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Nourishing Little Minds

0-0-1 (zero-zero-one) is a phrase that I was told can be heard around third world countries where hunger is rampant. It means, “I didn’t eat breakfast, I didn’t eat lunch, but I ate dinner so I am taken care of today”. It’s hard to imagine how to be thankful with just one meal a day but yet many are so grateful for just that. 

These little ones are part of a village Community Based Childcare Center (CBCC) or in simple terms a preschool. The CBCC funded by SAFE and built by Malawians is not simply a building of bricks and mortar. It has become a place where little minds are nourished and tummies are filled. Often, in Malawi, little one’s brains will never develop as they should because of the lack of nourishment. The SAFE program not only provides early childhood education and basic life skills, but also provides a meal for every child who attends the CBCC. SAFE knows that full tummies make happy kids and happy children are eager to learn.

The meal provided for the children is not simply donated from SAFE. Earlier in the year, Gogos (grandparents) in the villages received fertilizer for their overworked crops. Some may have also received soy seeds to plant as well. Only one condition is required, that they return a small portion of their harvest for the CBCC. This in turn provides the meals for the children who come to the CBCC to learn.

SAFE’s philosophy is not about giving money or items then moving on. Rather, the process is about developing relationships, teaching sustainability, and allowing the village people to reap the rewards of responsibility.

Firing the Bricks

Building a Preschool In Simiyoni Village

Simiyoni Village began their preschool under a mango tree. Caregivers were trained and children taught and fed. Later when village leaders were asked what more they could do for their children, they built a stick fence enclosure with a simple grass roof. Over 80 children met there for preschool. The next step became forming and firing bricks in the village which later had to be rejected because they were not strong enough. 
But, plans for a building were drawn up and donations came in from individuals, an elementary school, Gogo Groups and a memorial fund to begin the building. It has taken over two years to complete but the preschool began to meet in it even when it was under construction. Now, when the rains come, school can still be held and the building is also useful for the village community and gogo meetings. 

Teaching The Gogos

Mary teaches the Four Steps of Prayer in the Kawiya village. 

Mary Phiri was sharing with some village gogos, both grandmothers and grandfathers, that the greatest gift we will ever give our children and grandchildren will be our prayers for them. She explained that, talking to your Heavenly Father gives you hope when you feel hopeless, peace when you are fearful, and wisdom when you don’t know what to do. Jesus’ words, “Come unto me all who are weary… and I will give you rest,” is a promise from Jesus that you can depend on. 

Then she challenged them to gather together to pray for the children and for their schools using the Four Steps of Prayer. She described them like steps you take up a hill to meet with God, and where you bring your children and grandchildren’s needs to Him in prayer together. Then she taught that the first step is Praise, (Praising God for who He is) the second step is Confession (Which she is holding an illustration of) and the third step is Thanksgiving. These first three steps prepare your heart for step four, which is Intercession, when you ask God’s help for your grandchildren and pray a Scripture for them. 
As the gogos prayed in twos and threes together, for many it was the first time to pray out loud with another person. Mary went on to share that you will get to know God and His Word, the Bible, and you will begin to trust Him with everything in your life and this will bring joy, peace and hope in your heart as you pray.
Mary also addressed the question, How do I know God will hear my prayers? 
You may not be sure God will hear and answer your prayers. You may doubt that you are God’s child or that you have a personal relationship with God. You may wonder whether you would go to heaven to be with God if you died tonight. You can be sure of all these things and also be sure that God will hear and answer your prayers.
 
Just as a parent recognizes the voice of their own child and a grandparent the voices of their grandchildren, so the Heavenly Father knows the voice of each one of His children. Think about this truth: God loves you personally! In His great love He gave the world His greatest treasure—His only child, Jesus Christ. Jesus died on the cross in your place as payment for your sins, and for the sins of the whole world. Because of His death and resurrection you can experience God’s great love now and throughout all eternity. 
No matter where your sins have taken you, God’s forgiveness is perfect and complete, because Jesus died for all your sins. Salvation is a free gift, but you have to receive it and take it. Will you take this gift from God? Make the following prayer the most important prayer of your life as you begin praying for your grandchildren.
“Dear Father, thank you for sending your Son Jesus to die on the cross for my sin. I want to be your child. Please come into my heart and forgive me of all my sins. I want to live for you alone. Thank you for making my heart your home. Amen.” 
In the Bible, in John 1:12, if you honestly prayed that prayer, this is God’s promise to you: “…to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God–” 
If you have prayed this prayer with all your heart, you are now a member of God’s family. You are His child! You now can know for sure that God will hear and answer your prayers. 

Teaching...

Basic hygiene keeps sickness and infection from spreading

For many of us in the United States, washing our hands is a part of everyday cleanliness. But for the little ones in Malawi, it has been saving lives. Curable sicknesses and infections, which could have easily been prevented by basic hygiene, are claiming lives in large numbers all throughout Sub Sahara Africa.

According to UNICEF, on average, a Malawian child will experience six bouts of diarrhea a year, and 20 percent of deaths in infants and children under the age of five are due to diarrhea. The main causes are the use of contaminated water, as well as unhygienic practices in food preparation and sanitation disposal.

The Malawi Ministry of Health states that “adoption of improved hand-washing will reduce occurrences of cholera, diarrhoea, pneumonia and malnutrition, which are among the maladies that claim the lives of children in Malawi.”

Help SAFE bring these basic hygiene practices to villages all over Malawi, see the Get Involved or Donate Section to see how you can help.

Fertilizer Distribution Project

Fertilizer in Makungula

It is hard to imagine just how important fertilizer is to a gogo grandmother or grandfather. At this time in their lives they were expecting their children to be caring for them… but instead many have had to watch their children die, mostly due to HIV/AIDS, and now they are caring for the grandchildren left behind. They grow everything they eat on a small plot of land, and because the land is so depleted it takes fertilizer to bring a good harvest. They mostly grow maize from which they make Nsima (the thing that fills the stomach). They break the ground up using a short handled hoe, preparing the furrows for planting the seeds. Of course, then the rains must come and months later, the sun must shine to dry the cobs on the stalk. 
This is Makungula village where gogos who are registered in a gogo group have come to get their bag of fertilizer. This scene is being repeated in all of our sponsored villages. Most of the gogos are illiterate and they sign for their bag or the money to purchase it with their thumb print. If the harvest is good they will eat and so will the children in their care. This program is possible because of sponsorships of gogos in villages by people in the U.S. and recently the UK.

WhyWait??

The abstinence based curriculum in action

After training the teachers in Mzuzu in June of 2008, Team Malawi observed a head master demonstrating the strategies we taught the previous week. He also used the Kids Around the World flannel graph to explain the lesson of the Good Samaritan. Many of the students were wide eyed, having never been taught with a flannelgraph. Then, as GLAD teaching highly promotes, he asked some students to act out the story in front of the class. It was very impressive that after only a short two day training experience, he was able to implement multiple strategies into one hour long lesson. As American teachers, we were always amazed at how diligent the Malawian teachers are about truly teaching and engaging with their students. They love what they do and literally work as hard as they can to ensure their students can pass the end of the year exams to continue to the next grade.

After the lesson we were invited to the head master’s office for snacks and to discuss the lesson. He truly wanted to know what he did well and what he could improve on. Ironically, as a principal he was not in the classroom any more, but choose to attend the conference and teach the lesson in order to provide the information to his staff. It was very humbling to hear most teachers and headmasters say that they valued our opinions because we areAmericans. The team, however, recognized that these Malawian teachers are trained well, but do not have all the resources available in the States. Sadly, the teachers there have very limited resources, most classrooms have only one textbook and most students share a desk, which is obviously vastly different from American classes. 

As you can see in this picture, the WhyWait? Life skills curriculum is being implemented. WhyWait? has been so effective in decreasing dropout rates that it is being implemented in many African countries. To learn more about the WhyWait? program, click here.