Men in Ministry the Children of Malawi, Africa
Fall in Love With Every Child
Painting the Picture
We all have a heart for children. As Men in Ministry we need to broaden the view of children situation in much of the world. Let me begin by painting a picture. The children, of Malawi, Africa, are beautiful. They play like children anywhere in the world. Every child seems to play soccer. They are polite always addressing the adults with respect. The children have little in the way of food, clothing or belongings of any type. They always seemed to be happy. This is the picture that is painted from a mission trip visit in August 2011 to Lilongwe, Malawi Africa. We spent the majority of time in the rural areas around the city of Lilongwe.
God Loves All the Children
Fifty percent of Malawians live below the poverty line, of $2 per day. Twenty two percent of the population lives in ultra poverty, of 10 cents per day. Some estimates say 35% of the Malawian children under the age of 12 are orphans.
The children have many challenges. Because of the lack of food, malnutrition and with it stunted growth, is fairly normal. It is not unusual to see a child that may look to be 7 or 8 years old carrying a baby on their back, in a papoose sack. The 7 to 8 year old will be a little older, possibly 11 or 12. Whatever the age they more than likely are the “adult” taking care if the child on their back. This is a way of life.
Malawi is a small country. In the cities children live on the streets. They are beggars and in some cases petty thieves. The child on the street may be supporting a frail grand mother or a frail mother suffering from AIDS.
Malawi has a population of about 13 million people. The average life expectancy is 38 years. The proportion of the population under 20 is 56 percent. The population, in general, is rural so the cities do not play a prominent role in the life of the average Malawian.
The general health challenge is clean drinking water, AIDS and Malaria. Consistently we see estimates that 500,000 children have lost one or both parents to AIDS. There are 25,000 plus AIDS cases among children reported every year.
In the orphanages, the ratio of workers to children was high. The orphanages we visited were small houses with 10 to 12 infant children. It was clean and a loving place. School enrollment for is about 80% for children below age 13. Of course, there is an extreme teacher shortage, leaving the quality of the education below any good standard. Teachers are dedicated and work hard. The schools, in some cases, had dirt floors and little in the way of supplies. A few more supplies, in the classroom, would make a large difference. The children were happy to be there, worked hard, enjoyed their companions and were proud to show off their work.
Connecting the Dots
The statistics paint one picture, working and living among the Malawians paints a different picture.
In the 10 days, we were in the country we made a difference. We could not distribute food because it was too dangerous. We preached the Gospel and financially supported Pastors from all around Lilongwe. We supplied clothing, bedding, shoes, towels and basic toiletries. Something as basic as a mosquito net makes a difference.
The Gospel Message is the message of hope, when governments fail, terrible diseases ravage families and the entire support infrastructure seems to be gone. The local churches provide a stable and dependable environment where all people are welcome. The Gospel of love is still true.
The environment, which the children live and survive each day, would seem desperate. It is. I would suggest if given the opportunity do something, do it. An African saying is: “If you think you are too small to make a difference try spending a night in a closed room with a mosquito.”
Africa is a beautiful continent. Malawi is a beautiful country that has been forgotten by time. Every person, that possibly can, should visit an African Country on a mission or humanitarian trip.
With little effort everyone who visits will make a difference.
Population information provided from:Malawi National Statistics Office and the World Encyclopedia