Written by Alinda Charity - UPI Fellow.
It is so amazing to know that even in this generation there are young leaders who are still passionate about transforming the lives of the children in the most under-resourced communities in the world. In this case, Tinashe Saka, Sullivan Kandulu, Gibozi Mphanzi, Robert Manda, and Za Chijere are my heroes!
Two weeks ago these five leaders from Malawi (Urban Promise international affiliate ministries) flew into the States to share stories about the wonderful work taking place in Malawi . It has only been two years since theses ministries started but what has been done so far is phenomenal. They are changing the lives of children, their families, and their villages.
Tinashe the leader of RiseMalawi says, “Our program provides a full healthy meal each day of camp, we get kids to play, teach them bible verses, pray together and also help them with their homework. The kids who have been coming to our program have developed relationships with us and you can tell that they love it and that they’re very happy about what we teach them.” Tinashe is so passionate about educating young women; she says that education is the only way for young girls to be empowered to succeed in this developing world.
For the time they have been in the States, they have visited various churches, individual groups and friends, they have told stories about the ministries and for sure great work is happening in Malawi , and lives of children are being changed.
If you want to connect with them during their visit, please see our Calendar.
Niel Singh from Vancouver, British Columbia reflects on his visit to UrbanPromise Honduras...
Honduras (the country, the cities, the villages), is a mixture of beauty and stark poverty. While sightseeing, we were astounded by the history and complexity of the Mayan ruins, we were stunned by the brilliant colours of the scarlet Macaws, and we still laugh about being chased by a psycho Toucan! The people of Honduras were, without exception, full of character, insight, beauty and treated us with love, care and attention. What a wonderful people.
Spending a few days helping the UP team at Camp Hope in Nueva Esperanza was inspiring. We had so much fun with the kids, wrestling, singing and playing in unknown languages. They would roll their eyes when I couldn’t understand their Spanish, then patiently repeat what they said veerrryyyy sloooowwlly… hoping that I would catch on. We were usually able to figure each other out, and if not, there was always the universal language of smiles.
Spending time with Matt, Rachel and Blair, as well as the teenleaders and the kids – it became clear they have a vision for UrbanPromise in Honduras that is greater than one camp, and even one town. Walking the cobblestone streets of Copan, and the dirt packed streets of Nuevo Esperanza, holding the hand of a young child, looking into trusting and joyful eyes, I am excited to see where these cobblestone streets will lead.
A Franciscan Benediction
“And may God Bless you with enough foolishness
To believe that you can make a difference in the world,
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.
Visitor and supporter of UPH
It started as a beautiful day. The sky was clear and the sun brightly shining. But as the day continued to unfold, dark clouds appeared from nowhere and engulfed the once bright and blue sky. In no time, it was raining heavily.
At the same time, the AfterSchool Program was about to start. Ida Mofolo, a camp kid, had no umbrella to shield herself from the big rain drops. It was a big test for her. Since the program started, Ida has never been absent from the program. So she couldn’t let the rains to be a stumbling block to stop her from coming to camp.
Bravely, she put her note books in a plastic bag, slipped her feet into her flip-flops and started off for camp. She arrived at the camp soaked. Her feet and skirt were muddled with mud. But this wasn’t a big deal to her as evidenced by the joy on her face that she made it to the program. She spent the whole afternoon in wet clothes.
This is just one example that demonstrates how enthusiastic kids in Chilomoni are about AfterSchool Program. They are eager to learn and do not take this privilege for granted. They are utilizing every opportunity that has been given to them to grow academically and spiritually.
A Message from Sullivan Kandulu the leader of Project TEACH in Malawi!
Thomas A Kempis wrote in his book The Imitation of Christ that “The only educated man is one who has abandoned his will to do God’s will”. He continued to say that “his concern is not about what’s best for him but what’s best for others”.
At Project TEACH we run AfterSchool program, summer soccer leagues, and soccer clubs. We have been running these programs close to two years now and this have been made possible by people like you who have not put your interest first but of kids here in Malawi. Every month you pour out your support so that we run these programs. You may not be physically with us here in Malawi but with your support you are actually with us and we thank you for the lives that you are changing.
That reminds me of Mercy Mussa a 5th grade girl we have at our AfterSchool program. When Mercy was very young she became very sick and her parents and doctors thought it was malaria. She developed anemia and doctors carried out blood transfusion and later on they discovered that she also had epilepsy, leading to a learning disability. She has been repeating classes after failing final exams.
Her younger sister Caroline is in 7thgrade and before both started coming to our afterschool program, Caroline used to tutor her. Last year, Mercy failed the 1st and 2ndtrimester exams. We started working with her and we made sure that she was getting all the help she needed. To everyone’s surprise she started picking it up and was able to pass her final grade 4 exams and now she is in grade 5. Mercy is a very hard working girl and she has never missed a single day of AfterSchool program.
In the past six months we have seen the number of kids in our AfterSchool program increase from 20 to 30 kids.
P.S. The soccer clubs and leagues are also going great and we have reached out to more than 450 teens in Mulanje so far!
I arrived in Honduras on Wednesday, making it out of New Jersey just before the second big snow hit. Blair and Elias (a local businessman) met me at the airport and we took the 3 hour ride out to Copan Ruinas. Honduras is a beautiful country. It’s very green and lush. The ride to Copan was filled with beautiful scenery. When I was a child, I liked pretending that if I blinked my eyes, I would take a picture, capturing whatever scene I saw in my memory forever. On this ride, I wanted to capture a small and simple white home at the top of a small rolling hill with a foggy mountain backdrop.
Arriving in Copan Ruinas, I was impressed by the quaint town with cobblestone roads and colorful buildings. We unloaded the van and Blair and I headed to a local restaurant to meet Matt and Rachel (these are the three people initiating UrbanPromise Honduras). It has been great reconnecting with all three of them… great people enthusiastically pursuing their vision for the children of this town.
Since my arrival, I’ve been spending time with Rachel, Matt, and Blair, hearing about their progress since they launched UrbanPromise Honduras last summer and their plans for growth and development. I was also able to spend time at their AfterSchool program in Nueva Esperanza, a small area bordering Copan Ruinas. Among my favorite moments:
- Matt and Blair squawking like chickens as they taught the kids a chant called “Pollo Loco”. You may know the English version, “The Funky Chicken”.
- Rachel engulfing the kids in her hugs and their brilliant smiles that came in response.
- Watching the kids play water games where the object of the games shifts from getting your opponents wet to getting others to soak you as much as possible.
- Pouring a 24 ounce cup of water on Blair’s head to get the kids excited. They responded with a joyful chant, jumping up and down with their fists shaking.
What’s most exciting to me is to see how the UrbanPromise model is reaching another community and adapting to another culture. The kids engaged in high-energy games, songs, and activities that stimulate their academic, spiritual, and social growth. Teens are given responsibility in programs that challenges them to grow into responsible leaders in their community.
I’m excited to see how UrbanPromise Honduras grows and develops over the coming years and am encouraged in the work of UrbanPromise International as we train leaders and launch new ministries.
You can read more about the work of UrbanPromise Honduras on their blog at http://urbanpromisehonduras.wordpress.com/