Nourish a child – Nurture the Nation

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Rays of Hope is a favourite with our Short-Term Associates (STAs) many of whom help with the feeding programme and also teach in after-school clubs. We spoke to its founder, Willie Mpasuka (left)

 

 “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5

The story of SIM Malawi’s partner Rays of Hope is, in many ways, the story of its founder and director, Willie Mpasuka. Rays of Hope was founded by Willie, and two others no longer with the project, in 2009, initially to help children who were being failed by the overloaded education system in Malawi.

Willie Mpasuka, the seventh of nine children, was born in Zomba where his father worked for the Malawi Government. A difficult home life meant that he struggled at primary school – a fate that befalls many Malawian children today. His father retired and decided to move away from Zomba but Willie realised the city was the only place he would be able to get an education. He spoke to his oldest brother, a school teacher, and asked if he could stay with him to be able to go to school.

Claiming the promise

In Standard 7 Willie gave his life to the Lord and during his Bible reading he came across James 1:5: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” He claimed the promise of this verse for himself; he also prayed that he would come top of his class, a position he had never occupied. Hard work and answered prayer saw him achieve this! But his teacher brother thought his school report was wrong and was only satisfied after he had gone to the school to talk to Willie’s teachers!

Willie went on to study a BA in Biblical Studies at the Africa Bible College (ABC) in Lilongwe, gained a Post-Graduate Diploma in Management from the Polytechnic of Malawi in Blantyre and a Masters in International Development from Eastern University in Pennsylvania, USA.

STA Sarah Dorman helping with the Rays of Hope feeding programme

Helping children failed by systems

“When I, and my colleagues, set up Rays of Hope we wanted to help the children who were being failed by the system,” he said.

“Poor home backgrounds can result in children being slow learners or under performing in class, just as I did. We wanted to do something about this and the idea of the After School Club was born in me during an internship in America.”

After his time at ABC Willie was able to travel to the USA to take up a one-year internship with Urban Promise International (UPI). UPI runs After Schools Clubs; he looked at the model it uses and decided that it would work in Malawi. He put a proposal together to bid for some seed funding and was successful. On his return to Malawi, Rays of Hope first started to shine.

But soon he realised that more was needed than just helping children to catch up with school work with which they were struggling. He met two children who made him realise that many children needed help with their home situation and with nourishing food.

“I met a 12-year-old boy called Yohane,” remembers Willie.

“He was the youngest in his family and after his mother died his father remarried and moved away, leaving him with his older siblings. These siblings did not care for him well and eventually they, too, moved away and left him on his own. When I met him he was thin and dirty, his clothes were rags and he was hungry.

A need to do more

“When we started the After School Club we gave the children squash ad a snack. When I saw Yohane at the Club I realised we need to do more. I took the situation to a prayer group I attended and outlined the situation to the men there. We prayed about it and one member donated food to us so we could start a feeding programme.

STA Helen Ryan surrounded by enthusiastic pupils as she sets p a game in the After School Club

No budget for programme

“I also met Evelyn who was in a similar position. She was the youngest of 15 people living in her grandfather’s house and was not getting the care she needed. So with these two children in mind I set up the feeding programme. After I had set it up I told my board! They said there was nothing in the budget for such a programme. That was true and is still true today but we regularly feed 70-80 children four days a week and we have seen the faithfulness of God in a mighty way as He has provided the food we need or the money needed to buy the food for the programme.”

But it is not just young children who come under the work of Rays of Hope.

Young people who have finished secondary school but who are unable to go to University also come under its umbrella.

Rays of Hope regularly has a small group of young people it has identified who come to the Chilomoni centre to receive computer and other training. 

Developing ‘balanced kids’

 “Rays of Hope looks to develop balanced kids in terms of academic, social and spiritual training. Our goal is to raise Christian leaders who are competent enough to use their skills to develop the nation,” said Willie.

“Every child has enough latent skills to do well in primary school. Slow learners have a backstory, a history to tell, just as I did and just as Yohane and Evelyn did, and our aim is to challenge those backstories and help the children to grow and develop.

“You may be interested to know that since Yohane came into the programme he has really flourished at school and is now in the top five students in his year!”

Willie (back left) and members of the Rays of Hope team

 

 


Volume 2: Issue 6
Webpage icon Malawi Amoto Editorial
Webpage icon Giving our all for God and His Glory
Webpage icon Seek the Kingdom of God first
Webpage icon MMI continues to build momentum