Malawi Background

Malawi is currently the only country where resident missionaries still reside. Alan and Sandra Skene have been in Malawi since July 2000 and have seen God working in the country in miraculous ways, on their arrival in the country there were already around 200 churches established.

Their main work therefore, has been to develop the Pastors/church leaders both on a spiritual and administrative level and ultimately to bring them to the point of being able to run the church without the presence of a missionary. A lot of their time is taken up with training on various levels – eldership, ladies’ training, Sunday School teachers, Bible teaching and visiting the church branches all around the country. Some are in towns and cities but most are in villages, the Sunday journeys can be anything from one to four hours travelling time!

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Living in Kakuma Camp

The camp serves people from many neighbouring countries who have been forcibly displaced from their homes due to war or persecution,  many are young people whose parents have been killed and have no where else to go. The camp at first seems an answer to their desperate cries for help, providing security, food, shelter and a roof over their heads, but these hopes are short lived, as reality of life in Kakuma soon becomes evident.

The camp itself is based in a challenging environment, temperatures often reaching over 40 degrees Celsius, dust storms, poisonous spiders and scorpions, along with malaria and cholera outbreaks being part of everyday life. The arid, semi desert region giving no means to grow food and little opportunity to earn any income in which it's inhabitants can support themselves.

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Each nationality has an area within the camp to live, not only to make them feel at home but also so conflicts between cultures are minimised. Even then complete protection is not guaranteed as arson attacks, vandalism and theft from buildings are common place. The camp is a dangerous place to live especially for those who are alone. Many are still scarred from the traumas they have suffered in their home countries, so friendships and trust are hard to build.

The refugees live in houses made out of mud which are covered with polythene sheets, these are usually built by the refugees themselves when they are admitted to Kakuma. At the beginning and middle of the month each person collects food from the food distribution sites in the camp, this must last fifteen days but often it does not.

Once admitted to the camp refugees have no freedom, they are not allowed to seek education or employment outside of it. Inside this small city at the edge of the desert, children age into adulthood and hope fades to resignation.

Many agencies work in the camp including United Nations High Commission for Refugees, the World Food Programme, (the only distributor of food in the camp), and many other agencies who work out of a small compound. However with approximately one thousand new refugees arriving at the camp every month demand always exceeds supply.

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The aid taken by ActionOverseas, which was raised during the annual conference, Ablaze 2011 and supplemented by further support from local churches, was received with great appreciation and included maize, beans, rice, sugar, salt, soap, oil, tea and medical supplies. The supplies in total filled a 20 tonne lorry, the sacks of maize alone enough to feed 750 people, 3 meals a day for 6 weeks.....that's 100,000 meals. Although the pastors were unable to personally deliver all food due to camp restrictions, they did take supplies to foster families who were overwhelmed with the quantity of food they were given and found it difficult to comprehend what had been done to achieve the delivery of all the aid.  

Malawi Profile

Malawi is a densely populated country with little development; there are cycles of drought then heavy rainfall. Aids is widespread. The country is heavily dependent on agriculture and so particularly vulnerable to global markets and local weather.

76% of the country are Christian and 16% Muslim with the remainder being other faiths. They live peacefully together and although the country faces challenges, Christian ministry and national development continues to develop unhindered.

However training for pastors and workers is desperately needed in order to meet the needs of the rapidly growing churches. Financial provision for students is paramount as they are unable to pay for theological training. The grip of poverty also hampers development in terms of education, family life and discipleship. The role of missionaries in Malawi is still greatly needed in order for the country to cope with the serious challenges the future may bring.

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