Mission Moments: Malawi

Mission Moments: Malawi
Gary Fallesen

Mission Moments: Malawi

Giving youth adult-size opportunities

C4C vocational skills center opens in Malawi

By Gary Fallesen, Climbing For Christ

A widow with five grandchildren in her care reached out to Damson Samson for help. She needed 1,000 Malawi Kwacha – or 58 cents in U.S. dollars – to pay for her granddaughter’s school exams.

“She was not able to reach me in time, which meant the granddaughter was not able to write her exams,” recalled Damson, our Malawi-based Kingdom worker in Africa. “What only can follow is (for the young girl) to drop out as there is no other remedy.”

Poverty leads to desperation, especially in one of the world’s poorest countries. And unspoken cultural practices also hold back young people, especially girls.

In May, The New York Times exposed the practice of child marriage in Malawi. This is not uncommon in the Majority World. But so-called “initiation camps” are a blight on this poor African nation.

“In parts of rural Malawi, parents and guardians often send their daughters to these camps when they reach puberty,” The New York Times story reported. “The girls stay at the camps for weeks at a time where they learn about motherhood and sex – or, more specifically, how to sexually please a man.”

These camps were news to me. But Damson confessed that initiation camps not only exist, but churches often organized them. “With time and with the Pentecostal church the thing is dying slowly, slowly,” Damson said, adding how evangelical churches have “discouraged” the use of these camps.

Traditions die hard. In 2015, Malawi outlawed child marriage. But, as The New York Times reported, “enforcement has been weak, and it is still common for girls to marry young. In Malawi, 37.7 percent of girls are married before the age of 18 and seven percent are married before turning 15, according to a report from the country’s National Statistical Office.”

“Early marriage has been a problem even in the community we are working in,” Damson said. “Many of our widows’ granddaughters have been forced to marry even at that tender age due to the poverty level in these families.

“So, they cannot continue with their education as their old grandparents cannot afford fees and this has hurt many of the younger girls.”

High dropout rates – for various reasons – inspired Damson to build the C4C Vocation Skills Centre. We dedicated this youth center on Wedneday, July 3 during Mission: Malawi 2024. (CLICK HERE for daily Dispatches.)

“The idea of this vocational skills youth center was made as part of alleviating those trapped in this,” Damson explained. “Many are not in school as they got married early and some of their marriages broke up and now they have nowhere to go with their lives. That’s why we thought of bringing this project to give those pinned by poverty another chance.”

Sewing machines and computers are being prepared for the first students.

The vocational center will provide instruction in computers, carpentry, welding and fabrication, tailoring and fashion design, and much more.

We were introduced to this worthy project last August during Mission: Malawi 2023 when we dedicated one of Damson’s two maize mills. The mills have been turning a profit, so much so that Damson used funds from the mills to build the center. He’s also purchased four computers and four sewing machines. Additional funds are needed for more resources as more than 200 youth have registered for the start of training.

While our main focus on Mission: Malawi 2024 was teaching evangelism on the mountain with guides and porters in Climbing For Christ’s Mulanje Massif Chapter, we were honored to commit this youth center to the Lord on July 3. All to HIS glory! 

Helping hands

One sewing machine in Malawi costs $350 to $500 USD (“depending on the quality”), Damson Samson said. Damson has purchased four but has 45 students signed up to learn tailoring skills. A complete welding set is $1,400. Damson has pieces to a set but not a complete set – and 40 young people have signed up to learn welding skills.

Welding equipment at the C4C Vocation Skills Centre in Malawi. (Photo by Damson Samson)

Damson has no tools for carpentry, brick laying, painting, and hair dressing.

“We really need your support,” he said. “All who are ready to improve their lives are vulnerable and orphaned young people in our community. We are hoping that if the grandchildren can become self-supportive they will be able to support their mothers and grandparents who are in need of a helping hand at this time.”

Please consider donating to the C4C Vocation Skills Centre. Send your donation to Climbing For Christ, c/o Malawi Youth Program, P.O. Box 16290, Rochester, NY 14616-0290 USA. Or CLICK HERE to give online via PayPal. In Canada, make cheques payable to The Great Commission Foundation, and on the memo line add Climbing For Christ CANADA. Mail your support to: The Great Commission Foundation, P.O. Box 14006, Abbotsford, BC V2T 0B4. Or CLICK HERE to give online.

The final Word

“Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” – Proverbs 22:6 (NLT)

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