When our first team went to Malawi five years ago they were taken to a town called Ntchisi – a two hour drive from the capital Lilongwe. They went with Francis Mkandawire, the General Secretary of the Evangelical Association of Malawi to see the work that was being done by a consortium of churches working with people living with HIV/Aids.
The team entered a room filled with Malawians from Christian and Muslim beliefs who explained what it was like to be a people with no hope. They did not beg, they did not plead, they just explained how difficult life was for them. Banks would not lend them money as their life expectancy was unknown. They were unable to find paid employment when there was an abundance of potential employees who did not have HIV/Aids so why would employers take the risk of employing someone who could become ill. There was also still the stigma attached to those who carried this virus.
Upon the team’s return to the UK a plan was executed whereby £3000 was sent over to start a microloan scheme. It took some time to get the programme established but within a year 30 people had received business-start-up training and they had been given loans of £60 each. A manager was appointed who visited the recipient regularly and who was responsible for ensuring that the loans were repaid.
When some of the team revisited the next year there were tears of joy. Lives had been transformed. Loans had been repaid. Families had been able to send their children to school. Homes had tin roofs. Families were eating a balanced diet. These were now a people with hope.
Since then St Peter’s has sent out money each year to replenish the fund and to expand it so that now it encompasses a youth project. Young people with HIV/Aids were getting into trouble as the had nothing to do. They are now trained as tin-smiths and wicker-weavers and their lives have be turned around – along with a more settled community.
As of 2015 there have been a total of 566 beneficiaries with no defaulters.
Each year the team visits the project and sees first-hand the many and varied businesses that have been set up. This is Christianity in action.
Here are some videos from our visits.
Ntchisi pastor commitment for loans for the future
A Big Thank You
You can also watch the videos below for several interviews about the scheme, filmed during our visits to Malawi.