Friends and Family,
This Christmas Eve I want to thank you all for you prayers, your financial support, and your encouragement. I began writing this in the last hour of my twenty-four hour journey back to the US. It has been a refreshing break and has helped to give me new perspective on the things that are happening in Malawi. I will be flying back on December 26th to complete the remainder of my two-year commitment. Below I have listed a few of the exciting highlights that I have seen happen.
In addition to providing jobs for over 40 artisians in the refugee camp and the surrounding villages, Kibebe is turning a significant profit, which is then invested into the organization to help keep it running.
Chiyambi Soaps has now officially expanded! The new line of soaps is called wala (which means shining in the local language) and is being sold inside the camp at about 25 cents per bar. As soon as I return to Malawi, I will start interviewing candidates to teach to make the soap. This will be beneficial in a number of ways. First, it will provide a consistent income for someone who needs it. Second, it will allow us to increase production and reach more markets. Third, it will provide a high quality, affordable, sustainable, and locally sourced alternative to the soap that is currently available in Dzaleka. Finally, it will free me up in 2017 to explore new business ideas, increase our export sales, and also to take on a larger role in the loan program.
I have mentioned the juice making business that we funded in the past, but I want to highlight it again. As we have continued to walk alongside Vadeste, the Congolese owner of the business, as he seeks to have his product certified by the Malawi Bureau of Standards, I have gotten to know him better on a personal level, and see his passion for his product. I have also had the opportunity to continue to teach him business skills. It is so encouraging when a person tirelessly seeks out knowledge in order to improve their business and life. While There is Hope can only supply a relatively small amount of capital, the business skills and advice I am able to provide will hopefully enable to business to grow to a point where it will be able to receive outside investment.
Next year I have planned to organize a workshop to train a select group of disabled refugees how to make recycled paper. This will provide more jobs, and also provide a more consistent supply of cards to Umoja, the card making company started by There is Hope and run by a group of disabled refugees and Malawians.
This Christmas, please pray for me as I try to discern what God has for me after this year.
Pray for our organization, which has almost doubled in size in the past calendar year, to learn how to communicate well in this new situation.