April 2013 Southern Malawi Ministry Centre Update

Our youngest child is 6 months and our oldest 18. In between we hit every age and every stage. We have temper tantrums and we have changing hormones. We have those who are learning to walk, and those who are learning to fly. Our newest girls are settling in so well with their house mother, Ruth. A few weeks ago all 72 kids were out in the field harvesting beans. It was wonderful to watch them working together, laughing and chatting as they worked.  

[Youngest with oldest]

Every house has a garden which they plant and tend and harvest. Their crops include leafy greens, tomatoes, maize, and peanuts. Farming is an essential skill for these kids, and one our house parents are happy to pass on. 

[Iris kids harvesting ground nuts]

As the weather begins to cool, there is more physical activity around the base. Running Club is in full swing. It is great to hear the kids cheering each other on.  Our boys are learning to share the football field with our new girls football team. Netball games are a regular part of our week. 

[Running Club]

Our Standard 8, Form 2 and Form 4 students are preparing for national exams. This means study hall at our house most nights. These exams are significant for future direction. Our Primary School students did very well in the mock exams, and we are expecting good results at the end of this month. We are always looking for ways to improve and have chosen to include British Curriculum over the next few years. This is an important step for equipping our kids for further education. 

[Standard 4 class]
[Iris Primary School]
[Walking home from school]

This month we have our first ever class of 30 women at our Bible School. From Day 1 the women have been so keen to learn all that they can. They are up early and ready on time for class. They have been learning about ministry with children, healthy living, Christian family, prayer, Christian business principals, and gender issues. They are so excited to be here and so hungry to learn. These women will be catalysts for change in their communities, and it will be exciting to see the fruit.

[Women's Bible School]

2013 had a different beginning. The significant rainy season made up for the seven month drought that we experienced last year. 978mm of rain fell on Bangula over the last four months, unparalleled with rainy seasons of the past ten years. In Bangula area the rain caused localized flooding, destruction of some homes and crops, and unfortunately took a few lives as well, after being swept into raging rivers. The moist humid weather has increased the mosquito population, and with that, the surge of people sick with malaria.  However, frequent rain through the planting season has benefited local subsistent farmers in encouraging the growth of crops such as maize, millet and sorghum. The harvest at hand is the best in years, providing relief from what has been an arduous hunger season.  Still there are those unable to provide enough for themselves, the most vulnerable, the crippled, the blind, the orphaned and the sick. Iris Africa continues to provide for these people monthly through the food distribution program. We are thankful for the resources that are sent, enabling us to continue this important program.  

[Blind woman and her children receive food]

[Main Highway in Malawi that heads to Bangula during February flooding]