Growing up in poverty in rural Malawi, Phanny raised her siblings on her own. Struggling to get by, she remembers often going to bed hungry. With few options to support themselves, Phanny and her siblings would collect firewood to sell over 10 miles from their home. And like many Malawians in her situation, she got married as a teenager, seeing few opportunities to develop herself on her own. Yet after having a daughter, life became even more challenging, and she and her husband struggled to put food on the table. Continue Reading…
Archives For Malawi
Like 94 percent of Malawians,* Alinafe lacked access to formal lending services. This kept her and her husband from getting the funds they needed to pursue their dream of opening a store. And without consistent employment, the couple struggled to pay for adequate housing or schooling for their four children.
But poverty affected more than Alinafe’s finances. “I looked down upon myself,” she recalls. Knowing of Alinafe’s situation, a friend (also named Alinafe) invited her to join Chisomo (“grace”), a savings group formed through a local church. Still, Alinafe remained doubtful: “I felt too small and unworthy to join the group.” Continue Reading…
By Kevin Tordoff, Vice President of Marketing
I recently found myself in Malawi, known colloquially as the Warm Heart of Africa. Driving into a southern community, we stopped by the side of the road by Nixon, a volunteer church facilitator for savings groups. Nixon has been serving in this role for the past four years—almost since HOPE Malawi’s inception. Riding his trusty bicycle, Nixon weaved his way through the dusty dirt roads, guiding us to the home where the savings group meeting was held.
Like many savings groups around the HOPE International network, the Mgwirizano (“unity”) savings group is comprised of 14 multi-generational members. As the meeting began, they enthusiastically shared how the loans from their pooled savings had allowed them to build and repair their homes, how goats had been purchased for breeding and other productive purposes. Their hard work farming small plots of land and selling the produce at market enabled the members to have the funds needed to pay back any loans disbursed from the group’s savings.
Leading HOPE’s marketing department for over a decade, these stories had begun to feel standard—I’d read and heard countless stories like the one the group shared, and I’d even had the opportunity to visit savings groups in the past that looked very similar to this one.
But then, a young man, Samson, from the group arose and directed an unexpected question at me: “Where have you been, HOPE?”
Each year, HOPE celebrates clients who demonstrate our values of perseverance, compassion, character, and creativity by announcing the Thurman Award winner. Established in honor of HOPE’s first CEO, the Thurman Award celebrates clients who have not only experienced change in their own lives but have also extended that transformation to others in their community. We’re excited to share the story of Eckness, this year’s winner of savings group programs!
When Eckness was a teenager, her family could no longer afford to send her to school—a problem many Malawian families face. And like many Malawian youth in her situation, Eckness dropped out of school and got married. Continue Reading…
When I think about some of the most meaningful moments from Christmases past, it occurs to me that most of them involve music. Whether it be putting up garlands to the rich tones of the Robert Shaw Chamber Singers, whispering the melody of “Silent Night” at the end of a Christmas Eve candlelight service, or cajoling my sister into playing duets from our old Christmas piano recitals, there’s something about music that can make even the simplest moment sacred, that can tell a story more powerfully than speech, that can bring splendor and wonder and awe and joy.
So perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that when the Lord wanted people to know about the birth of His son, He sent a choir.
This year, as Christmas nears, I’m expanding my holiday playlist. Friends from across the HOPE network took a moment to share the songs—both reverent and lighthearted—that they most enjoy, and their recommendations helped create this special HOPE Christmas playlist.
Please join me—and HOPE’s partners, clients, and staff around the world—in celebrating the coming of the Newborn King!
Suddenly raising seven children
When Fanny’s sister passed away, leaving four children behind, the choice was clear—she had to adopt them. Already a single mother, Fanny suddenly found herself the sole provider for seven school-age children.
As one of Malawi’s 2 million small-scale farmers, Fanny set her mind to working hard, knowing that her efforts meant nourishment for her children. She managed to meet her family’s basic needs but struggled to find money for school fees or even soap. “Some months, I wouldn’t have money at all,” she says.
When Fanny heard about savings groups forming at her church, she recalls, “I was the first to sign up.” Saving small amounts of money with her group, Fanny no longer needed to sell her own family’s food for extra cash. It was the boost she needed to leap forward.
Refusing to give up
When severe flooding in early 2015 rendered 230,000 Malawians homeless, Fanny’s crops and home were washed away. Despite the devastating loss, Fanny quickly moved in with her sister next door and used her savings to launch a side business selling used clothing. Even though she lost everything, she determinedly began to rebuild her home.
Less than a year after the floods, Fanny did something few in her community have been able to afford: she paid to install a water tap next to her home to help with irrigation and household chores.
“I can say this is my testimony,” Fanny says. “Before the savings group, I had no business of my own, and my children were suffering from hunger. But now, I am rebuilding my own house, and my goal is to see my children educated.”
A place to belong
Joining the savings group has not only provided financial stability for Fanny; it has brought her closer to God and to friends in her community. An active member of her church, Fanny leads worship and visits those who are ill or grieving. Eager to give back, Fanny’s savings enable her to bring offerings to church—something she wasn’t able to do before.
Fanny’s savings group has given her a sense of belonging. “My challenges have grown less because I am supported,” she says. “My fellow group members encourage me and pray for me. … Since I joined the group, I’m a more joyful person.”
HOPE GIFT CATALOG
Help entrepreneurs leap forward!
Like Fanny, millions of men and women are bursting with skills and talents but lack access to the financial tools needed to leap forward along the path out of poverty. Choose items from HOPE’s gift catalog to play a role in helping families flourish!
With your donation of $25 or more, you’ll receive a leather bracelet, hand-crafted by Rwandan entrepreneurs!*
*Bracelets are available while supplies last.