Mtendere Stories: Tea Time

Some of my favorite memories involve gathering at the table for 4’oclock Tea Time.There is something special about the soothing taste of honey lemon Chombe tea and the delicious fresh baked bread bought from the local bakery; but mostly, the best part of Tea Time is the company that joins at the table, or on the porch, or under a tree to share stories and laughter.
 
At Mtendere, there are 16 house mothers, and I am almost always tempted to plan my visits to each house mid afternoon so I can slip in just in time for Tea Time. Mama Ruth usually has a bowl of popcorn kept away to treat the kids as they trickle in from afternoon classes. Occasionally, Mama Kita has her little mbaula-stove smoking away as she boils some milk to make some creamy sweet tea. As you approach Mama Alice’s house, you could smell the savory aroma of roasted sweet potatoes and right next-door Mama Loveness will be tenderly fixing some slices of bread for her little ones. Across the campus, you could hear Mama Naomi ardently calling in her older boys as she fixes them a treat she had hidden away all day. You can find Mama Eunice showing off her amazing baking skills as she bakes her yeast scones outside in the sun while little gleaming eyes and watery mouths eagerly linger around her. Bless Mama Loyce; her Tea Time is very unpredictable. Mama Loyce has a handful of little energetic boys, and almost without fail, she will be trying to straighten them out while hollering at them to wash their grubby little hands and feet before they enter the house.
 
During this whole time, as school breaks off and the children walk back home or play on the grounds, laughter and joy fills the air. There is an open invitation in each house to sit down together, to discuss and digest the day while we commune together and happily fill our bellies.
 
Tea Time fills my soul; it slows me down, reconnects me to the heart matters, and reminds me how special and unique each person at Mtendere is.
By Christina Govati

World Orphan Day

World Orphan Day

Today is World Orphan Day. This is an international day dedicated to recognizing and rescuing the orphans around the world. According to UNICEF, at least 153 million children worldwide have lost one or both of their parents. Once left without parents or other relatives who are able to adequately care for them, these children become incredibly vulnerable to hunger, sickness abuse, and even death.

Andiseni, a boy who now lives at Mtendere Children’s Village, is just one of these 153 million children around the world who became an orphan early on in life. His mother died while giving birth to him and his father, who was too sick to take care of him, would often forget to feed him. When Andiseni was brought to Mtendere, he was so thin and sick that his new family in the Village was afraid he might not live. By the grace of God, Andiseni was able to recover and is now a healthy and thriving young boy who is attending the fourth grade.

Andiseni when he first arrived at Mtendere 2005Andiseni when he first came to Mtendere Village as an infant

 

DSC07321Andisen now, as a healthy, happy boy living at Mtendere Village

God is so in love with the orphans of the world. Every single one of them, like Andiseni, is handcrafted by him to love him and be loved by him in a unique and personal way. This is why God’s children, who love Jesus and follow Him, are commanded to care for orphans and make it a priority to rescue them in any way possible. James 1:27 tells us, “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.” God is looking for people who will see the orphaned children of the world the way He sees them and who will love them like He loves them. This touches His heart more than all the church services and religious gatherings in the world.

As the world begins to recognize orphans through days like World Orphan Day, the Church that Jesus created to fill the world with His light and love, is rising up even more to love and rescue these desperate and hurting children. We pray that God will fill your heart with His love for the orphans of the world and that He will guide you in how to join Him in rescuing and redeeming them and to bringing them to Himself. We know that, ultimately, God is the father of the fatherless (Psalm 68:5) and will rescue and defend these precious children. We only want to join Him where He is and do the things that He is doing. God bless you as you love Him and follow Him into the lives of the orphans in your corner of the world.

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.

Trick or treat for kids around the world

 

It is the element of surprise that makes Halloween such an enjoyable time for many children. Dressing up in fun costumes, screams and scares, running around the neighborhood on a school night and collecting candy is all about the Trick or Treating fun.

As the Halloween excitement builds all around, students of the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance from Auburn University Montgomery (AUM), organized the third annual “trick or treat” drive in their neighborhoods–a tradition started by Roselyne Bosco, now a graduate of AUM.

But, unlike the children in search of sweets, these students asked for a more nontraditional treat. Dressed up in their orange and black school colors, 10 students and two profressors took on the task of going door to door to collect hygiene items and school supplies. As this was quite an unusual ask, with permission through the neighborhood association at Sturbridge Plantation, students of the NPLA sent out flyers to every home allowing them to prepare for a different type of trick or treating to benefit children in our own community and across the globe.

This year, thanks to the effort of these students and the generosity of the community, we will be able to provide hygiene items and school supplies to children at Mtendere at Mtendere Village (Malawi) and Adullam House (Wetumpka, Alabama). We are very grateful!

Christina Kadzamira, Program Assistant

 

100X is invited to Participate in Anti-Slavery Day in the UK

Pictured L to R: Philip Cameron (Stella’s Voice), Mr. Anthony Steen (Chairman of the Human Trafficking Foundation), Rt Hon John Bercow (Speaker of the House of Commons), Mr. Peter Bone (Member of Parliament; Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Human Trafficking), Lindy Blanchard, and John Blanchard.

In 1833, the British Parliament abolished slavery in (most of) the British Empire via the Slavery Abolition Act.  Thirty-two years later, the 13th Amendment outlawed slavery and involuntary servitude in the United States.  According to our laws, both countries do not sanction slavery. We thought slavery was abolished in the 19th century, yet today there are tens of thousands of people enslaved in these two countries alone.

Frederick Douglas, a former slave and abolitionist said, “They would not call it slavery, but some other name. Slavery has been fruitful in giving herself names … and it will call itself by yet another name; and you and I and all of us had better wait and see what new form this old monster will assume, in what new skin this old snake will come forth.” He was right. Today we call it “human trafficking,” and once again, we must expose this practice and declare it unacceptable.

We are grateful that there are leaders in both the US and the United Kingdom that are working to protect victims and prevent children from being traded as commodities, and last week, we were privileged to stand beside some of them.

Just this past week, by invitation from the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Right Honorable John Bercow and Mr. Peter Bone, a Member of Parliament and Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Human Trafficking, 100X Founders John and Lindy Blanchard traveled to the UK to mark Anti-Slavery Day.  Over the course of two days, they attended the Parliamentarians Against Human Trafficking Conference and met with leaders from Parliament and the Council of Europe to discuss how we can leverage our resources and work together to end human trafficking across the globe.  It is evident that these leaders are committed to this fight, and we are honored to stand with them with great expectation of what is to come.

WHAT WE’RE DOING TO PROTECT CHILDREN FROM HUMAN TRAFFICKING

Human trafficking is the second largest global organized crime today—generating $31.6 billion annually.  Each year more than 1.5 million children are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor, and it is estimated that 99% are never rescued.  The innocence of childhood is exchanged for the profit of others.  This is a crime that knows no boundaries—whether geographic, ethnic, or socio-economic—but the most vulnerable are those who have no one to speak for them.  On five continents, we are working on the front lines to prevent children from falling victim to this horrific crime.

Protection and Empowerment. To date, we have partnered with nonprofits across the globe to build 31 houses for orphans and vulnerable children, and in 2011, more than 500 children were reached. Each of our programs provides a safe and loving home environment where children are able to complete their education and learn life skills that will provide the foundation for a hopeful and productive future.  Our work protects the most vulnerable children by providing access to caring adults, educational support, health care and job training.

We recognize that entrapment in human trafficking is often the result of poverty and lack of resources, so we have also established a consortium of university partners who are working with us to develop education and workforce development programs, as well as opportunities for continued education at the university level.

Education and Mobilization.  In a speech before the House of Commons in 1791, William Wilberforce stated, “You may choose to look the other way but you can never again say you did not know.” We are committed to exposing the evil of human trafficking, and providing resources for those who choose not to look away. The criminal network working to ensure the continuation of this exploitation is strong, and complete abolition will require engagement at all levels—from students to heads of State.

5 WAYS YOU CAN HELP END HUMAN TRAFFICKING

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.

The Definition of Nursing

What is nursing?  Nursing is the protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response, and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, communities, and populations.

To be a nurse, or to study to become a nurse means that an individual must encompass a desire to help others in a holistic way.  Being a nurse means caring for someone physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and medicinally:  in other words, to care for the mind, body and soul.

In my most recent trip to Malawi, I was privileged to witness these definitions of nursing first hand.

Let me back up a little.  As most of you may know, after being an RN in the ICU for over three years,  I have recently transitioned into a full-time job at 100X Development where I will coordinate various nursing projects to help improve the healthcare system in Malawi.  One of the first ways that 100X moved forward in improving healthcare delivery was by developing a consortium of universities, both stateside and in Malawi.  Auburn University (my alma mater) and Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN) in Malawi, two leaders in the development of improving the nursing standards both in the classroom and at the bedside, were among the first to join.

One of the most obvious ways to get this started was to send a group of US nursing students to Malawi to work alongside Malawian students–we knew this would stretch, mold and challenge students in a way that far outreaches ANY lesson that can be taught in a classroom.  By traveling to a developing nation where needs are overwhelming and resources are scarce, students would be pushed to the brink of communicating beyond just words, to think beyond the medicine and the machines, and treat over 100 people in a matter of a few hours.

Auburn University School of Nursing (AUSON), under the guidance of Dr. Constance Smith-Hendricks, was ready to meet this challenge head-on, and Kamuzu College of Nursing, under the leadership of Madam Address Malata, welcomed the idea of hosting a group of students that would also provide a new learning experience for her students.

So on September 7, Dr. Hendricks, Dana Blanchard, eight nursing students and I departed for what would be one of the greatest learning experiences any student could ever imagine.  Over the next 10 days, these students witnessed more need and poverty than one could think of.  They treated anywhere from 550 to 700 (hard to keep track of the exact number due to the large crowds) women, children and babies.  Their skills, knowledge and perseverance was challenged as the crowds lined up to wait for hours to see an American nurse, and yet they responded with professionalism and grace.

The AUSON students also experienced the challenges of being a college student in a developing nation by being partnered with a nursing student from KCN. The relationships formed between these student pairs was just another positive outcome in one of the most successful and educational trips that 100X has ever taken part in.  As the days of the trip continued to pass by, the students were able to experience clinical settings ranging from home-based care out in straw-roofed huts, to rural clinics in the middle of villages, a health care center, and even some time in a labor and delivery ward.

The eight student nurses who travelled to Malawi with me were truly impressive young ladies.  While their eyes were opened to an entire new setting of healthcare and a totally new definition of “need”, it was their souls that were touched by the people of Malawi.  They will without a doubt be some of the best-prepared nursing graduates, but even more so, they will be part of forever changing the health care system in a country that so desperately needs a positive change.

Nursing care comes in many forms.  Sometimes it is the ability to make someone feel physically comfortable by various means.  Other times it is the ability to improve the body’s ability to achieve or maintain health.  But often it is an uncanny yet well honed knack to see beyond the obvious and address, in some way, the deeper needs of the human soul. 

~Donna Wilk Cardillo, A Daybook for Beginning Nurses

Katie Sanderson, Program Director for Nursing Education