Guest Post: Malawi, Summer 2015

After the amazing summer we had in Malawi with the many volunteer teams that visited Mtendere Village, we have loved hearing about how the Lord has impacted the lives of those who served with our children. One of the groups that visited sent us some testimonies from their group about what it was like to serve and love our children through tutoring and facilitating Vacation Bible School. We’d like to share with you what these wonderful volunteers wrote about their experiences:

“Our team leader gave a speech to the children of Mtendere on our first day in Malawi. He said, ‘the people on this team loved you before they even met you.’ I remember thinking how true that statement was. When we finally saw these children for the first time, I was overwhelmed with love that I had felt for these children for months leading up to the trip. I traveled around the world to see them and to show them that love and give these children as much as my heart as possible in two weeks.

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My favorite place to be was in the middle of a group of kids. I loved being surrounded by so many precious hearts. It’s amazing to watch them reflect what God wants us to be like in our faith. They have joy – a joy that can’t be taken from them. Someone from the village said one day, “if you can’t be happy here, where else can you be happy?” They believe in limitless possibilities and they have the most fun learning about new things. Interacting with the children at Mtendere taught me so many things, but above all, they taught me how to love everyone.

One night our team leader led a devotional in the village on being a light for the rest of the world. He used glow sticks to illustrate this, and every child got one. We continued to worship in the dark after his words because it all took place during a power outage. As I looked around at all the glow sticks and listened to the children YELL their praises to God I found myself in tears. I was experiencing worship with abandon. I was in the middle of a group of people who didn’t care how they looked or sounded. Their focus was on praising their Lord and Savior. I feel like the people of Mtendere gave me so much more than I gave them. But I know that’s how the family of God works, we come together and we are encouraged by one another. I know I have done that for Mtendere, and Mtendere has definitely done that for me.”

– Maggie (first time in Malawi)

 

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“Tutoring the children at Mtendere village was the most extraordinary and special experience I have ever had. This summer was my first time in Malawi and I am incredibly honored to have Although it was not always easy teaching them about negative numbers, sentence structure, about the Bible lessons, it was a truly amazing experience to connect and work with them. I’ll never forget when we were about to leave Malawi and the three girls I had taught hugged me and said, “I will miss you AK.” It meant so much more than they could ever imagine. I know the numerous hours of tutoring each day was not easy for them, but I could tell that they really appreciated us being there and that is an indescribable feeling. It’s been two months since I’ve been back in America, but not a day goes by where I don’t think about the many life and God lessons that I learned from the children at Mtendere village.”

– Alysa (first time in Malawi)

 

“Growing up I would have never thought that I would travel even down my own street to tutor young children, let alone to the opposite side of the world. So, when I was called to go on my first trip a year ago I felt inadequate and unsure even about teaching English and math. But there’s something different about Malawi and the children in Mtendere village which make it easy somehow. The young children I worked with have hearts like no other and a longing to learn more each day. While it is cliche to say ‘you will learn more from them then they will from you,’ I don’t believe that statement could be anymore true. While we can teach them simple addition or how to write an outline for an English paper; they teach us about true joy and how to love with your whole heart. As time passes there, it’s easy to grow tired from waking up early and staying up late every day working on academics. But when you see the joy in a child’s eye who finally understands something he or she’s been struggling with it makes it all worth while. That’s a feeling that you simply can’t compare to any other. This alone is reason enough to draw me to a place so far from where I’ve always called home. I’ve made that long journey two years in a row now, and I can honestly say that I pray every day for my family in Malawi and for God to reunite me with the children I love teaching so much.”

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– Nicole (second time in Malawi)

Natalie’s Story

Natalie“In my country, girls like me disappear into the sex trade and their story ends very differently.  I know Stella’s Voice and 100X saved my life.”

I grew up in the largest orphanage in Moldova.  When I was four, my mom became blind in an accident.  My grandmother looked after me for a while, but it was hard because she didn’t have a job.  When I was seven, she put me in the orphanage.  

Being in the orphanage was not fun.  I had no one.  No one ever told me that I was loved.  I had no hope, and wanted to give up on life.

At 16, we “graduate” and are kicked out of the orphanage.  When I turned 16, I would cry myself to sleep.  The orphanage wasn’t great, but it was all I had.  I was told about the risk of human trafficking, but without a place to go, I didn’t know how to avoid this risk.  I didn’t know who to ask for help.

A few days before I was put out, I was told about Stella’s House. I didn’t believe something like this existed for me—an orphan.  I couldn’t believe that I would be able to continue my studies and be a normal kid.  Stella’s House and 100X taught me about Christ by showing that they care for kids like me—they gave me a future when I didn’t have any hope and the family I’ve always wanted!  In my country, girls like me disappear into the sex trade and their story ends very differently.  I know Stella’s Voice and 100X saved my life.

You can help us reach more at-risk girls like Natalie.  Find out more.

*100X has partnered with Stella’s Voice in Moldova since 2006.

An American Nursing Student in Malawi

Katie Sanderson, recently shared about her perspective on the recent Auburn University trip to Malawi, now, we’re excited to share a student’s thoughts! 

Clinical mornings in Malawi were made up of something different each day—we never knew what to expect when we tumbled out of our bus.  The one thing we could always count on was to be greeted with smiling faces, our Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN) partner and friends, and things we have never seen or experienced before.

Over the span of four days in clinical, there were never less than a few hundred patients waiting when we arrived on site—all eagerly waiting to receive vaccinations, treatment for sickness, and family planning assistance.  During those four days going all around Lilongwe to different villages and communities, I was exposed to more than I have ever seen.

In our clinics, we offered vaccinations for healthy babies, a clinic for children under the age of five who were sick, and family planning for women.  My favorite station to be assigned to was the under five clinic.  Mothers would come and sit with their child in their lap, and my KCN partner and I would work as a team to evaluate our patient.  She would translate for me and we would work together to arrive at a diagnosis and plan of care.

As an American nursing student, having this much autonomy was exciting and terrifying, but it was very clear at the end of each day that we had made a difference in the lives of hundreds of God’s children in Malawi.  It was very humbling to be the Lord’s hands and feet in this situation—being able to give infants and expectant mothers important vaccines to protect against tetanus and other diseases.

Our trip did not only consist of outer clinical sites, however. We were blessed to be welcomed into the homes of Mtendere Village and get to know the children and the house moms.  Momma Ruth and Momma Naomi took me in as their own child and each night we all met together with the children in their houses to have devotionals and sing together.

Being able to travel across the world and find such strong faith in a country that seems to have close to nothing was something that changed my heart and encouraged my faith in a way that I will never forget. This trip was a huge life-changing opportunity that I feel so blessed to have been a part of.

Ruthie Schaefer is a nursing student at Auburn University.

LEVERAGE: Beauty of Life

As I sit here back at home, all I can think about are my adventures back in Malawi. How truly blessed I am to not only have gone once, but twice. Traveling to Malawi has allowed me to discover the beauty of life. It reminds me that I am not complete without these beautiful people who live half way across the globe. There is nothing like sitting on the porch of the guesthouse, overlooking Mtendere Village, and just spending time with all the wonderful kids. Even the amazing photos I have of the kids do not do them justice. Their beauty is something I have experienced first hand and it is these moments that will stay with me through the rest of my life.

While at Mtendere I had the opportunity to do some tutoring, help out in the preschool, and help out anywhere else it was needed. There were always opportunities to help out. Working in the preschool room was such a joy! I am amazed by how much the preschoolers know! It brought me great joy to watch Lovemore, the preschool teacher, share in his students’ successes. As a first grade teacher, having the opportunity to work with these children one on one is amazing. I had the chance to tutor a lot of the students in standard one, which is comparable to first grade. I have never seen such passion and excitement to learn. When we provided manipulatives and hands on learning materials the students’ eyes lit up. I love seeing such excitement to learn. The students are so resourceful and I know they will continue to work hard on their studies.


Traveling to Malawi has changed me forever. It has shown me to truly care for issues that are bigger than myself. In life, I think everyone has a special issue close to their heart, and I have found mine; those kids who have been left alone in this world. Mtendere Village is a place for some of these children and if you spend even a day there you can see how much love can do for a child. As my professor, Dr. Tony Kline said, “It’s amazing what a year of love can do.” This quote has stuck with me since this trip and I realize how truly profound love can be.  During my trip I witnessed this first hand.  A beautiful, 10 day old girl, named Winnie was given a chance at life in Mtendere Village. She was brought home, and immediately surrounded by family. It was a miracle, a chance for a child to grow up in a world where she is cared for. While there, I also got the chance to meet and spend time with the girl I sponsor, Eneles. At the beginning she was very shy and timid, but as time went on she opened up to us. I cannot even begin to describe her true beauty and joy. She has this smile and laugh that are just contagious. I am so proud of her and can’t wait to watch her grow as a person.

The world is a beautiful place, full of works of art. Throughout my entire trip, I experienced these first hand. Mtendere Village is a piece of this. There is nothing like walking the kids to school on the dusty African paths. Watching kids study and work so hard. Teaching the kids new things. Staring off at the mountains in horizon. Swinging at night and gazing at the stars. Laughing and being a kid. Hugging kids every single day.  Singing and praising God, who has given us this wonderful life. Seeing the smiling faces of kids who have gotten a second chance at life. This is my life, my chance at getting to know the world and some of the magnificent people that fill it. I can’t wait to go back again.

Maura Sawicki graduated from Ball State University in 2011 and is in her second year teaching 1st grade.

LEVERAGE: The Warm Heart of Africa

The Warm Heart of Africa

by Blair Brendle 

The “Warm Heart of Africa” is this country’s nickname

The beauty in the faces has given it its fame

A place of peace, jokes, and constant smiles

A place of strength, endurance, and perseverance for the miles

But most importantly to me, this country holds a special place

A village full of children that could have easily been erased

Because though this country is beautiful, it is struggling all the same

Not enough food, too much disease, poor education, a cyclic game

But this one special village is trying to make a break

To the cycle of helplessness, loss, hunger, disease, and mistake

This village has a dream to empower and equip

The next generation to get out from under injustice’s grip

This dream is big and lofty, of course this much is true

But one day at a time, they’re doing all that they can do

Within this village resides almost 200 of its nation’s best

Whose pasts are full of darkness, but whose futures can be blessed

This village’s name means peace; in Chichewa it’s called Mtendere

But it’s more than just tranquility or resting for the weary

It’s a place where within the peace, true restoration occurs

Where what was, is replaced with what can be; where true redemption stirs

Where acceptance, adoption, and forgiveness are part of each day

Where The Truth and The Life are ever exposing The Way

It’s a tiny little village in stark contrast to a great big earth

But to all who step foot on it, it grants a chance for new birth

It’s a slice of kingdom on this side of glory

And I’m so thankful that for three weeks I got to be a part of its story

Blair spent three weeks at our orphan care program in Malawi this summer.  She drafted this poem shortly after her return.  We are always very excited to see people leveraging their talents for good!  

IMPACT: From Dasa

We received the following letter from Dasa, and wanted to shared how your support has impacted this young girl’s life.  It is YOUR support allows us to reach children with stories similar to Dasa, so we believe this letter is for you as well.  Thank you for your partnership!

Dear 100X Development Team,

My name is Feodosia Rosca but everyone calls me Dasa Cameron.  When I was born, my father rejected me for not being a boy, and at two years of age, my mom abandoned me too.  I stayed in my uncle’s house for a few years, where his wife started each day by telling me that I was a mistake.  She would tell me that I was going to grow up and became “nothing” like my mom.

After a few years, my uncle sent me to the largest orphanage in Moldova, a place with 850 children—my “home” for the next seven years.  I hated the world.  I hated myself.  All I knew at that moment was that I wasn’t wanted, accepted or loved.

Being an orphan is not easy no matter where you are in the world, we all feel the same, we all have the same questions inside our hearts, we all share the same fears, and we all shared tears for years and years.  We have no hope.  When kids think of themselves as nothing, they never dare to dream.

In my country, when you turn 16 you have to leave the orphanage and manage in life on your own. Most of the kids never make it.  Life is so rough on us that most give up even before they start.  When you go into the world, everyone sees you as a thief, liar…you are the worst there can possibly be.

When my time came to leave the orphanage, I thought my life would end.  I had nowhere to go, but I am thankful to Jesus that he had a plan.  Through 100X’s partnership with Stella’s House, I was given a place to live.  I learned that Jesus is real, that he loves me like no one else, and that has a great plan for my life.  Most of all, I learned that I was not a mistake.  God doesn’t make mistakes.

I want to say thank you to 100X for giving me the opportunity and honor to study in America.  It means a lot that you believe in me—that you don’t look at me as an orphan.

I never dreamt when I was an orphan, but since I have Jesus in my heart, He has allowed me to dream…and dream big.  He took me from an orphanage school desk to a university in America.

100X, you are amazing.  You give kids like me hope; you take us in your arms and don’t let us go until you are sure we can fly on our own.  I want to say thank you for being His example on earth.

–Dasa Cameron

Will you give a gift today that will help us reach more children like Dasa?


Galina’s Story

“450,000 women have disappeared from my country [Moldova], and I or any other girl from Stella’s House could have been one of them.”  — Galina

As “Human Trafficking Awareness Month” comes to an end, we’d like to share a story of a life that was changed through the work of 100X and our partners–a story that we hope will remind you of the importance of this issue long after the month of January is over.

Galina is a real world example of what 100X is all about. Labeled an orphan with no hope of a future, Galina is now working to protect orphans and show them their true value. This is her story…

Hi, my name is Galina. My parents divorced when I was four years old and they split up the kids. I guess I wasn’t chosen by either parent. I was left with my grandmother. They never came to visit. They never called. They were just gone. I waited for a while but then I stopped waiting.

I never saw them again.

My grandmother was very ill and was not able to take care of me, so she put me in the orphanage. There, I was pretty much just a number. The teachers did not care about us, and everyone had to fight for their own life. Everything was old. The snow would leak inside the house. Even though we had electricity, we were afraid to use it because of the leaks. Our windows wouldn’t close properly, so we would put material over them to try to keep the cold air out. We had one fireplace for heat and we would make fires once or twice a week. We had no hot water or indoor bathrooms. We were forced to go outside and take a shower once a week.

There were twelve girls in my room, half of the beds on one side of the room and the other half on the other side. We didn’t have warm blankets, so we would sleep two girls in one bed to keep warm. We never had warm clothes or clothes to go to school in.

The worst part was we had to go to public school with the kids from the village who had families to take care of them. For us that was the hardest part. Everybody would make fun of us because they knew that nobody was there to stand up for us. Even the teachers thought of us that way. It didn’t matter how hard we put ourselves out there and studied, they didn’t give us good grades. For them, we were just orphans. They told us – “oh you will never be able to do anything because you are an orphan.” “You will end up washing doors for the rest of your life.” “There is no place for you in this world.” There was almost no point to live. It was hard not to lose hope.

The government cannot afford to run the orphanages in the summer, so they close them down and put the kids with extended family members. The kids that don’t have any family to take them are rented out to work for anyone who wants them. They are paid 80 cents a day. I started working during the summers when I was four years old. I had to weed gardens, feed chickens, and do any other jobs they would give me. No one ever came to check on us to make sure we were ok.

My life changed on December 25, 2003. On Christmas night, Philip Cameron and his family visited our orphanage, and they were the happiest people I had ever seen. We all asked each other, “do they know we’re orphans?” Philip and his family kept coming back, and they spent time telling us we were special and that God loved us. They spent time with us when no one else did. They gave us our first Christmas gifts, and celebrated our birthdays for the first time. They also created Stella’s House, a place for us to go when we had to leave the orphanage after we turned sixteen. More important than any of this, they gave us hope. Today, I’m a different person—God has healed me completely. Today, I’m able to help change the lives of others.

My story could have ended very differently. 450,000 women have disappeared from my country, and I or any other girl from Stella’s House could have been one of them. People around the world that cared enough to do something literally saved my life. God said in Matthew 25:40, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

At the age of 16, girls in Moldova “age out” of state run orphanages. They are given $30 and a bus ticket and sent back to their hometown. A lot of people who work in the orphanages sell information to human traffickers and tell them when an attractive girl is about to be released. On the day they leave, traffickers are there waiting for them. Most of the girls who are trafficked wind up as prostitutes, and often die from HIV/AIDS, drug overdoses, or they are murdered.

It is without question that many of the 450,000 women that Galina mentioned are victims of human trafficking. According to the U.S. State Department, “Moldova is a source and, to a lesser extent, a transit and destination country for women and girls subjected to sex trafficking…Moldovan women are subjected to forced prostitution in Turkey, Russia, Cyprus, Bulgaria, the UAE, Kosovo, Israel, Indonesia, Malaysia, Lebanon, Italy, Greece, Ukraine, Czech Republic, and Romania.”  With no where to go after they age out, orphaned children are highly vulnerable. Traffickers prey on this vulnerability, and children quickly disappear into this dark criminal enterprise where their value is measured solely on their contribution to the $32 billion market.

Will you give a gift today that will help us reach more girls like Galina?

*100X is a major supporter of Stella’s Voice, a nonprofit organization, and is working in partnership with them to protect orphans from human trafficking in Moldova.

We asked, they answered. Q&A with child sponsors. Part II.

In our last blog, we introduced you to two veteran child sponsors who have walked alongside 100X for many years.  Here, we would like you to meet some of our newest sponsors, and see how they are already making a great impact!

Jamie and his family began sponsoring Kizito and William six months ago, after he and his son volunteered at Mtendere in July.

What inspired you to become a sponsor? Meeting and spending time with the children at Mtendere, and seeing how successful Mtendere has been in changing children’s lives.

What does child sponsorship mean to you? Saving a child that would otherwise be in jeopardy, educating a human being, and inspiring them to reach for greatness.

What is your favorite thing about being a child sponsor? Knowing that a child is being saved from an otherwise destitute existence with little hope.

How have you involved your family in this experience? My son and I travelled to Mtendere this summer to spend a week working at the orphanage; although she did not visit with us this summer, my wife is the one that insisted that we sponsor two children. Now, our other children want to visit and work at Mtendere.

If you could share one thing with someone considering sponsoring a child, what would it be? If not for sponsors, these children don’t stand a chance; for $40 a month, you can educate, house and feed an orphan.

Teri began sponsoring Petro three months ago after traveling to Malawi with Karen (previous post) through Kusewera.

What inspired you to become a sponsor? Smiles. Each and every child in the village has a story that our hearts cannot comprehend…and each child’s smile resonates nothing but love and appreciation for the good they are now able to see, feel, and share. It is beautiful.

How do you see child sponsorship benefiting your sponsored child? The money will ensure Petro has school supplies, clothing, sufficient bedding, and toiletries. The love being given him through personal notes, concern for his well-being, and having another “safe” adult who he is able to trust is the best benefit of all and one that he will hopefully cherish as he grows.

What does child sponsorship mean to you? Being a sponsor means that I have the ability to directly and positively impact another human being without disrupting their culture and way of life. It is a simple way to say thank you for the genuine love felt in each little hand that held mine, the personal drawing one of the children took time to create, and the unbelievable beauty of their voices in song that will live with me forever .

If you could share one thing with someone considering sponsoring a child, what would it be? $40 per month ~ I make coffee at home and bring my lunch to work. I smile when I write the check to 100X, because I have seen with my own two eyes what a difference they are making in the lives of these children.

What is your favorite thing about being a child sponsor? The worst day I had last month ended with an envelope from 100X, filled with school papers from Petro. It became my best day.

Will you join us? For more information, please visit our child sponsorship page, or email Dana at DBlanchard@100XDevelopment.com.

We asked, they answered. Q&A with child sponsors. Part I.

We asked, they answered. Here is your opportunity to hear from some of our veteran child sponsors. We could not do this work without them!

Julie and Darrel have been sponsors through 100X for eight years. Their sponsored child, Ronald, is “one of the family.”

What inspired you to become a sponsor? We wanted to do more with our money to help others.

What does child sponsorship mean to you? We have developed a strong bond with Ronald that makes him feel like one of our own.

What is your favorite thing about being a child sponsor? It’s like having another member of the family.

How have you involved your family in this experience? My children and Ronald regularly exchange notes and pictures.

If you could share one thing with someone considering sponsoring a child, what would it be? The feeling you get when your sponsor child appreciates your involvement and communicates that to you. It feels good seeing them so appreciative.

Karen fell in love with the children at Mtendere Village after a trip to Malawi in 2008.  She has sponsored Stanley since 2009.

What inspired you to become a sponsor? I wanted to contribute financially to a child that I connected with at Mtendere. A year after I met Stanley, he became available for sponsorship and I grabbed the opportunity, since I knew I was meant to be his sponsor.

What does child sponsorship mean to you? Child Sponsorship means that I have made a choice to have a child at Mtendere who depends on me, who knows I care, and knows that I love them. For me, it’s an extension of what God has done for me…to be able to give back, and share that with a child who needs it. I’m particularly close with Stanley, the child I sponsor, and have been blessed to visit him often, be in touch often and also encourage him in school, life, etc. It’s been more than I could have imagined and I love that my “son” is growing every day into a man that God wants him to be.

If you could share one thing with someone considering sponsoring a child, what would it be? The financial commitment is so little compared to the huge difference that you will make in the child’s life. Knowing that you are helping with their daily needs is important, but having the connection to a real child, who really needs your assistance and really appreciates you is rewarding. I love knowing exactly who and where my monthly donation goes.

What is your favorite thing about being a child sponsor? I’ve probably said it several times over by now and there are too many favorites to pick just one…. I love connecting with a specific child, knowing their needs are being met…and I love getting to know them and them getting to know me.

Want to join the club? Visit our child sponsorship page, or email Dana at DBlanchard@100XDevelopment.com.

 

Guest Blog: Lessons

We were not the only teachers. The children taught us things that no professor could ever teach in a classroom–lessons that we will forever hold in our hearts.

As future teachers, helping children learn and succeed is one of our many passions. Arriving at the orphanage in Mtendere Village we were unsure of just how this passion would be sparked, but it quickly lit on fire and burned the whole time we were there. Some of us had spent minimal time working with children, especially directly in a classroom. This experience level quickly changed as we were divided up into different classrooms our second day at Mtendere. There were some students teaching the housemothers of the village, others in preschool age classrooms, and then others in primary or secondary aged classrooms. Every classrooms proposed challenges and situations to apply different teaching methods we had been taught all the way back at Ball State University.

Some students even had the experience of working one on one with the children at Mtendere, in an hour and half tutoring session everyday. These tutoring sessions allowed us to work on a more personal level with the children and help them individually in the area of reading. The sessions consisted of learning the level of reading our student could achieve, and work on areas such as comprehension that proved to be more difficult. The sessions not only consisted of helping the children with reading, but it also proposed opportunities to get to know and create relationships with our students.

Our time in Mtendere was spent mostly with the children; we acted as teachers to them whether it was in the classroom or playing games. We were not the only teachers. The children taught us things that no professor could ever teach in a classroom–lessons that we will forever hold in our hearts.

Bethany Thompson is an Elementary Education student at Ball State University.