By Cosmos Mutowa, NCM Africa
What does it take to begin to improve the lives of Malawi’s rural poor? Some seeds and a cow. Some training, support, and love.
The people of the Mzimba region in northern Malawi have seen remarkable improvement to the quality of life of more than 3,000 families through the Mzimba Food Security Project, a joint project of NCM Malawi and World Vision Malawi. Started in 2007 through funds raised by Nazarene youth through the Nazarene 30 Hour Famine powered by World Vision, the project focuses on intervention and support in the following activities: fish farming, legume production, small-scale irrigation, collective farming as well as other programs.
During my recent visit to Malawi, I had the privilege of visiting some people who have benefited from this project. Mrs. Nailes Kanyinji, a widowed woman living in Shumbe village (one of the several rural villages included in the project), was one of them.
Project coordinators selected Nailes as a beneficiary because of her dire state of poverty. When her husband died, she was left with no income to live on, let alone to pay for her children’s education. Her home, a small one-room mud building with a thatch roof, was not suitable for her and her children. She had to depend entirely on the care of neighbors to sustain them.
NCM in partnership with World Vision reached out to Nailes along with others in need. They gave each family maize (a hard, dry corn that can be made into corn flour), groundnut (similar to peanut) and soya bean seed for planting as well as fertilizer. The program also gave the community a cow that they could use as draft power for plowing and offered technical support and education on proper land utilization and effective farming methods.
The first year, Nailes harvested several bags of maize, soya beans and groundnuts. She had enough to feed her family, plus surplus to sell to raise enough money to build a two-room brick house, with iron sheets for the roofing, for her family. She was also able to send her kids to school.
The following year, Nailes had another bumper harvest. Out of the proceeds, she paid back what she had received the previous year from NCM and World Vision so that the gift of transformational development could continue on to bless another family.
Nailes continues to multiply the “talents” she has been given. Through her surplus, she managed to buy a diary cow. She milks it daily to provide milk to drink for her family and to share with her neighbors. She also took me to see her small grocery shop that she built and manages. In her small store, she sells many basic items such as soap, milk and other household goods, providing a needed service to Shumbe village.
Nailes told me just how thankful she is for the help she received. In response to the gift she has been given, she is giving to others. For example, she provides food for children who are orphaned in her village and even pays the school fees for some of these children.
Nailes could not contain her joy when she told me how this project had transformed her life, the lives of her children, and the lives of the children who have been orphaned and are now under her care. The story of Nailes is one amazing story among many success stories of people whose lives have been transformed through the practical witness of the love of God through the Mzimba Food Security Project.
What is the Nazarene 30 Hour Famine?
THE FAMINE: The 30 Hour Famine is an international movement to fight hunger and poverty. The program focuses on teaching youth about hunger around the world while they fast from food for 30 hours. Youth groups stay together for those 30 hours while they participate in educational and group building activities.
Each year, more than one million young people participate, and that statistic includes many Nazarenes. For the Church of the Nazarene, monies raised within the denomination are designated to food and water projects in areas where both the Church of the Nazarene and World Vision are directly working.
THE PARTNERSHIP: Nazarene Compassionate Ministries is partnering with World Vision through the Nazarene 30 Hour Famine powered by World Vision. Nazarene congregations can participate in the Famine while helping Nazarene brothers and sisters and their communities.
THE PROJECT: All funds raised through Nazarene congregations for the past three years have gone to an NCM/World Vision partner project in the Mzimba district Malawi, Africa. When the project began in 2006, at least half the kids under age five did not get the nutrition they needed. Families in Mzimba have since received training and assistance in sustainable agricultural practices, giving them a chance at long-term food security.
FAMINE SUNDAY: After finishing the Famine, youth have the opportunity to share what they have learned with their congregations and invite them to get involved through NCM Child Sponsorship.