Empowering ministry and independence

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The work of the Africa Evangelical Church HIV/AIDS Ministries are currently supported by SIM Malawi projects:

MW#96157 HOPE for AIDS Master Project

MW#96253 HOPE for AIDS Home-Based Care Project

MW#96255 HOPE for AIDS Orphan and Vulnerable Children Project

MW#96654 AIDS Prevention

HOPE for AIDS is going through a period of transition. It is moving over to a new title of Hope for Life, and its key work in Malawi is also moving to a new Pastoral-Care Ministry which will be a fully self-sustaining ministry within the Africa Evangelical Church (AEC)

 

Change can be difficult for everyone involved. HOPE for AIDS in Malawi is currently going through two significant changes. One is its name and focus as it transitions to Hope for Life, reflecting the changes in HIV/AIDS ministries over recent years as improved testing and treatment have improved quality of life and life expectancy.

The other is seeing some of its key work, Orphan and Vulnerable Children Care (OVC) and Home-Based Care (HBC) projects becoming fully integrated as a self-sustaining  new ministry within the AEC.

Concentration:  Working in groups to discuss the project is an important part of the training programme for the new Pastoral-Care Ministry

To enable this transition to a self-sustaining new ministry to occur, a ‘goat pass-on scheme’ is being introduced. This will have the dual benefit of empowering people to bring them a measure of independence in their lives as well as providing the income needed by the AEC to continue their visiting programs and under-fives day-care centres with its associated feeding programme. Income-Generating Activities (IGAs) are not uncommon within the work of HOPE for AIDS, and this new project is another such scheme. This one involves rearing goats. Similar projects are well known in other parts of Malawi and the African continent but this is the first time such a project has been undertaken by HOPE for AIDS and the AEC.

The Trainers: (LtoR) Gerald Chisale, Joseph Antonio and Thomas Fungalani

“Each beneficiary under the project will be given one female goat,” said Gerald Chisale, HOPE for AIDS OVC Co-ordinator.

“The hope is then that this goat will breed and produce kids. Ministry volunteers will then take one female kid back to give to the church. This animal will either be given to another beneficiary family or it will be cared for by a church family so that future kids can be sold. The money raised from the sale will be used to support the feeding programme at the Day-Care Centres which are currently run by HOPE for AIDS.”

“By working in this way we hope that the project will become self-sustaining,” he said.

The ministry and the goat project are in their infancy at present, and three areas have been selected in which to run pilot schemes. These are with the, current, HOPE for AIDS OVC work in Ngabu and Chilumba, and the HBC work at Sankhulani.

The project has a  five-step implementation plan. The first stage is to hold a meeting with the local church. This gives people the opportunity to find out what the project is about and how they can become involved with it.

After this meeting a committee is then selected to help develop the work. The intention is that this committee will be made up of people who have been on previous HOPE for AIDS committees, in order to bring their knowledge and experience to bear, but also to have new people who can bring fresh ideas and be given the opportunity to serve in this way.

Prayer requests

Please pray for:

Stamina for the team as they carry out the work in 11 areas across Malawi

Goats to be fertile and to produce many offspring to allow the project to be fully self-sustaining

A positive attitude to the transition process towards the Pastoral-Care Ministry from both the volunteers and the beneficiaries

Sccess of the project in terms of becoming self-sustaining through the pass-on scheme

The second stage is to meet with the committee to design the project and get local feedback into how it can develop and be operated in that specific area.

The third stage is training the beneficiaries, and the fourth stage is the distribution of the goats and the final stage is one of follow-up and evaluation meetings.

“We divided the training into two parts,” said Joseph Antonio, Projects Officer for AEC.

“The first part is dealing with the attitudes that people have towards any project that is started in the church or in the community.

Goat market: Agricultural Extension Worker giving meds to one of the goats. 

The second part is the technical side looking at the goats, which is done by Agricultural Extension Workers. We also look at the characteristics that the volunteers and the beneficiaries should have and the mindset they should have towards the overall vision of the project, so that each should have a good measure of success.”

So far Ngabu and Chilumba have gone through the first three stages of the project development, and plans are underway for the first goats to be distributed. Sankhulani has completed stages one and two, and the training is soon to get underway.

“The training at Ngabu and Chilumba has gone well,” said Gerald.

New owner: A beneficiary and her goat

“The participants were excited to know more about how goats behave. Most of them were just keeping them without knowing what the best kholas (pens) are to build to keep them, the type of diseases that normally affect them, and so on.

“Now they know some of the technical parts of the training on goats. Apart from that, they were also challenged by our stewardship lessons, that they need to take responsibility for the resources provided by the project. They also know that it is their responsibility to look after what God has provided for them.”

Now, by supplying the goats, the hope is that these families will be empowered to take responsibility for keeping their children in school and providing the things they need along the way rather than being reliant on HOPE for AIDS. A lot of the thinking behind the project is to do with empowering people. The volunteers will carry on doing the good work that they have been doing over the last ten years in keeping children in school, giving nutritional advice and teaching, and these are reasons for volunteers to keep visiting in order to see that the goats are thriving, because a large part of what the volunteers do at the moment is to advocate for the sick or orphans, to ensure that they are being cared for and treated fairly.

There is still education work to be carried out; not least is getting the beneficiaries to accept that goats’ milk is even more nutritious than cows’ milk!

“Traditionally people in rural areas do not drink goats’ milk,” said Joseph.

“An important part of our work going forward will be to try to change attitudes towards goats’ milk by educating them about its benefits. We have been doing this for a while, and it will take even more time in the future to overcome prejudices!”

The distribution of the goats is another area where careful planning has taken place. Each area will hold a ‘Goat Market’ to which traders will bring animals they want to sell to the project. The Agricultural Extension Workers, who have been working with the team through the training process, will be on hand to examine the goats and decide which ones will offer the best chance of breeding.

These animals will then be set aside and the beneficiaries will come and select the goat they want, which will then be bought by the project. Working in this way, with the beneficiary making the selection, means the project cannot be accused of supplying a sub-standard animal if it does not produce offspring. The desire is that each goat market will result in around 60 goats being selected and bought for each area.

“We hope the goats are fertile and will produce kids, hopefully twins, so that one can be kept by the beneficiary and one can go back to the church,” said Thomas Fungalani, HOPE for AIDS HBC Co-ordinator.

“It is important that this happens so that the project is self-sustaining, and we can provide both for the beneficiaries and also for the support of the feeding programmes.”

After incorporating any lessons learned, the plan is to then empower the other eight HOPE for AIDS locations in the same way. It is hoped that all of this work will be carried out between March and June this year, so the team is praying for stamina to see them through!

Already Joseph, Gerald and Thomas are looking ahead and have great hopes for the next year.

“After a year, we are hoping that most of the beneficiaries will have passed back some goats to the church,” said Joseph.

“If they can do that, then it means we will be able to continue the OVC ministry as we help them to resource the Day-Care Centres. To be able to get maize and soya, the Day-Care Centres each need 15 goats at each pass-back, so if goats are being passed back we are in safe mode to call our project a success!” he said.


Volume 5: Issue 5
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Webpage icon ‘Holding hands’ in the community
Webpage icon “The Spirit breaks boundaries”