June 2016 Southern Malawi Ministry Centre Update
The Iris base in Southern Malawi is always growing and changing. The biggest development over the last year has been finishing the Joe Martin Skills Training Centre. This is our largest building project yet, and required many skilled hands and minds. It is a structure which is equipped with tools and space for teaching all kinds of trades. One of my personal joys was seeing David Dyck (mastermind engineer/designer behind many of our buildings) install the tools from his father’s workshop. What a legacy!
[David Dyck finishing off the tool room.]
[Joe Martin Skills Training School (front view).]
In the coming years, we hope to provide training for electricians, plumbers, mechanics, tailors, brick layers, carpenters and welders. There is no other such facility south of Blantyre, and we have received encouragement from TEVET, the national board for certifying skilled trade schools.
We now have 8 secondary school graduates. Two are living in the community, one is working in Blantyre, one more is attending John Paul II Leadership Training Centre, and one more has been selected to teacher training college. Opportunities are scarce and much creativity and courage will be required for these young graduates. We are thankful for the caring people at a Canadian business that have initiated a designated fund for post-secondary education.
[Graduating standard 8 class, teachers and parents, May 2016.]
All of our 27 secondary students are presently home. As they get older, the transition back into family life is more challenging for everyone. But, just because something is hard does not mean it is not good. Sharp edges get rubbed off. Humility is learned. Grace is given and received. We grow as a family. While these young men and women are home, we will be discussing placements for next year. We made some good moves last year and need the same wisdom for the coming year.
[Secondary students 2015/16 year.]
Our Primary School continues to thrive. We are very thankful for a core of committed teachers who give their all to the students. They can often be found here on weekends, playing football, or hanging out with students and house parents. This year, our Primary School and in particular one of our teachers, was featured in the Cambridge magazine. This recognition provided great encouragement to the team. We anticipate at least 50 learners from the surrounding villages will join our 50 Iris students next year.
[Iris primary school teacher who was featured in the Cambridge education magazine.]
[Iris primary school grade 5 classroom.]
Conditions in Malawi have gone from bad to worse. The flood that struck early in 2015 had a devastating effect on the economy and infrastructure. In the wake of the storm, people in the southern districts were left in a vulnerable state which was made worse by the El Nino related drought that impacted the 2015/2016 planting season. Insufficient rain and extreme high temperatures spoiled the crops, leaving them stunted and fruitless. With food security threatened, panic escalated in our community. The rapidly devaluing local currency (Malawi Kwacha) has contributed to a record high price of maize which is the staple food. People are hungry, and it is single mothers, young children and the elderly who are suffering the most.
As six million Malawians are in need of food assistance, we are thankful for containers arriving full of Manna Pack fortified rice/soy meals. Out from the cloud of despair hope has come. As people receive they are quick to say ‘thank you,' praising the Lord for answering their prayers. Their faith has increased for they know that the Lord has heard their cry. We continue to pray that God will multiply the 'bread and the fish' as we give thanks. hose who receive often share with their neighbours and so the gift is stretched.
[Mother and her children assisted at the Iris Africa food distribution program.]
[Manna Pack rice/soy meals being served to children in the village.]