I have been in Malawi, Africa for three weeks now. The three weeks have been emotional weeks too, but sadly I only have four weeks left. I have been meaning to blog regularly, but with all the emotions, random power outages, and lack of consistent wifi, I just never got around to it. So here’s how the last three weeks have gone down.
The first ten or eleven days was with the 2nd Milk missions team. The team had 15 people in it; Cannon, Damon, Brandi, Niki, Casey, Stan, Caylee, Blaire, Kelsey, Lacey, Elizabeth, Kalie, Lisa, Jason, Stefani (my mom), and me. We also had a set of 5 translators, the 2nd Milk staff, National Director of Malawi, and a draining Director from Kenya. We got to Malawi and we hit the ground running. We went into villages giving our formula and porridge and spreading the gospel.
The village we went into on the 3rd day in Malawi was the hardest village to go into by far. There was a baby, her name is Teleza (Teresa in English, photos of my mom caring for her are below), she is one of our sponsor babies in the 2nd Milk program but her agogo (grandmother in Chechewa) was giving the formula to an older child she is caring for because the older one has the greater chance to live. She will be 1 on July 30th but weighs as much as a 4 month old. It is so sad to go into a village every day and see the people that have to make the conscious decision every day of having to decide which child to feed because one has the greatest chance of survival.
I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, “Oh they can’t be so poor that they have to choose which child would live,” or, “Why doesn’t the mother just breastfeed the baby?” Those are all valid questions, and the same ones that I thought until I got here. Well the answers are these. They are dirt poor. When you say “Dang I only have 20 bucks on me, so I can’t get Chipotle and Starbucks,” that’s the equivalent of 14,276 Malawian Kwacha, which could feed a family, buying from the markets, for several weeks. Heck, my host mom/boss, Sunga, just bought 2 kg of mince (4.4 lbs of ground beef), a couple kgs of potatoes and carrots, and a bell pepper for about 3 bucks. But, to get back on how poor they are, THEY DON’T HAVE MONEY. They grow their own corn (if there is enough water), raise their own chickens (if they have corn to feed them), and raise their own goats (again, if they can feed them). Other than the food sources they grow, they can gather from the wild coconut, pineapple, papaya, and banana trees, and the wild sugarcane. They are, as much as they have the capabilities, self-sustainable, without money to buy anything else. But guess what, NEWBORNS/BABIES IN GENERAL CAN’T EAT SOLID FOOD. So then here is when you ask the second question, and my response will be, “Well the mother is dead, sick, or has gone mad; there is no other woman that can nurse the baby; and/or, the mother cannot produce enough or any milk at all.” This is where 2nd Milk gets involved. We find the most vulnerable babies and we restore their health until they can complete the program.
When I see the babies who were like Teleza that have completed the program and that are running around fat, happy, and healthy, is when I see God really work through us and the babies lives. The 2nd Milk Program is nothing without God. I have no doubt that these babies in the program will grow up and change the fate of Malawi.
But now, since the big team has gone, us interns are here to still save, with God’s help, the beautiful babies of Malawi. We still go out into villages and distribute the formula and porridge, but we also are working on updating every one of the babies’ profiles so we can get them more sponsorships. Because no sponsorship means the baby WILL DIE. Let me just say that again in bold, italics, caps, and underlined; THE BABIES WILL DIE WITHOUT SPONSORSHIPS!!! If you didn’t get the message, then you may want to get your eyes checked.
2nd Milk is a non-profit NGO ( a non-governmental organization is any non-profit, voluntary citizens’ group which is organized on a local, national or international level), so we need the support of donors and sponsors or else we cannot help the babies, and that’s one of the intern jobs I have, to make the people want to sponsor and donate.
I love my internship. I love Malawi. And God is definitely calling me to a life of missions. Nothing and no one on this planet could discourage me in moving abroad and doing God’s work until he calls me back to the States (that’s IF he calls me back to the States). But before I say goodbye to the States, I will still be coming home to get my degree so that I can further help God’s kingdom grow. Even the random coming home or waking up to no electricity (and not knowing if it will come back on), the lack of consistent internet, and the general lacking of anything normal to a first world American, will not stop me from coming back. I’ve grown to love the times without electricity and internet because then I just chill and play games or make dinner in the candlelight with my fellow interns and now close friends. You don’t realize how lovely God’s creation is until He says go to a place the total opposite of America. I’m sure glad He sent me.