The beautiful nation of Malawi is a landlocked country in southeast Africa. It is called “The Warm Heart of Africa.” It is interaction with the people that gives you a true feeling for the warmth of Malawi.
Malawi is home to over 19.6 million people. It is slightly smaller than the state of Tennessee, but has almost three times as many people.
In the villages we visited, farming is the only source of food and income.
The average life expectancy in Malawi is 64 years of age and there is a high infant mortality rate.
For those who earn money, the average wage is $1.55 per day or $402 per year. The currency of Malawi is the Malawi Kwacha. The exchange rate, while we were there, was 750 MWK to $1 U.S.
Eighty-five percent of the population lives in rural areas. In these areas, there is no running water or electricity. There is sometimes a well with a hand pump, which may serve more than one village. If there is no well, villagers may walk half a mile or more for water.
Most of the people in the rural areas depend on farming for a living and to support their families. They have no farm machinery to work with; everything is done by hand. They till the soil with an oversized mattock. They grow a variety of crops, such as tobacco, sugarcane, potatoes, tomatoes and cucumbers, but corn (which they call maize) is the main crop they depend on for food. They grind the maize into a powder, add water, and cook it until they have a thick porridge with a consistency much like our grits. They call this nsima, which is their staple food. They cook vegetables or greens (such as pumpkin leaves) to go with the nsima. Usually, they will have two meals a day. During times of famine, they may only eat one time a day or as food is available.
Extreme poverty and hunger are challenges especially in the rural areas. Environmental challenges, such as extreme weather changes ranging from drought to heavy rainfall, cause poor crop yields and widespread famine almost yearly.
We visited six villages and spent time in the villages focusing on discipleship and building relationships. We received donations of eyeglasses, toys and money to help support feedings in the villages.
We served food to orphans, the elderly and villagers. In addition to nsima, we served cooked cabbage and chicken. They eat all parts of the chicken because it would be wasting food if they didn’t.
We visited schools and read Bible stories to the students. Mbira (meaning small animal such as a hare) is one of the schools we visited. The school has 885 students and 22 teachers. Grades 1-8 are taught at the schools. Each school let the students out of class so we could meet with them.
We presented 12 soccer balls to the villages and schools we visited. We played games with the children and watched village youth play soccer. We gave out over 100 pairs of eye glasses to villagers at the Benita Wells Center.
At Mvera, we walked through the gardens of the elderly. They showed us how to harvest ground nuts (peanuts).
We also taught two marriages seminars. The first one was held outside at Kazombwe Village. We had 80 participants. The second one was held in a church at Chiwala Village with 90 participants. We did feedings for participants, as well as for the orphans and elderly at the villages.
It was an amazing experience. We hope to go again.
If you have a story you’d like to share about Faith in Action in our community and beyond, email Sunday Stories editor Carmen Musick at [email protected]