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.

IMPACT: Stephen

As mentioned in previous posts, when Mtendere Village opened in 2005 we had 16 orphans and one housemother.  It has been my privilege to be a “proud mama” and watch these children grow up.  I have witnessed them grow physically, change emotionally, be challenged spiritually, and excel academically.  I love each and every one of them, and as the mother of Mtendere, I have been known to brag.  I simply cannot help myself!  That leads me to Stephen Makasu.

One of the first to arrive at Mtendere, Stephen was more than a little uncertain about what his new life would look like.  He had nothing to compare it to, no one to ask for advice; he was so small, and very shy.  What a difference seven years makes!  Today, Stephen has matured into one of the strongest leaders on campus.

Stephen has led by example in the classroom, as well as on the Mtendere campus, and he instills in our younger kids the drive to be better and work harder.  Always the top student in his class at Bambino (an international school right outside of Lilongwe), he is an intelligent young man who has cultivated his strengths in language and business.

All of us at 100X were exceedingly proud when, in 2010, he finished as the number one student in his German class and was given the opportunity to travel to Germany as part of an exchange program.  Because of his leadership, we flew Stephen to the US where he represented Mtendere Village at our winter benefit.    It is our hope that Stephen will be our first (but not the last) international collegiate student from Mtendere!

On their recent trip to Malawi, Dr. Rick Cook and other Auburn University faculty had the pleasure of meeting Stephen.  Afterward, they shared with me that they were beyond impressed with his confident, yet respectful demeanor.  Of course, my heart swelled with pride!

Through his hard work and commitment, Stephen has been able to participate in experiences that, prior to Mtendere Village, he could not even hope or imagine.  His life exemplifies what we want all of our kids to experience.

Stephen and I both know that much of this would not have been possible without the support of his sponsors, the Knight family.  In addition to financial sponsorship, they have encouraged Stephen through letters and have even traveled to Malawi to meet him.  Because of their dedication to our sponsorship program, the Knights have changed the life of Stephen Makasu.  I am so thankful for them, and for all of our sponsors who help our children achieve their dreams.  Without them, 100X would not be able to care for the 140 children who call Mtendere “home.”  So, we thank you!

If you’d like to join our family of sponsors, visit our Child Sponsorship page, or email Sponsor@100XDevelopment.com for more information.  We’d love to have you!

Dana Blanchard, Director of Operations for Malawi       

What is your fight?

I was in my junior year of undergrad when I first watched the movie Hotel Rwanda—a movie that detailed the story of Paul Rusesabagina and his experience during the Rwandan genocide.  If you haven’t seen it, I recommend a visit to your rental company of choice.

No matter how many times I view the movie, one scene stands out above all others.  The scene begins with Rusesabagina thanking Jack Daglish, a cameraman, for shooting footage of the massacre.

Rusesabagina: I am glad that you have shot this footage and that the world will see it. It is the only way we have a chance that people might intervene.  

Daglish: Yeah and if no one intervenes, is it still a good thing to show?

Rusesabagina: How can they not intervene when they witness such atrocities?

Daglish: I think if people see this footage they’ll say, “oh my God that’s horrible,” and then go on eating their dinners.

I do not know if this conversation portrays an actual conversation between Rusesabagina and Nick Hughes (the man who shot the footage accredited to the fictional Daglish), or if it was scripted for cinematic purposes, but what I do know is that what was predicted came to pass.

In less than 100 days, while families in the US and other developed countries sat down for dinner, 800,000 Rwandans were slaughtered.

The Rwandan Genocide is just one example.  Every day, we see evidence of suffering—whether it is walking by a homeless man on the street, viewing a 30 second clip on the evening news, or reading a blog like this one.  The enormity of it all is overwhelming.

  • 26,500 children die every day of preventable causes related to poverty (equivalent to 100 jetliners crashing)
  • 500,000 women die in childbirth every year – deaths that are largely preventable
  • 12.3 million people are trafficked for commercial sex or forced labor
  • 163 million children are orphans

This constant bombardment is numbing and often causes us to say, “oh my, that is horrible,” and then go on living our lives.  We erroneously believe that because we cannot solve the entire problem, there is nothing for us to do.

I firmly believe that there are some battlefields that I am not called to fight on.  For example, if the issue involves environment or animal rights issues, please call someone else.  I don’t have the capacity.  That said, I also believe that everyone should pick a fight.  It will be different for everyone, but we all have something that should take us away from our dinners.

I recently met a man who spent several years of his young life as a house slave.  When he was 12 years old, someone intervened.  He was able to attend school for the first time.  Throughout his life, people continued to come alongside and support him.  He finished university, married and developed a successful career.  Today, this man and his wife have established an orphanage to care for similarly vulnerable children.  He has picked his fight.

At 100X we’ve seen similar stories with children like Andiseni and Galina, and our house mom Naomi. The people who intervened didn’t eliminate human trafficking or world hunger, but they did dramatically change one life.  That is what it takes.  If each of us will navigate our way through the deluge of statistics, pick our fight, and find the one life that we can influence, we will be able to press back against the darkness.

What is your fight?  If it is orphan care, education, human trafficking prevention, or health, we’d love for you to join us!

Kimberly CaseySpecial Assistant and Program Manager

One Day Without Shoes 2012

Regardless of your cause or your passion, we hope that ODWS inspires you to think about the world in a different way, and to believe that even one off-beat idea can bring people together to create something positive.

– Blake Mycoskie, Founder of TOMS Shoes

Imagine for a moment what it would be like to walk barefoot everyday.  How would it impact your daily life?  Today is TOMS’ One Day Without Shoes and they’re asking everyone to step out of their shoes in solidarity of the children who are growing up barefoot, and our team at 100X has decided to join them.

Hundreds of millions of children are at risk of injury and soil-transmitted diseases such as jiggers and ringworm because they do not have proper protection for their feet.  A large portion of those children are also not allowed to attend school simply because shoes are part of the required uniform.

Have you ever counted the number of shoes in your closet?  It isn’t something that I normally keep track of, but I thought it would be helpful to have some perspective as I prepared for today.  After scanning my closet—and grabbing the pair of pumps I kicked off in the living room—I had a number.  31.  I could officially go an entire month without wearing the same pair of shoes.

All things considered, I think I’ll take the $39 I budgeted for a new pair of flats and put it towards something a little more valuable.  What’s your number?

Want to get involved? Our programs provides shoes, and so much more!

Kimberly Casey, Special Assistant and Program Manager

The Heart of Mtendere Village

If you ever have the chance to visit Mtendere Village – you will quickly realize that our program for orphans and vulnerable children would not be possible without the dedication and care of our “housemothers.”  They are the glue that holds everything together – they are the heart of Mtendere Village.

Given the high number of orphans and the prevalence of domestic violence against women in Malawi, it is not surprising that many of our housemothers have a history that includes these elements.  The stories of neglect and abuse are devastating, but I cannot help but smile at the redemptive power of their stories.  Once broken themselves, these women understand the pain evident in the eyes of every abused child that is brought into the Mtendere family—an understanding that is critical to breaking through the protective facades and helping our children find healing. To provide insight, I’d like to introduce one of our housemothers.

Naomi was orphaned as a child, and in order to survive, she traveled from village to village to complete odd jobs in exchange for food.  When that wasn’t enough, which it rarely was, she begged others for help.  She lived on the street, had no protection from those who would take advantage, and was never quite sure where her next meal would come from.  School was never an option, and Naomi never learned to read or write.

She did eventually marry, and she and her husband had five children.  Sadly, her husband died and Naomi could no longer afford to send her children to school.  The cycle of illiteracy and poverty, it seemed, would continue indefinitely.

When Naomi heard about Mtendere Village, she came to us and asked for a job.  We quickly realized that she would be a wonderful addition to Mtendere Village, and we offered her a position as a housemother.

Because of her new job, Naomi was able to afford the school fees to send her youngest child to high school.  Now that she is a grandmother, she sends money to her children to help make certain that her grandchildren are able to attend school.  Naomi’s love and compassion for others is evident in everything that she does, and she is always the first to help others fulfill their dreams.  Witnessing this, our team at 100X could not help but want to do something to help her achieve a lifelong dream.

Each time Naomi received her paycheck, she stamped her thumbprint to acknowledge the payment.  This was not the result of some sophisticated identification technique, but was done because Naomi had never learned how to write her own name.  With the help of Phyllis Collins, a volunteer teacher from the US, we began tutoring Naomi in reading and writing.  After three months, I witnessed Naomi sign her name in my payroll book for the first time in her life!  The joy for both of us was immense!

It is beautiful to see Naomi, an orphan who spent her childhood living and begging on the streets, loving and caring for other orphaned children, and it has been a privilege to walk alongside her and see her realize a dream she had abandoned any hope of achieving.

Dana Blanchard, Director of Operations for Malawi               Support Mtendere Village

Getting Creative for Education

We can all remember moments in life when we experience something that takes our breath away and leaves us speechless….for me, most of these moments happen when I am in Malawi.

Receiving new children at Mtendere Village is always bittersweet.  When they arrive, I see eyes filled with vacancy, distrust, hurt, anger, anxiety and sadness.  Their only belongings are the tattered clothes on their backs and caked mud on their feet.  Then the transition begins.  They go from having almost nothing to eating three meals a day, having a house and bed, numerous clothing options, and the opportunity to attend school.

One of the first things we do when a school-aged child arrives at Mtendere is determine their education status.  The reality is that many of the children, even those aged 10-12, do not know the alphabet, and we often need to find creative ways to help them “catch up.”  Our staff at 100X and Mtendere Village is committed to working with each child to grow in knowledge just like we hope they will grow physically.

As you can probably imagine, just like any country, there is room for improvement in the educational system in Malawi.  In a school where there are 1,973 students registered, and over 75 students per teacher, the need to produce more teachers with higher education is an immense one.  Most classes meet outside, under a tree, with the chalkboard leaning up against it as their “classroom” setting.  The sight of these classes spread all around campus can be overwhelming.  All of our children attend local school and participate in after-school tutoring at Mtendere to help them reach their education goals.

One of the fun ways we encourage our children’s progression in academics and excitement about education is through the many “teams” that visit Mtendere Village each summer.  100X is proud to partner with Ball State University and Auburn University’s education programs to help ensure that our children have extra opportunities for learning.  These teams partake in classroom teaching, teacher workshops, and one-on-one tutoring, as well as some evaluation and research of the local school systems in Malawi.  Their passion and excitement is a great way to engage our children, and their love of learning is often contagious.

At 100X, we’re excited about creating a better environment for a more productive education for the Mtendere children, as well as for all kids and teachers of Malawi, and we are constantly working to leverage our resources to benefit the children under our care.  We all know the importance of school—that education lays a foundation that an individual can build on for the rest of his or her life—and every day we see our children progressing to a more hopeful future.

If you have questions about our education program in Malawi, you can email us at Info@100XDevelopment.com, or if you’d like to donate to our education fund, please click here.

Thanks so much for your support and interest in helping improve the education of young people in Malawi!

Dana Blanchard, Director of Operations for Malawi


Earlier this month, 100X was invited by the National Council of Women of the US to share about our experience working to develop innovative programs to support women in rural settings—specifically in Malawi.  Hosted at the United Nations, the panel entitled, “The Challenges of Rural Women: United States and Africa” also included Ambassador Brian Bowler, Malawi Ambassador to the UN, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-3), and other development experts. Included below is a sampling of what Terri Hasdorff, Vice President of 100X, shared.

In Malawi, the Chichewa word for pregnancy, Wapakati, also means 50-50. In a country with only 16 obstetricians serving a population of over 16 million, and with 46% of deliveries not attended by a skilled healthcare worker (nurse or midwife), complications that are easily treatable in a more developed country have devastating results. Consequently, one in 36 women in Malawi die from pregnancy related complications.  One in 36 wives, mothers, and daughters dying from largely preventable causes.

To put this in perspective, 42% of all pregnancies across the globe—even in highly developed countries—experience a complication.  In 15% of all pregnancies worldwide, these complications are life threatening.  Yet, fewer than one in 14,840 women will die in pregnancy or childbirth in the top-ten ranked countries.  Malawi on the other hand has the 11th highest infant mortality rate in the world.

Knowing this, it is easy to understand why the women of Malawi have adopted such a word to describe what should be considered a joyous and life-giving event.

At 100X, we believe that maternal death and infant mortality rates can be dramatically reduced with education and medical support.  In every program that we develop, we look for ways to partner with the private sector, universities and technology providers so that there is no question that interventions are both efficient and effective.

We are proud to have strong university partnerships to assist us with our development goals.  Auburn University, located in Alabama, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with 100X, and has committed to partner with us to develop a nursing student exchange program in Malawi.  We have also constructed a brand new, state of the art hospital, Blessings Hospital, just outside Lilongwe, Malawi that is centrally located and ready to serve the villages and rural areas nearby.  This hospital will mean the difference between life and death for many women and children living in Malawi.

Through mobile clinics and village-based education programs, we will also have the ability to reach those who would not traditionally seek care in a hospital setting.  The benefit of this model is the direct link between mobile clinics and Blessings Hospital.

In addition, 100X is working to develop onsite health pregnancy training that will create a place where pregnant women will learn to practice better hygiene, nutrition and avoid unsafe practices, along with screenings for high-risk pregnancy.

By embracing partnerships and working directly with local communities, we are working to change the definition of Wapakati, and transform pregnancy from a time of uncertainty and loss to one of great celebration.

Our goal is to change the lives of women and children in Malawi…won’t you help us?

Terri Hasdorff, Vice President

Exposing Evil to Protect the Innocent

Human trafficking is an uncomfortable reality that many would prefer not to think about in America and other parts of the world.  I understand this discomfort, but I also believe that evil must be exposed.  It is for that reason, on the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, I want to shine a spotlight on this terrible modern day exploitation of women and children.

Definition: Human Trafficking is modern-day slavery.  Article 3, paragraph (a) of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons defines Trafficking in Persons as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.

Fast Facts

  • An estimated 12.3 million men, women and children are trafficked for commercial sex or forced labor around the world.
  • Approximately 80 percent of human trafficking victims are women and girls, and up to 50 percent are minors.
  • Worldwide, there are nearly two million children in the commercial sex trade.
  • Trafficking is estimated to be $32 billion industry—the second largest criminal enterprise (drugs is the first).

Trafficking is about supply and demand.  To meet the demand for young women who can be sold into slavery and prostitution, criminal networks (such as the mob) traffick young girls from poor Eastern European countries like Moldova, Bulgaria, and the Ukraine (“source” countries) to “destination” countries with higher demand.  With a promise of a better life and good jobs, girls are often deceived into crossing borders willingly.  When they arrive however, they are not brought to an office or a restaurant to work, but to a brothel.

We could talk at length about geopolitical, social, and economic factors, all of which are important, but anti-trafficking advocates have elevated a simple need in this fight—Awareness. As one advocate said recently, “Awareness is 80% of the solution.”  80% of the solution is exposing the evil that is happening right now and providing positive alternatives.

Every year 700-800 children are expelled from State-run orphanages in Moldova. Upon leaving, they are often only given a few dollars and a bus ticket to the town listed on their birth certificate.  They are alone, and have nowhere to go.  They are perfect victims for a trafficker to exploit for financial gain.

Six years ago, 100X developed a partnership with Stella’s Voice, an organization in Moldova working to protect at-risk orphans. Stella’s works to educate orphans about the dangers of trafficking and provides them with a safe home where they receive loving care and an education.  To date, 100X has built three homes and we have the capacity to house approximately 60 children at a time.  But we need to do so much more….

We know that approximately 99% of trafficking victims are never rescued, so preventing children from becoming victims is the first step in ending this travesty.  To reach more children, we’re in the process of building another home in Moldova, one that will be focused on prevention as well as job training, education and providing a safe place for this vulnerable population.  Phillip Cameron, the founder of Stella’s Voice, has said that he never again wants to be limited by lack of space, and I am in firm agreement.  But we cannot do this alone!

Will you help us protect one more?

What you can do
Speak Up—post a message on Facebook or Twitter, send an email, talk to your co-workers and legislators.
Give—we want to reach as many young girls as possible, and we cannot do it alone.
Pray—pray for the girls, for those working to help them, and for exposure of those who are exploiting them.

12.3 million is a daunting number, but what if you could rescue one?  To quote Edmund Burke, “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”

–John Blanchard, Co-Founder and President of the Board of Directors

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.