Janelle brings us more!

Greetings!  I am continuing to enjoy the slower, simpler
lifestyle here in rural Malawi, it has been a welcome change from the
flustered month of May I had in the US and the usually hectic American
way of life.  I love strolling home with Tinashe through the Madisi
market and creating a meal from local produce such as tomatoes, sweet
potatoes, and bananas.  Listening to the radio, shelling peanuts from
the recent harvest, or playing cards with whichever visitors decide to
stop by has been a refreshing way to spend our evenings.  I’m even
perfecting my bucket shower and laundry techniques!

    However, things moving slower has manifested in two ways this
week that have been making me think a lot.  The first is the slower
pace of business getting done.  This is frustrating not only for me,
but also the local people who are trying to make a difference in the
community.  My approval as a hospital volunteer, Rise’s effort to
register with the Malawi NGO office, and two interns’ visa
applications are all currently victims to this difficulty.  Even Za’s
simple trip yesterday to the bank took over two hours inside!  We’ve
been having conversations about the causes and possible solutions to
this and cultural, bureaucratic, technological, and political aspects
all seem to contribute.  There was a consensus among the leaders that
this inefficiency majorly hinders efforts of development and growth in
the country. While the complexity and size of the problem can be
enough to paralyze those trying to navigate the system, I'm trying to
pray that creative and innovative solutions can be found to move
things forward for our own issues and for the future of Malawi.

    The second slow thing that has come to my attention is the pace
at which many in the community are able to move through school and
establish themselves in a career.  A hallmark of UrbanPromise
programs, the CampLeader program at Rise Ministries employs high
school students to work as counselors for the younger children.  I
have spent most of the week with the Rise team of Jen, Linda, Annette,
Chikondi, and Mpatso evaluating the past term and preparing lessons
and activities for the next term, starting Monday.  (I can’t wait -we
have lots of fun things planned and I’m realizing how much I miss
formally working with kids!)  I assumed they were mostly in their
teens due to their level in school, but I was astonished several days
into meetings to discover that I was the second youngest person in the
room at age 25!  Education has been delayed for different reasons for
each of them, but many times the poor quality or availability of
teachers and schools meant that they must repeat grade levels multiple
times before passing the exams and moving on.   Other delays have
occurred because of family or health issues that prevented the
students from attending for months at a time.  When these factors are
unfortunately coupled with a lack of expectations and encouragement,
many will never finish or reach their full potential.  This is
discouraging to see in the community, but it is promising to see the
CampLeaders eagerly working towards passing their national exams and
moving into professional schools or colleges.  Rise requires them to
be pursuing advanced education and provides the support necessary to
get there, such as tutoring, help with fees, and an encouraging staff
to bring optimism in the midst of a difficult journey.  My goal is to
add my voice and inspire others to join that chorus of hope here this
summer and in the years ahead.  Even though I sometimes get frustrated
to still be in a 'training' stage of life and not free to do medical
work yet, how humbling to be reminded of the many opportunities I have
to be thankful for that have fit into my first quarter-century of
    Thanks for reading, keep us in your prayers and I hope to share
again soon about the new term of after-school program!  ~Janelle

Picture outside Rise office after a planning session (from L-R:Tinashe
and Campleaders Annette, Jen, & Linda)


Submitted by Charity on

Janelle, thanks for sharing, we are praying for you!

Submitted by Kelly- Little F... on

6-6 And here we are at Little Falls complaining about lack of air conditioning this morning! We take so much for granted here including our education and the speed at which we move and can get things done. We marvel at your hopefulness and are inspired. Can't wait to hear how your first week has gone...of course we pray for you and Tinashe and all those youths you are reaching out to.

Submitted by Mom on

Your insights into life in Malawi are fascinating. With all of us pondering what it would be like to not have such a hectic schedule, it is refreshing to read about others with such a different life style. I can definitely see how you would want to make the most of your two months there and be frustrated by feeling you barely made a dent due to the slowness of which things happen. (Sort of like living in the South :)

Submitted by ros on

good stuff janelle!, continue to encourage everyone. remember urban promise once started out like this and look what encouragment and persistance has done for them. its frightening, the scale of obstacles that they face but having this ministry as as support network will, i believe, serve to help negotiate those obstacles when they come. continuing to pray for u. hope that first game of spit the peanut is a success! :-)