Day after day they appeared at the gate, eager, anxious and hopeful. Their eyes revealed it all. “Will my child get accepted?” the women silently wondered.
For over a month, mothers brought their children to be considered for admittance to OM Malawi’s first class of its new primary school in mid-October.
The OM Malawi field leaders wanted to accept children who were five years old and from the toughest backgrounds, something not easily distinguishable in the eighth poorest country in the world. Orphans were accepted first, followed by children with just one parent.
The mothers, eager for their children to receive an education and be fed two meals per day, often lied about the age or background of their children. Through working with local village leaders and its workers from Malawi, OM discovered the children’s real ages and accepted 16 for its first class.
Many of the children have lost one or both parents to HIV and AIDS. A few others’ mothers had died during childbirth. Two of the mothers, just 13 and 14 years old, were still children themselves. Many of the children live with their grandparents, others with their aunts. Many have no idea who or where their fathers are.
The school has been named Chiyembekezo which is Chichewa for “hope”. Teacher Catherine Chipoya, who has previously worked as an OM missionary teacher for OM Lake Tanganyika, testifies, “My passion is working in the community with the children … I know this is the right time for me to be here. And God’s will will be done in this place, and His name will be glorified even through the lives of the children.”
The day before the start of the school, God gave Catherine a Scripture of promise: “… Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished. The divisions of the priests and Levites are ready for all the work on the temple of God, and every willing person skilled in any craft will help you in all the work … ” (1 Chronicles 28:20-21; NIV).
Catherine feels that for her life she could substitute “service of the temple” for “service of the school”.
OM Malawi praises the Lord for the opportunity to open the school, and sees it as the Lord’s project and not a work of the people. They feel strongly that God is in control and wish that the glory goes to Him.