Friends and Family,
We are coming out of the coldest part of the year here. Most of the mosquitoes are gone, but I sleep with 3 blankets on my bed, so it does get surprisingly cold! In Chichewa we say, kukuzizila (it's cold).
- In May my parents came for a visit. It was fun for me to be able to show them what life is like here in Malawi. We visited Lake Malawi, hiked up a mountain, and went on a safari.
- In early June, I taught 6 groups of 10 women each how to make soap. This was in partnership with another organization that works in rural villages. It was exciting for me to see the way their eyes lit up when they realized that the concoction they mixed turned into soap. They will be provided with a starter pack to equip them with the basic materials needed to make soap. They will also have continued oversight as they make decisions about whether to develop a business or use the soap for personal use only. Regardless of their choice, the soap that I have taught them to make will be of much higher quality than what they currently use, while still being really affordable.
- Toward the end of June, I organized a three-day training for our vocational training students. During our time, we covered the basics of managing a business, catching the attention of customers, and building trust in your products. This is a group of over 50 tailors, bricklayers, carpenters, and photographers from multiple African countries. My favorite part of the training was when we broke into groups based on vocation and discussed how to come up with a fair price for the product. I spent most of my time with the bricklayers, discussing all the inputs into their business and the best way to calculate their costs. Because there is a language barrier, and because I don’t have a close relationship with many of the students, they were hesitant to answer my questions at first. However, in time they grew more comfortable and engaged in a pretty heated discussion about how much cement it takes to build a house. Bricklaying is mostly low paid, simple manual labor, but when the students are able to put to use the head knowledge from the training, they will be able to advance in their careers and become foremen on their job sites.
There have also been several difficult circumstances within our organization, which make me uncertain about how my time here in Malawi will progress. I am hoping to have a clear resolution by next month. This challenging time has left me with a lot of questions. I ask that you pray for our team to remain unified, and for grace and truth in this situation. Through it all, I have found myself forced to trust more in God, and I have been encouraged in seeing Him move to bring out the truth in a situation where I had doubted it was possible.
As I look back on my time here so far, it is encouraging to see the development of our programs and the growth of the people who are a part of them. When I got here there wasn’t any vocational training program at all. Over time we have progressed from one 6-month class focused on equipping individuals with skills that are useful in their context, to three, soon to be four, classes that also provide an element of business training and an opportunity to receive a low interest loan for the entrepreneurs in the group. There are now multiple individuals who have graduated and received loans from There is Hope. Please check out these links to read more in depth about two of our successful carpentry graduates.
Thank you all for your continued support. I am always encouraged when I receive a short message that you are praying for me, and I am always happy to share more stories if you are interested.