Flights are booked!! Kara is going to join Herb, Sue and I on the trip to Malawi in February! We feel this will give us both time together to discern next steps, as well as be present for each other as we ask questions and sort out details on housing, health care, and schools as well as vocation. I believe Kara has already been signed up to teach several classes during our first few days in the country.
On the evening of 11/1 we hosted a gathering of 20 or so folks who have either been to Malawi or are supporting efforts there now. We are forming a group called “United Methodist Friends of Malawi” whose purpose is to share ideas and energy toward efforts in support of the UMC in Malawi and its four areas of focus: training leaders, building churches, reducing poverty, and improving health. Belmont UMC has designated this year’s Christmas miracle offering to building 10 churches in Malawi in 2009-2010. The goal is to raise $30,000 in support of this mission.
I’ve been doing some research and thinking about childhood education. Some scholars and NGO leaders (ones I happen to believe) say that the key to eradicating global poverty is providing education for the teenage girl. The idea is that it is the young woman who makes the most important choices about how many children to raise, how to care for her family, and how to support the family financially. By educating young girls, so the thinking goes, you can break the cycle of poverty by increasing literacy, quality of life, and economic conditions for the entire family and community. I am very energized by this idea. I also think that it would fit well with the UMC of Malawi and Belmont UMC’s goals of building churches in rural villages throughout the country over the next couple of years. I wonder if those churches could be used for more than worship? As we raise funds to build structures might we also ensure that the village, already committed to providing labor and materials for the church, has a salaried teacher and supplies so the children can attend school? Could we build a sustainable and scalable model and improve literacy rates?