Pastor Yunusu, who is the manager at Living Way Education in Malawi and also leading a community Church within the area of Group village Headman Khwidzi, wrote a letter to his friend and fellow director of LIVINGWAY EDUCATION, Jamie Jamieson, on the Isle of Wight, England, asking for prayer support during the time when Malawi was suffering extreme shortages of the staple food – maize. Jamie is the Director of SENTAfrica and is sent from Niton Methodist Church.
Shortages in Malawi affected almost 30% of the total population and that created difficulties as many people from the surrounding community of Khwidzi were flocking to the pastor’s house asking for food. It was at this point that the UK friend had to mobilise prayer support for both Yunusu’s family, church members and the community. A relief provision of MK400,000 Kwacha was made on the 21st January 2016. Maize corn was then procured and 32 households benefited from this relief.
Later in February 2016, another relief provision of MK150,000.00; One Hundred Fifty Thousand kwacha given which meant that almost 70 households were assisted. This was a good start to a programme of assistance but it was not a long-term solution to the problem.
Identifying a problem.
After being alerted to the problem Jamie considered the reasons as to why Malawi is still having hard times despite the hard work of non-governmental organisations trying to reduce poverty
during critical hunger situations. He organised some ideas and wrote a report sharing the ideas with Pastor Yunusu of LIVINGWAY EDUCATION.
It was agreed to bring the Traditional leaders (Chiefs and Group Village Heads) together so that a community solution could be found. Letters of invitation were typed, edited, printed and sent to thirty leaders (30). On the day of the meeting 29 village headmen and 2 group village heads were arrived for the meeting held at Living Way Teacher Centre and Guest House.
The Project was introduced by Jamie Jamieson and Yunusu Banda who made very brief presentations and practical illustrations to highlight the problem. Ten volunteers were asked to come forward and each was given a plate containing two spoonful of rice (to represent maize corn). Each volunteer was representing 10% of total population of Malawi. Each one of them having a plate of rice represented a 10% of Malawi’s normal crop of maize. Then three plates were taken away from three volunteers. This represents the current situation in Malawi whereby the normal harvest has been short by 30%. Now, when you buy maize from one part of Malawi to feed another this does not increase the number of people who are fed – it only changes one hungry person for another. It does not relieve the hunger of the nation. A better solution would be to buy maize from a country with a known surplus. This demonstration showed that just buying maize from one part of the country to feed another is not a long term solution.
29 Village and Group Village head-men meet to discuss Real Aid
Identifying the Problem together:
The demonstration showed that the problem hitting Malawi is the SHORTAGE of MAIZE. Sometimes Malawians (including government/stakeholders/merchants) are responding to this problem by buying maize to sell in the town. This only feeds the demand for maize and helps to increase the price. The assembled leaders group identified well with this demonstration and so moved on to consider another. This time in the grounds of LWE.
All the village heads were taken outside for another illustration in a form of exercise and demonstration.
They were to imagine the path to the LIVINGWAY Teaching Centre to be a river. Two volunteers were placed at one end of the river. Further up the path (river) the other leaders (see below) were given to believe that they needed to cross the river via a bridge.
The two leaders’ further down-stream noticed the ‘bodies’ floating in the river, and so dived in to rescue them. As fast as they pulled the bodies out more could be seen floating downstream. It was exhausting pulling the bodies out. What could be done?
Yunusu demonstrating falling into the river through the hole in the bridge
It was decided to go up-stream to find out. Here they found that the bridge the leaders were using to cross the river had a big hole in it. As the leaders crossed the bridge they fell in to the river.
The lesson to be learned here was; don’t waste too much time pulling those who had fallen into difficulty out of the river – instead it would be better to fill in the hole in the bridge!
The Meaning of the Demonstration:
The people falling into the river represented those who were unable to grow sufficient to support their families. The hole represents the hole in their skill-set necessary for them to farm efficiently. Rather than apply a sticking-plaster mentality towards those who had fallen onto hard times by giving bags of maize, it would be necessary to equip them so they had the skills to grow more themselves. It was decided that waiting to help those falling into the river would not make any changes and that the poor harvest problem would remain for ages. The problem caused by drought, another hole, would also have to be considered.
The Leaders task:
The task the leaders were given for the rest of the morning was to find a way to mend the hole in the bridge. It was agreed by the attending leaders that many people in Africa were just waiting for those who would fall down and then hoping they could be supported (dragged out of the river!). This was not dealing with the problem.
How to deal with the Problem of Shortage of food:
This was the question put to the leaders. They were asked to get into groups of five or six and discuss for ten to fifteen minutes any possible solutions.
There was a lively discussion and each group reported back to the rest at the end of group discussions.
Giving group feed-back on ‘solutions’
Group Long-term solutions.
- Support the farmers who are strong to grow more and let them support the needy
- Provision of Farming machinery like plough rather than human power as human may have less power.
- Encouraging livestock farming
- Provision of raw material and farm produce reliable markets
- Encouraging food security skills
- Start farming earlier and planting with the first rains
- Make organic manure for own use and not only relying on subsidy fertilizer from the government.
- Buy maize when it is cheaper and locally found, store it in grain banks and use it when needed.
- Practising Irrigation farming scheme (Use of Solar Powered water pumps)
- Encourage farmers to grow more food crops
- Forest reserve
- Irrigation farming
- Blanket farming
- Group Photo of Village Headmen joining Real-Aid scheme
Khwidzi Church Pastor
and Director of LWE
We are blessing our neighbours with food-relief items now, but at the end of the day we wish them exercise their ability to respond very positively to our projects which are promoting self reliance.”(Mark 4:35 – 40) We are doing just like what our Lord Jesus did; calming the storm and then later deal with the people. “We are encouraging a spirit of hard work and self-reliance. We are discouraging a dependant lifestyle. We have managed to share a little food just as a blessing – a relief. This is not to be a routine or continuing form of aid because it would lead to dependence.Now this is the message we as the Full Gospel Church at Khwidzi and LWE staff are telling the community.
By trying to tackle both the immediate problem facing the critically needy NOW, and at the same time preparing community members to take responsibility for the training and development of their own people, LIVINGWAY EDUCATION believes that it is creating a REAL AID solution. Working ‘with’ community leaders to build additional capacity to overcome difficult conditions, encouraging the construction of social capital in the form of improved networks among leaders and by providing opportunity for those who were skilled to obtain recognition – and payment! – for their willingness to participate in the process of community building. This is what LIVINGWAY EDUCATION believes is a living aid solution.Please pray that God will bless this community and enable greater self-reliance
Director SENTAfrica & LWE
- In this way the Teaching Centre would be used within the community to build community and economic capital. LWE feels that the measures it hopes to take are not stand alone strategy, but twin measures in a single strategy. By linking the lack of harvested food to the lack of relevant skills in food production, LWE hopes to work with the village headmen to transfer relevant skills and abilities, so that all might be raised to the level of the most able. By doing this at the same time as working to alleviate critical need, LWE hopes to be a servant to the community. Those who teach their skills will not only make some additional money, but their status in the community will be enhanced by those whose opinions count the most – the traditional authorities in rural Malawi.
- Pastor Yunusu then saw the proposed beneficiaries and assessed their need. He also encouraged and prayed for them. After this exercise; a relief package was procured and given to each of the beneficiaries.
- Pastor Yunusu made a field visit to the villages represented by the headmen. Names of 90 beneficiaries from 30 village heads and an additional 10 from the Khwidzi Full Gospel Church were identified. These names were submitted to Group Village head man Khwidzi who then took the names to Pastor Yunusu at LWE site.
Doing need assessment:
- One further thing had to be acknowledged. There were still those in the community whose ability to farm, and therefore grow sufficient for their family, was impaired because of circumstances beyond their control. Those who could be identified as being in ‘critical need’ should also have their names submitted to LIVINGWAY so that emergency relief could be given. These names were handed over to the village headman, Khwidzi, and then passed on to Pastor Yunusu Banda.
LIVINGWAY help for the critically needy:
- However something may need to be done to ensure that good ideas are passed on. It was agreed that the village head-men would identify those in their village who were capable and willing to come forward to teach others at the LIVINGWAY teaching centre. These ‘teachers’ would be paid by LIVINGWAY EDUCATION to pass on their knowledge and food security skills. The village headmen would identify others who would benefit from this training. In making the identification, the village head-men were helping the community to transfer skills and improve the social networking. This would go a long way to developing greater capacity in the community. Local leaders, local solutions leading to greater self-reliance.
- Sharing good ideas with neighbours and encouraging good practice would be the first step in making sure that more food was going to be grown in the coming years.
- These excellent suggestions were discussed by the village leaders. It was realised that any solution costing a lot of money to implement would be unlikely to be implemented.