October 2022 Sarah Masson-Mkandawire Update
We have been back on the field for a year with my family. Our two-year-old son has found his groove with friends and grown-ups around our home here at Iris Malawi. I continue to mentor and advise our young adults in making life and educational decisions.
In my last update, I wrote the following goal that remains foremost in my heart.
I have been asked to continue to assist our graduates in finding schools and programs where they can receive a quality education with the best chance of success at getting a job at the end of their education. We discuss and assess their aspirations and their interests to understand where they can fit in the best possible way. I would love to see all our students in the future with a way for them to be financially independent. My personal goal for our students is to see them thriving in their communities in the future, being able to earn for themselves, and being admired for their good character. At the end of it all, to see our young people in a job that gives them independence and freedom to make their own choices about their lives is the fruit that I look forward to seeing. Removed from poverty, showed love and care to shift to a fully adjusted life as a healthy, successful part of society. Escaping poverty is the drive that keeps our young people moving forward. It's a shift that we can see in our older students, who now know who they are and what they want to be. - April 2022
It has been a great year to see students graduate from their post-secondary programs. After covid cancelled graduation ceremonies, we were delighted to attend many this year to support the milestones and incredible achievements of our students. The students that started the post-secondary program at Iris Malawi are now beginning their lives outside college and university.
- Tembo graduated with his Degree in Finance and is now gainfully employed and getting married this year.
- Enida celebrated her graduation from her Diploma in Media and Journalism.
- Isaac found his dream career job with the wildlife of Malawi. He is learning from the top sought birder in all of Malawi.
- Tatenda graduated with his ABE UK Diploma in Community Development and is currently serving in an internship social work role at Iris Malawi.
- James Marco got employed as a personal driver for a health representative in the city of Blantyre.
- Idah graduated with her Diploma in Hospitality Management and is working full-time at a data centre in Lilongwe, waiting for the best Hospitality job that she can find.
[A day of celebration all around!]
Additionally, I have provided employment advice to a few of our young adults who are sorting out their first year being employees. I have helped write and edit many resumes and documents to give our students the extra assistance needed where job counselling is lacking in the current system.
In this climate, many students and young people take whatever job or school program is offered to them out of desperation. However, in our program, we aim to find careers, jobs, and school programs that will help the students be joyfully and gainfully employed, working towards the betterment of their society and country. I keep in touch with Iris graduates and students who have moved outside the base walls but still welcome encouragement in their search.
[One of our current graduates.]
Aside from working with our young adults, I often find myself with the smallest and youngest on the base as our son spends time with these little ones.
Intercession on WhatsApp continues. We have an international group that receives messages and prayer requests from our ministry on the ground. Please message me if you would like to join.
Our Hospitality department has started to grow in new and interesting ways. This past week we hosted a group of five young Malawians who work for Young Life Malawi and want to start groups in the schools down here. We are thankful to see young life (no pun intended) brought back into our visitors centre, and, the fruit of another Christian organization revealed through their staff.
Some of the first Young Life employees in Malawi are in my husband Chenela's age group. It's been exciting to see the fruit of their labour. It is like enjoying what the future of our Iris children will be able to accomplish in their lives after being in a loving environment that has been willing to mentor and disciple.
After two years, we were again able to host a country-wide conference here in Bangula. We welcomed a team of 10 from South Africa, including one of our Iris Global leaders, Surprise Sithole. They preached their hearts out for transformation to happen within Malawi and fully committed hearts - Jesus alone being the primary focus.
[Surprise and another member of the South African team - with Joanna Morrison and Sarah.]
On September 10th, I took three runners to participate in a fundraiser run to help save the trees in Zomba, Malawi. Fagrace placed third in the women’s 5k! It was a great experience for them to see how a run is hosted and how funds are raised etc., on top of learning about the reforestation projects in Malawi. It was one of the boy's first times being out of our village since 2017!
The run is a start to promoting reforestation. It’s important to us here in the valley of Nsanje, Malawi, because deforestation adds to the terrible and destructive floods experienced yearly during the rainy season. Last year our friends and community experienced six traumatic cyclones in one rainy season.
Along with regular life, we have been able to mentor and job train four young adults and students who have been looking after our two-year-old while I have accomplished my day job on the base. It is hard for our son to get used to shifting from one caregiver to the next, but we believe that it’s beneficial for our family, as well as the students we have employed; training them with basic transferable job skills for their futures.