It was about 20 years ago that I first developed a desire to go to Africa. While my life has taken me many places in the last two decades, it wasn’t until this last month that the dream of Africa was finally realized when I had the pleasure of visiting Malawi with some friends from LJPC.
LJPC has been in partnership with Lingadzi CCAP for the past five years. On this trip we renewed the partnership for the next five years. Through the partnership LJPC has been able to financially support local mission efforts in Malawi. On my trip, I was able to take part in several of the local missions of Lingadzi CCAP. The level of community engagement, humanitarian support, and good old fashioned “caring for your neighbor” mentality that the folks from Lingadzi CCAP showed me was humbling and inspiring! One of the local trips included a visit to Adziwa Orphanage in which we brought an entire school bus full of supplies, clothes, blankets, food and toys to the 500 kids and 200 caretakers that call it home. Another trip was to the Malingunde Home and School for the Blind. We were greeted with songs of joy and huge smiles filled with happiness! We came with the Braille paper that was needed for the kids to take their final exams, with LOTS of rice (which is a special treat to eat for many people in the country), other supplies, and FIDGIT SPINNERS! Oh the excitement and laughter that filled the air as the kids played with them for the first time. Well, it was a sound I will never forget.
There were many other stops that included heart-filled generosity and community. However, one in particular really spoke to my heart! It’s with an organization called Y-Malawi whose goal is to open people’s hearts to change. They work to improve village life one community at a time by engaging, enriching and investing it in every way they can. One of those ways is rescuing girls out of teen child marriages. In Malawi it is still very common in villages for young girls to be sold into marriage. They are taught from a very young age that their worth is based off how much money or goods their father can get from selling them into marriage. Many of these marriages start at the age of 12. Y-Malawi steps in by working with village Chiefs and Pastors. They remove the girls from these marriages. Then they help the girls get back into school. They can provide housing for the girls and teach them how to sew so they can become seamstresses. They give them the skills they need to be able to live a life outside of the marriage. Basically – They’re giving these girls a future and hope. I had the privilege of meeting four of these girls while I was there. Hearing their new dreams for their future was beautiful!
I met with and had meals with Malawian lawyers, doctors, civil engineers, construction company owners, senate members and more. I shared best practices, debated building requirements and ended up giving Excel lessons to several business owners.
Malawi was a blessing to me in so many ways and I come back a more grateful and inspired person.
Special shout out to ETC’s new VTO program!
On Thursday July 30th, I spent the day volunteering for a nonprofit called Porchlight Community Services. Myself and 5 other volunteers assisted in organizing a food pantry for families, low income communities, people with health based concerns, and those being effected by COVID-19. We all were responsible for washing produce, organizing items in a grocery store-like fashion, and taking inventory of items within the food pantry.
Porchlight prides themselves on giving their guests a more exalted version of food pantry services. At a typical food pantry, volunteers will bag up all items for each guest so that when they arrive, they grab a bag and go. Porchlight provides a mini grocery shopping experience so that their guests have the opportunity to make their own food selection choices and they feel more dignified throughout the experience all together.
It was a very uplifting and eye opening experience. I had never seen anything like this before and it was very gratifying to work for a nonprofit with so much ambition to make their guests feel valued and respected. Porchlight is a very unique and creative charitable organization and they have set the bar very high! Every volunteer had a great attitude and we all worked together very well as a team. All of us will be participating again next Thursday and I am excited to see how much more we can do now that we understand the process and have gotten to know each other better!
If you are interested in volunteering with Porchlight, check out the link below for more information!