September 16th 2014
Monday, September 15, 2014
(Tinashe Saka is the co-founder of RiseMalawi Ministries, and has just returned home to Malawi after studying in the U.S.)
I have been in Malawi, the Warm Heart of Africa for seventeen days. As expected, I have had many people come to my house to greet me after two years away. Most of my guests are Rise Malawi children and women. While my kids at Rise tell stories about what their lives have been like for two years and how much they missed me, women share about their families and church. Each day, I am overwhelmed by the number of visitors who come to see me. Every day, I am happy to realize how much loved I am, how much missed I was. All days have been painted with images I cherish. I have stayed with Vanessa since August 29, the day I arrived.
Vanessa runs Rise Malawi girls empowerment program called Voices Awake: Girls Equipped for Change. She has given me a room in her house. Staying with Vanessa has helped me adjust easily. We take turns to cook on charcoal in an open space outside her house. She can hardly use her mini cooker because her house has poor electricity connection. We draw water around midnight mostly after four or five days without water. Her water tap is outside the house just like her bathroom and toilet, a pit latrine. Today, her bathroom roof blew off and the door fell while she was ready to take a bucket bath. It is windy and dusty. Even with doors and windows closed, Vanessa's bed is full of dust and particles. Although the iron sheets on her roof are not well connected to keep dust away from her bed, Vanessa's heart and mine are. I am adjusting slowly but well. I am thankful for her giving spirit. She has given me space to live, her presence to enjoy and her heart to cherish.
Vanessa is also a teacher at Rise Malawi High School. She told me a story about one of her students, Umali, 15, tenth grade. Umali lives with his mom in a small grass-thatched house that has no electricity. He asked Vanessa if he could use her lights for studying at night. Although he studied hard to pass, he failed assignments. He had poor test grades. Umali's heart was broken. He kept asking Vanessa what he should do to pass and she told him all she knew but his grades did not change. Vanessa asked other teachers how to help this precious boy. Umali got what he needed. Last trimester, Umali, who has always been bottom five, was top ten. A light dawned on him. It was a light of success. Every night, I see Umali study on Vanessa's porch. I am settling down slowly but happily.