Earthquake by facilitating emergency medical aid for Haitian victims through CitiHope from its base in DR, and provided tents and tarps for over 500 children the Shalom Zone in Mizak, Haiti. We also funded school fees for three orphaned youth in Ethiopia through the Nazarene Mission Center in Addis Ababa.

Partners in Ministry: WHC is committed to international partners in fulfilling its humanitarian mission of relief and community development.  Our ministry partners in northern Malawi include:  the Mzuzu Circuit of the United Methodist Church (UMC), Central Church of Africa, Presbyterian (CCAP), and Communities of Shalom.  Our ministry partner in Uganda is Sustainable Action for Rural Sector (SARS) in the Kibaale District, Hoima, Uganda.  Our ministry partner in Belarus is CitiHope International with whom we sponsored $200,000 in medical aid for the Children of Chernobyl. Also, through CitiHope in 2010 we sponsored food and medical aid in Haiti through CitiHope. Together--WorldHope Corps, its ministry partners in the field, and international donors and sponsors, provided over $250,000 in humanitarian relief and development in three countries in 2009-2010.

Mission Trips: Dr. Michael J. Christensen, founder of WorldHope Corps, has organized and led annual mission trips to Malawi since 2005.  In July, 2010, ten Malawi Mission Trip volunteers assisted with orphan care, recreational activities, Hope Tailoring School, and monitoring village well projects.  The next Mission Trip to Malawi for donors scheduled for May 2010.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hope Tailoring School Graduates of 2010

  WorldHope Corps Celebrates the following students in the Second Classs who graduated from the Hope Tailoring School in Mzuzu in 2010:

1.       AGNESS NYIRENDA
Agness is married with two children. Her husband is not working. This implies that both the husband and wife have no trusted source of income. The tailoring skills Agnes has acquired will help her to finance the family through some the tailoring business.



2.       HANNAH MAKALA
She is a single mother of three children. Some of her children are attending high school education. Hannah has no trusted means of sourcing funds for her children’s school fees. However Hannah is a vibrant woman at the church. The tailoring school skills acquired will help her to plant a tailoring business that will generate income for their single parent family and send the children to school.

3.       VIOLET BANDA
The death of violet’s husband left her with pain. She has five children. Hannah is not employed and doesn’t have a reliable source of income. The children need food, and basic needs and more especially school fees for them succeed in life. However Violet has no solution to the said needs. She acquired some tailoring skills that will help her to try to suffice the said needs for her and for the children.

4.       4. TOWERA NKUNIKA
Towera is married with three children. Both the husband and the wife have no source of income. For a long time they faced untold problems to raise money to feed the family. Realizing that this is a difficult task, Towera enrolled for the tailoring school. She believes that the skills acquired will help her to source money through the tailoring business to finance the family.

5.       PHALLES SINGINI
Phalles is a single mother of three children. Without a husband needs to provide to her children all the basic needs. Unfortunately, Phalles is not employed. She doesn’t have a trusted source of income. This means that she has no where to get the needs of the children from. Enrollment in the Hope tailoring School was a relief to her. She intends to use the tailoring skills to introduce a tailoring business to source funds to suffice the family.

6.       JULIATA MUNTHALI
She is married with three children. Both the wife and the husband are not employed and have no source of income. Enrollment in the Hope tailoring School was saving a sinking ship as she will be using the tailoring skills to plant a tailoring business so that they can suffice the family.
  
7.       LINDA MZUMARA
Linda is married with two children. She would use the skills acquired from the tailoring school to finance the family. She would also contribute effectively in the development of the church, the community and the country.
 
8.       LYNESS SINGA
Lyness is a single mother of two children. She is not employed and has no trusted source of income. Enrolment in the hope tailoring school was the down of hope for Lyness. She would use the skills to establish a tailoring business so that she can finance her family

GOOD NEWS about two graduates from the First Class:

Towera Hannah and Gift Manda have bought their own machines and are currently running small tailoring business. Their dreams are being accomplished.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

First Generation Lambs Club Reunion

Fifteen of us gathered Saturday night at the Lambs Club for a 35th year reunion of those who helped start the Lamb’s Church in Times Square in the mid to late 1970’s, including:

Rev. Paul S. Moore, Founder of the Lamb’s Church of the Nazarene, and his wife, Tamara
Dr. Michael J. Christensen, charter member and former associate pastor, and his wife Dr. Rebecca Laird
Fr. William (BJ) Weber, former Associate Pastor and Director of the Lamb’s Residency, and his wife Sheila who lived at the Lamb’s
Jim and Dustee Hullinger, who were on staff together and made the Lamb’s their home for over 25 years
Effie Canepa, who was the church pianist under 3 pastors, and her husband Peter
Shirley Close, who attended the Lamb’s in the late 1970’s while studying, performing  and teaching music and voice
Carl "Chappy" Valente, former associate pastor
Rev. Bob DiQuatto, lead singer of the Church’s “Manhattan Project” and staff member of the Lamb’s, and his son Jason
Rev. Gabriel Salguero, current pastor of the Lamb’s Church in its new location.
Many Lambies from across the country, even across three continents, unable to be present, sent greetings and thus contributed to our conversation about our lifelong friendships, unique stories from the past, and future hopes and dreams. 
Those who were able gathered in the elegant Standford White private dining room with its original woodwork and fireplace that was reconstructed from the original wood in the old library on the third floor, we enjoyed a three course dinner at a table especially prepared for us:

APPETIZERS
White Gazpacho
Peekytoe Crab, Green Grapes
Or
The Lambs Club Salad
With Tarragon and Crispy Egg Dressing
MAIN COURSES
Heritage Pork Chop
Fragrant Endive, Sage
Or
Wild Striped Bass
Lightly Cooked, Fresh Carrot, Ginger and Lemon

DESSERT
Double Chocolate Ginger Cake
Poached Pears
or
Deep Dish Lemon Meringue Tart
Lemon Confit, Light Meringue, Chamomile Broth
In front of a roaring fire in the comfortable, wood-paneled, private, premium, banquet room, we told stories of former times together, and caught up on where the journey of life and ministry has taken us over the past 30 years.  Paul is now CEO of CitiHope International with mission projects all over the world.  Michael and Rebecca both teach at Drew University, BJ and Sheila minister to Wall Street executives and lead the New York Fellowship, Jim and Dusty continue to minister to homeless persons and people with HIV/AIDS through Gifted Hands, Effie still plays jazz and sings at fancy restaurants in the city, and Peter owns and operates an authentic Pizza parlor. Shirley is a professor of music at Florida State University and performs regularly in New York City opera. Chappy is a professional artists in Willmington, NC, and is studying to be a hospice nurse.  Bob semi-retired from pastoring in the UCC and has returned to performing bluegrass and solo gigs with his well-known guitar, and spending time with his college age son.  And Gabriel, who was born the year the Lamb’s Church started, now has the shepherd’s staff as the sixth pastor of the Lamb’s Manhattan Church of the Nazarene (now worshiping in Chinatown).  Gabriel had heard part of the story of how the Lamb’s Church was started in the year of his birth, and humbly and patiently, he was willing to hear more:

[Quote from city streets]


The old Lambs Club building (built in 1901), which served as the Lamb’s Church from 1975-2001, after 10 years of renovation, is now the newly opened Chatwal Hotel and Lambs Club Restaurant. The hotel has done a beautiful job in preserving several elements of the original structure, including the wood paneled library and the grand fireplace on the first floor modeled after the one in Buckingham Palace.  The hotel staff was gracious and welcoming, and gave us a superb tour of the facilities, including various dining rooms and bars, fancy and expensive rooms ranging from $600 to $1,700 per night, and an unbelievably luxurious spa in what we called the “sub-basement.”  www.thechatwalny.com  

James Nelson Hullinger, first business manager of the Lamb's, worked with the Sales and Marketing office at the Hotel to arrange for our 5pm drinks on the second floor, followed by a three-course dinner at 6:00pm in the premium private dining room known as the Standford White Suite.

During and after dinner, our leader Paul Moore, Original Shepherd of Times Square, reminded us that we had gathered in ‘sacred space’ at that the Lambs Club, that the building had been set aside for a holy purpose which continued in its new phase of being, and challenged us to believe that there was yet more to do in this new phase of the place we lived in and ministered 30+ years ago. 

He hopes we will gather there from time to time, for celebrations, for ministry, and perhaps even for a worship service or sacred concert in one of the banquet rooms.  Quoting from a poem entitled “Greener Pastures” he wrote after having a vision to buy the Lambs Club in 1975, Paul said:  “The Lamb leads the lambs to the Lamb’s. 
The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,
The Shepherd of the flock, the keeper of the fold, the seeker of the lost,
Jesus, calling to himself a people to enter the door to the greener pastures of salvation,
To lie down and fear no evil…
In New York City?  Yes, in New York City!
Behold the Lamb
Leads the lambs.
To the Lamb’s…
His sheep know his voice and follow where he leads.
Another fold, newborn lambs
Tenderly, caringly, he has led to pasture, to grow, to know.
Greener pastures.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow.
In New York City?  Yes, in New York City.
And the Lamb’s is still God’s church in the city!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Annual Mission Trip to Malawi, Africa

 Annual Mission Trip to Malawi, Africa   
 May 21-31, 2011

Sponsored by:  WorldHope Corps, Inc.[1]

Led by: Dr. Michael J. Christensen, Director of the Shalom Initiative[2], Drew University

Hosted by:  CitiHope Malawi[3] and Mzuzu United Methodist Church

DATES:  May 21-31, 2011 (10 days)

Travel Plan: Depart Dulles airport (Washington DC) on Saturday, May 21 to Lilongwe via Addis Ababa (Ethiopia); Arrive in Lilongwe, Malawi, on May 22; Return on Tuesday May 31 (actual flight times not yet confirmed).

Destination:  Malawi, a small land-locked, developing country of 12 million people bordering Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique, is particularly vulnerable to famine and disease, and suffers from extreme poverty and AIDS.  The May Mission Trip team will carry out its mission in and around Mzuzu City in Northern Malawi where WorldHope Corps supports HopeHomes orphan care program, Hope Scholarships for youth, Hope Tailoring School for young women, and Village Well projects in partnership with Mzuzu United Methodist Church and Malawi Shalom Zone Committee. 

Reverse Mission: To raise hope in vulnerable communities through cross-cultural relationships, “reverse mission” and the ministry of presence.  Our service team will focus its activities visiting communities of great need and being present to vulnerable persons who have their own gifts to share.  By focusing our mission of help and hope on relational support and simply being with those who are economically poor, we hope to fulfill a ministry of presence (God’s presence through us) which may result in our own spiritual transformation. Henri Nouwen calls this “reverse mission.”  In encountering the rich spirit of the Christ in those whom we would serve, we ourselves are transformed in the process.  A good way to prepare for the trip is to read Henri Nouwen’s book Gracias to deepen your understanding of “reverse mission.”  Other reading material will be recommended to team members preparing for the trip.

Projects and Objectives:  We will assist in food distribution, volunteer at selected mission sites, meet and encourage students receiving Hope Scholarships, assist participants in economic ventures that support the mission, and visit village well projects with the objective of mutual ministry and service. We will also explore with local experts social justice issues affecting Malawians, including the HIV/AIDS pandemic, extreme poverty, water sanitation and access, and local effects of economic globalization.

Specific Activities will include the some of the following options
  1. Visit and serve daily meals to orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children at FOMCO (feeding center in Mzuzu)
  2. Serve food and lead recreational and educational activities at HopeHomes feeding program sponsored by Mzuzu United Methodist Church.
  3. Visit with youth recipients of Hope Scholarships and encourage their education, vocational training and professional goals.
  4. Meet and participate in graduation exercises of Hope Tailoring School
  5. Visit CitiHope Malawi projects, meet local staff, and participate in HIV/AIDS training
  6. Visit prisoners in Mzuzu Central Prison, delivering food and hygiene supplies
  7. Witness a WorldHope Corps village well being dug, dedicate and monitor other village wells recently installed as part of our community development program.
  8. Help local community members develop micro-financed small businesses
  9. Participate in training program for a new ‘shalom zone” in Mzuzu
  10. Conduct art workshops and recreational activities for vulnerable children and youth in remote rural area (possibly overnight).
  11. Worship with our Malawian brothers and sisters on Sunday in church
  12. Swim, canoe and enjoy Lake Malawi and/or drive through Game reserve.

Local Ministry Partners:  Mzuzu United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Synod of Livingstonia, Malawi, Mzuzu Shalom Zone Committee, and CitiHope Malawi

Meals and Accommodations:  In Malawi, we will stay together in a Guest House in Mzuzu near Mzuzu United Methodist Church.  Most rooms are double rooms, simple and clean, with shared bathrooms. We will stay in a hotel in Lilongwe the night before our return to the USA.  Group meals, accommodations, and in-country transportation by mini-bus are included in the base price of the trip. 

Cost:   $1,300 for all in-country expenses, local hospitality and international facilitation.   Cost for international travel is approximately $2,000 plus $30 per person departure tax (sometimes) from Lilongwe. Thus, the total budget for this 10 day trip to Africa is approximately $3,300 per person[4], payable to WorldHope Corps, Inc. as a tax-deductible donation supporting volunteer service in Malawi. 

Funding:  Although no scholarships are available from WorldHope Corps, team members are encouraged to request mission funds from their local church or association which can be channeled through WorldHope Corps.  .

Availability:  Limited to 12 mission-minded people who have previously donated to WorldHope Corps, with priority given to official representatives of local churches and organizations that help sponsor projects in Malawi. 

Who Should Participate?  Service-minded people of good faith and good will who share a concern for orphans and widows in Africa and who want to do their part to help end extreme poverty and AIDS in the world in our lifetime.  Those who cannot go on this particular trip but want to participate through financial support are invited to donate to WorldHope Corps, Inc. www.WorldHopeCorps.org

Deposit Required:  A non-refundable $300 deposit with application is required by February 1, 2011 to reserve a space on the trip.  $3,000 is needed by March 1 to purchase tickets and commit to local arrangements.   

Disclaimers: WorldHope Corps is prepared to facilitate the volunteer Malawi Mission Trip, but has no corporate or leadership liability for medical emergencies or logistical failures.  Mzuzu United Methodist Church is prepared to receive and host visitors and volunteers, but accepts no corporate liability for mission team organization, travel or activities. Individual travel insurance is required of all team members.

Next Step:  Request an application/information form (available via email or from website) which must be completed and returned before February 1, 2011, with the $300 deposit payable to WorldHope Corps and sent directly to 
Dr. Michael Christensen
11 Ardsleigh Dr. 
Madison, NJ 07940.  

The team will remain in touch by email to discuss trip preparations and assess team dynamics before departing for Africa.  For further information, contact Dr. Christensen at mchriste@drew.edu or 973-408-3738.  To support the mission, donate at www.WorldHopeCorps.org  For Malawi Mission updates, see blog: http://umcmzuzu.blogspot.com/    

Prayerfully count the cost and consider joining us.
It will change your life and make a difference in the world!


[1] WorldHope Corps, Inc.  is a 501(c) 3 non-for-profit public benefit corporation, registered in the State of New Jersey and recognized by the IRS for tax-deductable donations to carry out volunteer missions, humanitarian aid, and community development projects among the world’s most vulnerable areas and people.

[2] The Shalom Initiative at Drew University equips and facilitates congregations and communities working together for health, wholeness and well-being in geographically defined areas of need (called ‘shalom zones’).  Communities of Shalom is a grass-root, faith-based, international community development network initiated by the United Methodist Church and coordinated through Drew University.

[4] How total budget is calculated:  Cost of international flight (approx $2,000) plus $100/day x 10 for meals, accommodations, and in-country transportation, plus $300 for local hospitality and international facilitation.  Those who wish to make their own flight arrangements to meet us in Lilongwe owe only $1,300 for in country costs as part of the group.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Fellow Lewis enthusiasts:

I watched the new film The Chronciles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader  this week and I give it a thumbs up.  Maybe not up for an Academy Award (well, the theme song "A Place We All Belong" by Carrie Underwood is pretty good!), but certainly worth seeing with family and friends who care about high sea adventure and eternal truths.  Great spiritual themes of temptation, valor, giftedness, calling, deep magic, and sehnsucht.

Based on the third volume of C.S. Lewis's widely acclaimed and popular book series, The Chronicles of Narnia, the film is not as good as the book in my view (Aslan's Table is short changed, but the star maiden is beautiful;  Eustance being undragonned happens too fast and lacks profundity, but a movie can't capture everything that the author intended)
but the film should absolutely not be missed!   Trailer: http://www.narnia.com/

For those, like me, who like to read Narnian theology and the esoteric Lewis, I highly recommend:  Planet Narnia by Michael Ward.http://www.planetnarnia.com/


For preview clips and reviews from the C.S. Lewis Society, click here: http://www.lewissociety.org/

The C. S. Lewis Bible?

Interested in a C. S. Lewis gift idea for Christmas?   I recommend the C. S. Lewis Bible. 

Why?  Because I was one of a dozen Lewis scholars who worked on the volume, and think its very good.

Together, we compiled over 600 entries from Lewis commentary and reflections on specific passages of scripture.   We also included excerpts and essays about how Lewis approached the authority of the Bible and the role of revelation.

Order here: C. S. Lewis Bible

Book Review:  C. S. Lewis for the Holidays

More info here:   NRSV feature 


And if you're interested in my book on Lewis's literary approach to Scripture, check out C. S. Lewis on Scripture.  Order here:  C. S. Lewis on Scripture


Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Need to Stay in School in January















This year's Hope Scholarship recipients--orphaned and vulnerable youth who show promise of completing their education in secondary school (high school) in Malawi.



These Hope Scholars received the highest marks in school this year.  They are a good investment in the future of Malawi and the world.





And here's an urgent appeal for help from their Pastor in Mzuzu which I pass on to you who may be able to help them prepare for a better tomorrow.  Pastor Copeland and I are committed to raise enough funds to keep 26 orphaned and vulnerable youth stay in school next semester in Malawi.  Can you help us meet this need by contributing what you can?  Please let me know if you can help sponsor a kid for secondary school with a $250 Hope Scholarship in 2011?

Rev Michael,
 

I need your help and guidance on how many Hope Scholarships we can plan for next year.  You are the key player in this dream and WHC is the major donor.  My prayer is that there will be enough for all 26 recipients of Hope Scholarships in 2011.  We must continue to work together to empower the orphaned and vulnerable children and also EMPOWER the women in the Hope Tailoring School in Mzuzu for the glory of God.

The new semester commences in January.  There is very little money left in the account. Education is the right approach to empowerment.  We have 26 eager youth motivated to stay in school if their January fees can be paid by sponsors.  Otherwise, they will lose out. 
Advise soonest.

My best wishes for Christmas.  You are special to Mzuzu for you are God’s hand of love and miracles.

Copeland

These high achieving Hope Scholars hope to go on to University to become accountants, teachers, and doctors.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

For Your Consideration During Advent










Friends of Malawi:

We have all been warmed by fires we did not build, ate food from tables we did not prepare, and benefited from wealth we did not create.  And so we find ways to give back some of what has graciously been given to us (even in a global recession and time of uncertainty).  
  
Many of you supported orphans and vulnerable children and youth this year through WorldHope Corp's HopeHomes program in Mzuzu.  Others of you provided a Hope Scholarship for a kid to stay in school, sponsored a young woman at the Hope Tailoring School, or contributed to our Village Well initiative to supply villagers with clean water in rural northern Malawi. THANK YOU!

Together, this year, we fed, clothed and supported over 100 orphaned and vulnerable children in Malawi, educated 26 youth who otherwise could not complete High School, graduated the first class and trained a second class of young seamstresses at Hope Tailoring School, and put in three more village wells (for a total of 13) providing safe drinking water to over 10,000 people in remote areas.  

This year we also were able to provide emergency food, tarps, tents, supplies, and medical relief for victims of the earthquake in Haiti.

A detailed Annual Report is forthcoming, but I wanted to send this summary thank you letter to you now; and invite you to make one more gift before year-end in support of special projects and precious lives in Malawi, Uganda, Ethiopia, Belarus, Haiti and other places where WorldHope Corps has projects. 
Mission updates can be viewed on my blog:  http://michael-christensen.blogspot.com

The two most urgent needs I hope you will consider funding are these: 


1.  Sponsor a youth to stay in secondary school next Semester.  This year 26 kids qualified and received a Hope Scholarship, but we don't have enough funds to cover them for Spring Semester 2011.  Without our help with school fees and supplies they can't stay in school.  With our help they can complete their education and contribute to the common good.  $250 per semester is all it takes!


2.  Support a young woman who is motivated to become a professional seamstress.  We have enough Singer sewing machines and room for 12 more.  All it takes is $100 to sponsor a member of the third class at Hope Tailoring School.
 
To make a charitable contribution of any amount, you can use PayPal at our website www.worldhopecorps.org  
or write a check payable to WorldHope Corps and send directly to
WorldHope Corps
11 Ardsleigh Drive
Madison, NJ 07940

An official donor receipt for all funds contributed in 2010 will be sent to donors in January.  In the meantime, remember that Advent means a new beginning, not only for those we seek to help in Africa and Haiti, but for our vulnerable lives in places where we live as well. 

In behalf of the One who is our Hope,

Michael J. Christensen, Founder

Monday, December 06, 2010

"Save the World One Young Woman at a Time"

















HOPE TAILORING SCHOOL  GRADUATES FIRST CLASS
By Rev. Copeland Nkhata, Director

The Hope Tailoring School (HTS) focused on economic empowerment of young women who live in the community that supports over 100 orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC) through HopeHomes of the Mzuzu United Methodist Church,  is a joint venture of WorldHope Corps and the Mzuzu United Methodist Church, funded by a sustainability grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief UMCOR) and support from Communities of Shalom. 
Shalom intern Katrina Walk with Agnes Nyirenda and child
The Hope Tailoring School in Mzuzu, Malawi, saw its first class of 10 young women graduate from the program in May 2010, and a second class begin the same month.  Both classes are well on their way to economic sustainability as the tailoring skills they gained will enable them to be more productive citizens of Malawi and better able to care for OVC in their community.

The current second class of students, like the first, is made up of people who have always been on the peripherals of society; they come to this class to gain skills that will help them become financially secure economic players, breaking the cycle of poverty so common among the marginalized.  The major purpose of the school is to empower women, regardless of their current status in the world – we accept students from the immediate community regardless of if they are illiterate, under-educated or financially handicapped.

It is our hope that the skills they gain at Hope Tailoring School (HTS) will enable them to participate in the market place. All of the students are coming through this program aspire to find means and ways of generating income to sustain their families, but the HTS program dreams that they will do even more with their new skills; we hope they will change not only Malawi, but "save the world, one woman at a time."
During the devotional time constructed into each day of learning, students learned about the good works of Dorcas (also called Tabitha in the Bible) who made garments and gave them to the poor, Dorcas's garments were her alms to the poor. The devotional lessons were geared toward encouraging the women to imitate Dorcas's example, thereby receiving the same blessings given to her (Acts 9:36). The students were particularly encouraged to look at the wellbeing of the orphans and vulnerable children in their midst who could benefit from their services. James 1:26 was also an inspiration to the women - providing a Biblical basis for Christian charity to those in need.

The women consider this program a big window of opportunity through which they can acquire skills to fulfill their dreams. In the course of the training we achieved a number of things, but the accomplishments deserve special recognition. The training has enhanced the women’s social relations, increased their spiritual growth, and also gave them the skills. Now they are ready to go out into the world and start their business ventures.

The Hope Tailoring School graduation in May was a milestone to the work of UMC in Mzuzu.  It brought people from the entire city to the University hall. This ceremony was particularly unique in that we did not just use the Mzuzu University facilities, but we also had Professor Lusayo Mwabumba as the guest of honor, to speak encouraging words to the graduates. The professor shared with the audience the new branches of the dream of the Hope Tailoring School, such as the Knitting School and a Culinary School. These two new branches would give incoming students an array of skills from which to choose and hopefully utilize in the complex marketplace.

The class was very gleeful and excited about beginning this new chapter in their lives. They entered the hall singing and dancing. They even planed a fashion show, where they displayed their creative fashions, and fine new skills. The Class Captain gave a speech disclosing the teams’ gratitude for the training opportunity with a special focus on their vision to become economic players. It was a short but electric presentation.

As a gift in good faith that these promising students will be world changers, the graduates were given seed-money from the UMC head office. It is expected that this money will help them start their business off on the right foot. Each lady received 7,500 Kwacha.

The following members of the Hope Tailoring charter class of 2010 were presented certificates  of completion for nine months of vocational training:
Agnes Nyirenda
Towera Nkunika
Chimwemwe Nyondo
Lyness Singa
Phalles Singini
Violet Banda
Juliata Munthali
Linda Mzumara
Hannah Makala
Stella Ndhlovu



During her address as class captain, Agnes Nyirenda made sure to express how this course of vocational study has given the women the power to generate income for their families and for the church. The audience erupted with praise, making joyful noise and sharing feelings of success and hopefulness. Violet Banda, was recognized for her aptitude and skills as one of the best students of the first class with a special reward. Mrs. Nyirenda was rewarded for her leadership abilities with a new suit. Apart from these special awards, every student received a certificate, the aforementioned jump-start package, and a special notebook for business planning and record keeping. 
Almost all of them have already started to go into some business. Mrs. Nyirenda received orders just after the graduation to make dresses and skirts. Another student, Hannah Makala received four orders just after graduation because some audience members were impressed with her graduation suit. 

Phalles Singini made three dresses for children on the 14th of June 2010 and two of them were sold within 2 hours and the third sold on the very next day. Mrs. Linda Mzumara, another promising student, is currently making caftans for sale at a hawker’s shop.

Overall, the Hope Tailoring School is proud of the first class of graduates and hopes for even brighter and higher achievements for the next class. It is our prayer that the seeds sown in these special women will reap a fine harvest for their families, for their country, and for the world.

The second class already has started to learn the skills of a tailor and 12 new women are enrolled in the 9-month course of study.  Drew Theological School has sent us a Shalom summer intern—Miss Kartina Walk—who was with us for 10 weeks this the summer to mentor the second class and help develop the program as part of the Communities of Shalom initiative.   We are grateful to Dr. Michael Christensen for creating this joint venture and partnership between the United Methodist Church in Malawi, WorldHope Corps, UMCOR and Communities of “Shalom.