A harvest in the middle of the hunger season, unheard of. But it is happening!
Each year during January, February, and March there is a time known as the hunger season in Malawi. During these months people run out of food. The hunger season is a time of the year when people are literally starving for something, anything, to eat. The harvest they enjoyed during the Spring has been consumed. The Summer months are hot and there is no rain, so planting during those months is not possible. Traditionally people plant again in December when the rains are beginning to come, but it is April before those crops are normally ready to harvest. Thus, the season of hunger.
This February is different. Last Fall with the help of some generous donors, Y-Malawi purchased and began experimenting with solar water pumps. These pumps allowed two Chiefs to plant during early November. The temperature was blazing hot, but the fields were hoed, and seed put into the soil. Then the solar water pumps took over. They brought water from nearby ponds to the fields where the maize had been planted. They also brought water to a grove of banana trees that typically don’t provide fruit until later in the year. There were some challenges, and some lessons learned, but the plants grew.
This past week the harvesting began, not in April but in February! In the heart of the hunger season! These two Chiefs have proved that a harvest can be achieved during the hunger season. They have demonstrated hunger does not need to be a season.
With the lessons learned Y-Malawi is working to purchase more solar powered pumps so that more Chiefs can plant and provide for their people during the hunger season. Yet, this isn’t just about hunger. This is about sharing the love of Jesus. More communities are asking Y-Malawi to come help them everyday. They see what is happening, they know Y-Malawi is there to share the gospel message. They are ready to become self-sustaining. They are hungry not only for food, but for the hope that comes from knowing Jesus.
Did you know that Y-Malawi has earned the esteemed Platinum Seal of Transparency? This is the highest level of recognition offered by GuideStar a financial accountability monitor, and a service of Candid.
By sharing metrics that highlight progress Y-Malawi is making toward its mission, the organization is helping donors move beyond simplistic ways of nonprofit evaluation such as overhead ratios. “In accordance with our long-held belief in being transparent about our work, we are excited to convey our organization’s results in a user-friendly and highly visual manner,” said Executive Director Larry Hall. “In addition, by updating our GuideStar Nonprofit Profile to the Platinum level, we can now easily share a wealth of up-to-date organizational metrics with our supporters and GuideStar’s immense online audience.”
To reach the Platinum level, Y-Malawi added extensive information to its Nonprofit Profile on GuideStar: basic contact and organizational information; in-depth financial information; qualitative information about goals, strategies, and capabilities; and quantitative information about results and progress toward its mission. By taking the time to provide this information, Y-Malawi has demonstrated its commitment to transparency and to giving donors and funders meaningful data to evaluate nonprofit performance.
Take a few minutes and visit Y-Malawi on GuideStar. Use the link below to go directly there and investigate for yourself. We are thrilled that our GuideStar Platinum Nonprofit Profile and its associated benefits that can help us better communicate the exciting initiatives God has given us to share the love of Jesus and help the most vulnerable in Malawi.
Click to visit Y-Malawi on Guidestar
Our Vocational Training Center in Nkhotakota is continuing to grow. Since opening, the center has graduated almost 150 students in carpentry and tailoring skills. These graduates can now begin their own businesses and use the skills they have learned to become self-sustaining in life.
God has blessed this center and more students want to attend. We hope to expand soon into welding and tin work, jewelry, and even fashion design. An on-site store has opened so that students can sell goods they are making to community and visitors. Our hopes, dreams, and prayer is that we can further expand to a snack bar for students, community, and those passing by.
To do all this, especially during the pandemic, the center needed water. At first, we tried to dig our own well, but after some time and effort, it became clear that more professional help was required. God provided an answer to our prayers through a church in La Jolla, California. A professional drilling company was hired. After drilling about 2,000 feet down, water started to bubble up from the ground. Then a geyser and eureka, we had water!
Now tanks and solar pumps are being completed to provide access to clean, drinking and washing water for students and visitors. The photo shows the progression of this process. Water is one of the first things mentioned in creation, everything living depends on it. In developed countries sometimes we forget what a valuable, even essential commodity water can be. We are so grateful to now have this resource. It proves once again how faithful God is and reminds us of 2 Corinthians 9:8, “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
Throughout most of 2020 cases of COVID-19 were minimal in Malawi. Early in the pandemic, the government reacted quickly putting response measures in place that were impactful. By the end of 2020, with a population of 18 million people, Malawi had experienced less than 6,000 cases and fewer than 200 deaths.
That changed near the very end of 2020 as cases began to rise rapidly. It is speculated that infections spread from South Africa over the border into Malawi. Cases have risen sharply each day since January 1. At the time of this writing, there are more than 20,000 cases and more than 600 deaths. That is a 230% increase that occurred in fewer than 30 days. Note also that testing remains primarily available in the larger cities, while the majority of population lives in rural areas. Therefore, the reported cases likely do not reflect the full impact of the pandemic yet.
In response the government has again taken quick action. Schools have closed. Curfews have been put into place on markets, shops, food and drink establishments. Masks are required to be worn under penalty of fines. The government has also increased the number of testing locations, but these are limited primarily to the larger metro areas.
So far, the strategy seems to be having some impact. Infection rates have begun to decline, and vaccines are expected to arrive (minimal quantities) in March. Even so, there have been several deaths of high-profile people. Names everyone in the county knows, government officials and religious leaders. The result is that the people in rural areas are afraid. They reason, “If these people cannot survive, what hope do I have.”
Y-Malawi is responding while following strict precautionary and safety measures. We have installed hundreds of wash stations out in the villages, given out thousands of masks, and integrated education about COVID prevention into every program.
Some organizations and ministries have made the decision to scale back during this crisis. But what if like the story of Esther in the Bible, God has placed us here at this very time and place, for just such a time as this? Throughout history, followers of Jesus have always been the ones to respond when people are in trouble. It is when people are fearful that they need Jesus most.
Instead, we are moving forward, one step, one day at a time and in constant prayer. Already God is using this unique time in history for His glory. Please pray with us that He will use Y-Malawi and our partners as we seek to minister to the most vulnerable and share the love of Jesus at a time when they need it the most.
It was crazy how many things had to be done differently during 2020. That got us to thinking, why don’t we do something different for our 2020 Annual Report? So we did.
The end result is an hour long movie about the amazing things God is doing through Y-Malawi. The movie will take you into a home in the village. You will learn more about what is happening with churches, children, youth, Chiefs, and women and girls. You will get to see a graduation at the vocational training center. You will even make a visit to the store where student made goods are sold. You will hear and see lots of singing and dancing. Along the way you will get a brief glimpse into how God is changing lives in Malawi.
The movie is on the Y-Malawi YouTube Channel. To watch the movie in high definition, use your television and Y-Malawi on YouTube. You will find Come and See under the category of programs and progress. If you must use your computer or tablet to watch, you can just click on the button below to get direct access.
What God is doing in Malawi is hard to capture in words. We hope you will take the time to watch. Get yourself some popcorn and a drink, then sit back in your most comfortable chair. Even better gather the family together to watch. We promise, if you take the time, you won’t be disappointed.
When you do watch, please consider subscribing to our channel and be sure to leave us a comment to let us know what you think.
Now off to 2021 we go!
Click here to watch the movie Come and See
“Seeing is believing.” The 17th century pastor Thomas Fuller was the first to use that phrase. Most people don’t know that what he really said was, “Seeing is believing, but feeling is truth.”
I have just returned from three weeks Malawi. From first-hand experience I can tell you that what God is doing there left me not only believing God is on the move in this world, but feeling His truth is more powerful than ever.
Incredible things are happening in Malawi. What God is accomplishing goes way beyond the prayers and dreams we had when this all began just a few short years ago. It would take pages to share everything God is doing. Let me share just three areas of praise.
- Love is winning. There is new hope in the air. People are beginning to believe that they can accomplish more. They are learning that they were created for more than poverty, dependence, and despair. Women are attending Bible Studies and Change Me programs in large numbers. They are learning to read and write. They are engaging in Village Savings and Loans groups learning about handling money. They are establishing Mother Groups counseling and loving young girls out of early marriages and away from abuses. Youth groups are studying the Bible too, but their activities don’t stop there. They are working together raising fish and growing acres of rice. Their goal is not just to earn money for their clubs, but to provide for those who are hungry. To help girls stay in school by paying their school fees. To buy tools for others to start businesses, and to provide books for younger students who need tutoring after school. They are demonstrating love to their community.
- Economic empowerment is exploding. New programs to provide training and capital to start new businesses may have started as a smoldering ember, but it is now burning flame! Veronica, a single mother planted an entire rice field on her own. Today she is selling rice to Y-Malawi to feed the hungry in her community at a fair price. Chimwemwe, too old to work the fields anymore, now has a small store providing goods for her neighbors and friends. Others have planted fields of watermelon, pineapple and tomatoes that are producing profits and feeding the hungry. Just this month 29 more graduated from vocational training and starting businesses in tailoring, carpentry and jewelry. People are literally starting new businesses every day! Like the smell of a fragrant rose, the air is filled with the scent new success.
- God is reaching out to those who do not know Him. Chiefs are making decisions to follow Jesus. They are building Bible Study Centers. They are asking for Bibles for their people. Areas that were previously closed to the gospel are now open. People who had no knowledge of Jesus before are now pleading to hear the good news. Churches are reaching out to their communities in unique and bold ways, and people are responding. In one area previously self-designated as a “no go zone” and known for witchcraft and wickedness, nearly 1,000 have now made decisions to follow Jesus.
One Senior Chief who recently became a Christian said, “I was born here, I know what this place was like. It is hard to believe this is really happening. The entire feeling of this place is changing from the inside out.”
Surely Fuller had it right. Seeing really is believing, and you really can feel truth. God is clearly on the move in Malawi. You can see it and you can feel it.
2020 is almost at an end. It has been a year like none of us can remember. Yet, it has been a year of great accomplishment too. Words cannot express how grateful we are for your prayers, encouragement, and giving. Please know that God is using you in a mighty way to literally change the world. We pray God may bless you in return and are wishing you a prosperous and faith filled 2021.
Larry Hall, Executive Director