Archives For Malawi

HOPE Malawi staff

by Sylvie Somerville, Former Program Manager, HOPE Malawi

A myth of HOPE expat work is that we spend every day interacting with clients, drinking from the hose of transformation stories you can find all over this blog.

Instead, I spent about one day a month in the field with the savings group members HOPE Malawi serves. I cherished these times of watching and listening to the unique ways people save, build businesses, and discuss the changes in their lives and communities.

My two years in Malawi, however, were filled with ongoing stories from those I did get to watch every day—partner and office staff. God is moving through HOPE and through our church partners to change lives at every level! I cannot think of a single person I’ve been privileged to spend my daily HOPE life with who doesn’t have a beautiful story of spiritual and economic transformation. I’ll cherish these stories and relationships above all else that I experienced in this lovely country.

 

Gertrude

Getrude (left) is the most ambitious Malawian girl I’ve met. In addition to her duties mentoring 27 church volunteers, coaching groups during share-outs of their savings, analyzing reports, and writing member stories, she purchased a refrigerator using her own share-out from our staff savings group. At only 23 years old, her plans are underway to open a small restaurant in town. She wakes up at 4 a.m. most mornings, eager to not waste a single minute seeking God and His purpose for her life. Her prayer life and ability to disciple others have blossomed in her last two years with HOPE.

 

Trevor

Trevor hit one of the lowest points in his life right before joining HOPE as a regional field coordinator through his church. Nearly burnt out with the emotionally taxing duties of pastoral care in a broken and disunified denomination, he was questioning God’s purposes and ready to quit. The peace and unity the savings ministry has brought his denomination have also brought new life and meaning in Trevor’s life. Continue Reading…

Jean

After her husband died nearly 10 years ago, Jean began growing and selling assorted vegetables to provide for her seven children. In Malawi, where 88 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day, Jean often struggled to put food on the table or pay school fees.

When Jean’s church began training groups of people to save money together, she became one of the founding members of Chivumbulutso, meaning “Revelation,” savings group. A proud pioneer of this ministry, Jean describes the financial and spiritual transformation she has experienced: “I became a Christian a long time ago and have been reading the Bible since my youth days, but it had never occurred to me that the Scripture can help me on financial matters.”

Prior to joining the savings group, Jean struggled to manage her finances, remaining in constant debt. Now, saving approximately $2 each week, she owns a piece of land for farming and has hired several workers. Jean dreams of growing her business and opening a grocery store.

Her spiritual life has also flourished through prayer and meditation on the Word of God. “My knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures as the living Word of God speaking directly to me has increased greatly through the sharing of the Word and experiences which we have at our group every time we meet,” Jean explains. Now, she views communication with God as a two-way street, saying, “God speaks directly to me through His Word while I speak directly to Him through prayer.”

Continue Reading…

Mary Moses

She didn’t say much.

Actions speak louder than words. And Mary’s roar: Breaking generational poverty, Mary has sent nine children—mostly daughters—to school in a region where less than 45 percent of women can read.

“Without education, you won’t go far,” Mary said.

At HOPE, we believe poverty is more than financial lack. It’s a mindset.

It’s being told: “You can’t. You won’t. You’re incapable.”

Mary is shattering this belief. Saving money for school fees, Mary is telling her daughters something different.

Through her life, she says, “You can. You will. You have potential.”

Mary with her family

Mary with members of her family

Today, her youngest daughter is the village scholar.

Her eldest daughter is a savings group member, alongside her.

And one daughter is the region’s schoolteacher.

Mary's daughter

Mary’s daughter, a schoolteacher

Thank you for coming alongside mothers like Mary who are investing in their daughters’ dreams.


Red dirt road Malawi

For two months near the end of 2013, I had the incredible assignment to write and take photographs in Malawi for HOPE International. While in the Warm Heart of Africa (Malawi’s moniker), I met some sensational folks. I experienced its beauty. And I witnessed how HOPE Malawi’s church partners are reaching the financially vulnerable.

However, I wish I’d known a few practical tips before arriving.

If you’re interested in traveling with HOPE (or international travel in general) as an intern, fellow, or visitor, here are a few things to take with you … Continue Reading…

During business training in Malawi, Country Director Douglas Kulaisi was teaching a session on reconciliation.

Douglas Kulaisi

His question to group leaders: “Do Christian couples experience conflict?”

Malawian women

Women: No.
Men: Yes.
Women: It’s men that bring conflict.
Men: No, it’s not. We forgive first.
Women: Men never say “I’m sorry.”

Malawian men group leaders laughing

Some things never change. Whether in the U.S. or rural Malawi, relationships are messy.

Continue Reading…

Sylvie Somerville, program advisor for HOPE’s Malawi savings and credit association program, recently wrote a reflection on her experience in Malawi for the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics blog. Reposted here with permission.

Children in Malawi

“Give me money! Give me money!”

I was on my first mountain bike ride through Malawi, high above the capital city of Lilongwe, traversing dry, dusty hills and a winter landscape dotted with villages.

I’ve been distressed by the absolute poverty of these villages many times, but this repeated cry from these children hit me particularly hard. They don’t speak English in these villages, so this is likely one of the only English phrases the kids know.

Cute, bright-eyed children. I wanted to find this moment endearing, being chased through Malawian villages by swarms of little children. This should have been a classic Instagram opportunity.

But it broke my heart.
Continue Reading…