Blog: August 2009
Promise Mchenga, a graduate of ABC, has been working with ProjectTEACH in Malawi. Next month, he will start a fellowship with UrbanPromise International.
While it's sad to see our fellows leave after one year at UrbanPromise, it is exciting to see them begin their new ministries and to invite a new group to the U.S. for a year of training. This year, 7 individuals have been invited to serve with UrbanPromise. Five graduates (four men and one woman) are from the African Bible College in Malawi, one man is from the Ugandan Christian University, and one Kenyan woman joins us after teaching at Bates College in Maine.
Shoni is our fellow from Kenya. She interned with UrbanPromise this summer and will continue with a UPI fellowship this fall. Charity is joining us from Uganda and is due to arrive on September 7th after visiting a friend in Minnesota.
Our five new fellows from Malawi are on hold, however, due to new visa regulations. Requests for visas are in process and we hope for their acceptance ASAP! At this point, they will arrive late, but we hope that they are here shortly after other interns arrive at UP. In the meantime, they are helping our leaders in Malawi in their programs. This is a great opportunity for our new fellows to learn about the work and begin to develop a vision for this work. It is also a great asset to our leaders who have extra hands on deck for a couple of months!
Please pray that our group will arrive safely and that all of our Malawian fellows will be approved for visas soon & help us welcome them when they arrive!
The more one travels the more apparent it becomes; the world is big, cultures do vary, but people will always be people. The aura of Africa entices many, and the West has succeeded in sensationalizing the continent. Yet, as you walk through the markets, sit in the classrooms, or drive down the roads, the mysticism disappears and life, as it has been, and will be, emerges; natural, normal, ordinary. To step into peoples lives and immerse in their reality for a while is a unifying experience. It congeals the notion that we are all God’s children, sharing our joys and hardships with those around us. And it underscores that we are all in need of love and grace.
Several planes and a day later we are back in America. We saw and did so much that our trip felt long, yet saddened that it is now over. There were a lot of highlights that will be cherished, yet the pervading remembrance centers around the demands UrbanPromise International and its ministries are fulfilling. The Malawian children and their communities are so eager to embrace the programs. It is hard to understand, born and raised in America (the land of opportunity). We are indoctrinated from an early age that if you want it bad enough, it can be achieved. In Malawi, there are obstacles, hindrances, and circumstances that if your lot is not right, your future is set, and it doesn’t matter what your dreams may be; unattainable is a reality. That is why each Malawian fellow that comes to UrbanPromise to train and learn has a remarkable testimony. Each has a story of God’s hand directly in their lives lifting them up to the one percent of Malawian citizens who earn a degree. And that is why each fellow has a desire to give back, to be God’s instrument in removing those obstacles and changing the circumstances of Malawi’s next generation. Undoubtedly the difficulties run deep and wide, yet in less than a year, since the introduction of these ministries, hundreds of children and several communities have been influenced. The opportunity for growth and the impact on Malawi remains vast and immeasurable. The appreciation for what is being done, however, is well understood.
It truly was a spectacular journey.
The retreat with cohorts 1 and 2 at Lake Malawi was a success. A lot of good information was shared as well as a refocusing on how these ministries can most effectively raise funds and reach as many children as possible. As mentioned earlier, the demand for what these ministries are doing is so high in Malawi that it really comes down to the monetary support they get from UrbanPromise International, and individual supporters like you.
The lodge that we stayed at was relatively nice, although no internet available. A moment of concern resulted from its “cash only” policy (not uncommon). Malawi’s biggest bill is the 500 Kwacha = $4 US, therefore, a retreat for 15 people, food and drinks, conference room and extras was going to cost a decent amount. Getting all that cash together was literally going to take a suitcase to hold it all. Luckily, the manager was accommodating and we worked out a wire transfer payment. Nevertheless, a cash based society with its biggest bill equaling 4 bucks is a hassle.
Its winter in Malawi, but the temperatures remained in the 70s. The lake was a little chilly, yet, we jumped in anyway. All last year, the fellows talked about how beautiful Lake Malawi is, and they were right. So, it was necessary to take the plunge. It didn’t feel right to have traveled so many miles and not to.