Sustainable options in Malawi

written by Brad Livengood

In the past, African missions have been largely supported through contributions from the West. Although funding has been appreciated, African missionaries are starting to look at the future and think about what would happen if the financial support stopped.

This question kick started OM’s implementation of a new concept, in which projects and workers are funded through self-sustainable initiatives. 

The new OM Malawi field leader wasted no time in addressing the issue and sat down with each worker to discuss ways in which they can work together to become more self-sustainable.

Though this concept is a key driving force, the organisation upholds its main focus of transforming lives and communities with the gospel. In many instances, through becoming self-sustainable, the workers are able to accomplish both.

Increasing crop yields and honey

Recently, two workers with OM Malawi, Stephano Mushaya and Francis James, were sent to partner organisation Crown Ministries to attend its Stewardship School. At the school they participated in a course that teaches farming methods using organic fertiliser that significantly increases crop yields. 

“It makes us to be self-sustainable,” testifies Francis. “This year at home we haven’t money for buying fertiliser, but through what we learnt we can make compost manure and apply on our garden. We can harvest a lot of maize.” 

They also learnt about bee keeping and how to create a business selling honey. This was a revelation for them, as many locals view bees negatively. Francis states, “I learnt that: no bees, no fruit—no fruit, no life.” He goes on to say, “[They] make good honey. And that honey we harvest and we put in the bottle and sell. It gives us income.” 

Community transformation

After returning from the course Stephano immediately started a compost heap and is teaching others in his village the techniques that he learnt. “I will use every effort so that the community can be changed now. They can use this new style of farming.”

Not only is it his goal to transform the way the village farms to meet the physical needs, Stephano desires to add the gospel and discipleship to the teachings and practices.

Before starting the work with other villagers he desires to gather the group for prayer. Then when finishing the work, he wants to gather them again to thank God. “And before I train others I need to share the Word of God so that people will be faithful to avoid what has happened before to our parents Adam and Eve,” he says. 

The workers also recently received training on managing personal finances. They learnt bookkeeping, planning and budgeting skills so they can properly handle the resources God has given them. 

Continue for generations

OM Malawi hopes to see projects funded through self-sustainable endeavours as well. Currently the field leader is shopping for a piece of land on which to build a “model farm”. The model farm would be a place where Farming Foundations can be taught to Malawians, and they can see just how plentiful the yields can be.

The food from the farm would be used to feed the children at the new Chiyembekezo School that OM Malawi recently opened. Children at the school are fed two meals per day, which is more than they often get at home.

For workers to become self-sustainable while at the same time work towards community transformation is a big undertaking. It’s going to take hard work and patience. Some ideas will work while others won’t. Mistakes will be made. Lessons will be learnt. Ultimately, though, they know it’s worth the effort and will allow God’s work to continue for generations.  

A national worker waters trees at the OM Malawi base.

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