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The Face of Transformational Development – Malawi

What does it take to begin to improve the lives of Malawi's rural poor? Some seeds and a cow. Some training, support, and love. The people of the Mzimba region in northern Malawi have seen remarkable improvement to the quality of life of more than 3,000 families through the Mzimba Food Security Project, a joint project of NCM Malawi and World Vision Malawi.

Started in 2007 through funds raised by Nazarene youth through the Nazarene 30 Hour Famine powered by World Vision, the project focuses on intervention and support in the following activities: fish farming, legume production, small-scale irrigation, collective farming as well as other programs.

During my recent visit to Malawi, I had the privilege of visiting some people who have benefited from this project.

Mrs. Nailes Kanyinji, a widowed woman living in Shumbe village (one of the several rural villages included in the project), was one of them.

Project coordinators selected Nailes as a beneficiary because of her dire state of poverty. When her husband died, she was left with no income to live on, let alone to pay for her children's education. Her home, a small one-room mud building with a thatch roof, was not suitable for her and her children. She had to depend entirely on the care of neighbours to sustain them.

NCM in partnership with World Vision reached out to Nailes along with others in need. They gave each family maize (a hard, dry corn that can be made into corn flour), groundnut (similar to peanut) and soya bean seeds for planting as well as fertilizer.

The program also gave the community a cow that they could use as draft power for ploughing and offered technical support and education on proper land utilization and effective farming methods.

The first year, Nailes harvested several bags of maize, soya beans and groundnuts. She had enough to feed her family, plus surplus to sell to raise enough money to build a two-room brick house, with iron sheets for the roofing, for her family. She was also able to send her kids to school.

The following year, Nailes had another bumper harvest. Out of the proceeds, she paid back what she had received the previous year from NCM and World Vision so that the gift of transformational development could continue on to bless another family.

Nailes continues to multiply the “talents” she has been given. Through her surplus, she managed to buy a diary cow. She milks it daily to provide milk to drink for her family and to share with her neighbors. She also took me to see her small grocery shop that she built and manages. In her small store, she sells many basic items such as soap, milk and other household goods, providing a needed service to Shumbe village.

Nailes told me just how thankful she is for the help she received. In response to the gift she has been given, she is giving to others. For example, she provides food for children who are orphaned in her village and even pays the school fees for some of these children. Nailes could not contain her joy when she told me how this project had transformed her life, the lives of her children, and the lives of the children who have been orphaned and are now under her care.

The story of Nailes is one amazing story among many success stories of people whose lives have been transformed through the practical witness of the love of God through the Mzimba Food Security Project.

by Cosmos Alfas Mutowa Executive Director –NCM Africa

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The Chance Remark That Made a Difference

Swaziland's HIV/AIDS Task Force signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Tuberculosis (TB) Control Program of Swaziland wherein they have agreed to work hand in hand at fighting the scourge of TB. Currently Swaziland has the highest rate of TB in the world with at least 12% (WHO Global Report, 2008) of the nation's people being infected.  This is complicated by the high incidence of HIV/AIDS.  It is currently estimated that one in four adults is diagnosed HIV positive (UNGASS).

A Member of the Swaziland Parliament attended a regular monthly meeting held for the caregivers of the AIDS Task Force and the Department of Health.

Later, during a conversation, one of the caregivers expressed her concern to him at the overwhelming needs of patients in a certain area of the country, which she has to deal with every day.  These needs include hopelessness, the heartache and pain of the extremely ill and dying, all exacerbated by the basis need for food.  As a result, he tried to address these needs by soliciting money from donors after doing a mini-survey to find out exactly what the people needed.

He then organised food parcels for these patients, consisting of maize meal, beans, cooking oil, soups, e-pap (a nutritious food for those with diarrhea) and other supplies, which he delivered himself.

This generous gesture has made a tremendous difference in the lives of the patients in this area.  They are extremely grateful for what was done for them, especially as it came as a result of one of their own countrymen reaching out to them in their time of need.

by Betty van den Berg

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Children in the Community

In 2007, Rev Samantha Chambo, member of Eldorado Park Church of the Nazarene and wife of Regional Director, Dr. Chambo, saw a need for the children in the community around the Church.  She says, “we have a big informal settlement just down the road from the Church”.  When a resident of the settlement began attending the prayer group at the Church, Rev. Chambo saw the perfect opportunity to reach out to these disadvantaged children through this prayer group member.  The children’s outreach programme then began in her backyard.  Over three years later, Samantha and four other volunteers from the Church continue to offer Adventure Bible Club to  between 60 and 100 children.

A typical attendance each week is about 70 children. Singing, Bible stories, memorizing Bible verses, a hot meal and social and physical activities are how they spend each Friday afternoon.  Some special projects have been offering a weekend or weeklong summer camp, distribution of blankets with Turn the Tide for Children and other outreach projects.  Children who attend the club that is funded completely by the local church are orphans; children affected by HIV/AIDS, immigrant children who are not able to attend school and children living in poverty.  Chambo says, “we thank God because He has blessed this ministry”.  What a wonderful example of the Church being the hands and feet of Jesus Christ.  

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world”. (James 1:27, NLT).

By Denise Anderson

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