Healthcare, Projects, Agriculture, Education
Bunches in Malawi
Mission from the heart
CHANGING LIVES, TRANSFORMING COMMUNITIES JULY 2013
LINKS INTERNATIONAL ‘LINKS’ WITH PARTNERS IN THE WEST AND IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES TO INSPIRE, EDUCATE, EMPOWER AND RESOURCE INDIVIDUALS AND COMMUNITIES TO BREAK FREE FROM POVERTY AND DISEASE. LINKSINTERNATIONAL.ORG.UK
Links continues to work with local partners in many nations around the world. So why a Malawi issue? One very simple reason is that we recently completed a very successful Links Team Trip to that nation with a large team. We have so many stories to share that we need a whole magazine to do it! However, the other important reason is because that trip exemplified so much of what we are now doing with our various partners. So sit back, relax and let us take you on a journey to a land over 7000 miles away where you will meet just some of the very special people with whom we are privileged to work.
EDITORIAL TEAM Andy Read // Lynda Hubbard // Liz Brooks
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Lynda Hubbard Editorial Mission Community Healthcare Micro-Enterprise Agriculture London Marathon Links Gifts Donor Appeal Education Leadership Youth Leadership Marriage Projects Kingdom Resources Information Gala Fundraising Dinner
DESIGN Sam Hubbard Design
By the time you read this magazine it will be nearly three years since Rich Hubbard, my husband and then CEO of Links International, passed away. It has been a time of both heartbreak and challenge for us as a family as well as for Links. But it has also been a valuable time of learning to trust God, pushing through the good and the bad, a time of discovering God’s gift of unsurpassing peace in adversity and a time of amazing change and growth. Nothing stands still and, as Andy Read has taken on the role of CEO and embraced the vision and heart of Links, more and more opportunities have presented themselves to continue the invaluable work of changing lives and transforming communities across the world. In this particular edition of the magazine we have focussed on just one geographical area of our work – Malawi. Doors are continuing to open here, allowing Links countless possibilities to help those in need. From a piggery in Mzuzu and ‘miracle’ Moringa trees in Lilongwe to word games in Blantyre and role play in Chapsinja – the teams have had the chance to get involved in a whole range of projects, teaching and training. We hope you enjoy reading all about it! You will also see that earlier this year we had seven runners who took part in the Virgin London Marathon to raise funds for Links International (page 14). We are so grateful for all the hard work and dedication that they put in, with months of training through the wind and the rain, followed by the sheer grit, determination and physical exertion on the day itself. What an achievement to reach that finishing line! I cannot help but be reminded again of the ‘race’ that we are running, both in our own spiritual lives and in all we are aiming to achieve in the work of Links. In everything that we do, let us never forget or lose sight of our goal, but ‘Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith’ (Hebrews 12: 1-2). He is, after all, the reason that we live.
Lynda Hubbard Office Manager
MISSION MISSION FROM THE HEART As someone reading this magazine, the chances are that you have some fairly clear ideas about mission. However, there is still quite a lot of misunderstanding out there in the Christian community regarding the subject. One thought that may be familiar is the idea that ‘mission’ is something that we – Christians – are given as a ‘job’ by God. God sits in heaven – and we get on with the tasks allocated by him. This is not how I see mission. Theologians refer to a Latin phrase – Missio Dei – which simply means ‘God’s Mission’. The understanding behind it is that God himself is on a mission, reaching out to a world in need. A writer named Christopher Wright puts it much better than I can when he says, “It is not so much that God has a mission for his church in the world, as that God has a church for his mission in the world. Mission was not made for the church; the church was made for mission - God’s mission.” (Christopher Wright; The Mission of God: ISBN-13: 978-1844741526)
We are called to join in with God’s activity in His world – activity that we know is motivated by love (c.f. John 3:16!). That being the case, love should be behind all that we do that we label ‘mission’. Our mission should flow from the heart. Some years ago I was introduced to a tool designed to help us shine a spotlight on our behaviour. Devised by an Australian couple named Stephen and Mara Klemich, this tool is being used in many parts of the world in both church and corporate settings. As an accredited facilitator for these materials I have utilised them on several Links mission trips, in many different settings. The essence of HeartLife is that we can either behave motivated by Pride and Fear (below the line behaviour), or motivated by Humility and Love (above the line). The Indicator that helps to measure this looks like this.
On our most recent visit to Malawi I used the fundamental ideas within HeartLife to encourage first a group of village chiefs, and then a group of pastors to examine how they led in their respective spheres. What motivated them? What did that lead to? On both occasions this led to a powerful crescendo, with the groups literally ‘walking out’ crossing a line to show their determination to lead in an ‘above the line’ way. In both cases it was hard to keep tears from the eyes and control a catch to my voice as I led them through and prayed blessing on their decisions. Fantastic stuff – but also personally challenging, as I was led once more to think about my own motivations – and those of Links International. You see, it is possible to behave in ways that can look quite similar, whether we are motivated by pride or by humility. When we go to a rural situation in Africa to bring training, do we go with a feeling of superiority, or with an understanding that the people we meet know more about some areas of life than we will
ever understand? When we go, do we do so motivated by love – or by a desire to be seen to be doing the ‘right thing’ – in other words, driven by fear? The reality is of course that it is very difficult for any of us to say that our motives are entirely pure – but the challenge is to be aiming for the best. So my determination as CEO of Links is that we operate from a place of humility. This means that we will recognise where we need to develop and be transformed. We will be reliable and authentic, wanting to be the very best that we can be, achieving all that God has planned for us. We should also be motivated by love – carrying out our mission from the heart. We will work relationally, encouraging those we meet with a commitment to help us to develop as we go with compassion. Above all, we will be motivated by the amazing love of our loving heavenly Father.
Andy Read CEO
COMMUNITY HEALTHCARE TRAINING LOCAL HEALTHCARE NEEDS One of the bigger teams on the latest trip covered the area of community healthcare (CHC), including food and nutrition - and below is a summary of what they covered: In each region, the initial needs assessment identified similar topics for teaching: • Mental Health • Meningitis • Epilepsy • High blood pressure, including stroke and heart attack • Goitre • Chickenpox • Cancer • Asthma and pneumonia including TB In each region, alcohol and the smoking of cannabis are a big problem, leading to poverty, domestic violence, prostitution, illegitimate children, AIDS and other venereal diseases, gambling, accidents and death. In Mzuzu, a drama showed the problem in the home and gave a solution involving the community. This will
be used when teaching in the wider communities. Teaching centred on discussing the disease itself; its threefold elements, namely physical, mental and spiritual; the procedure for confronting the sufferer; and the solution achieved by forming self-help groups following the Twelve Step Program for the affected persons as well as family members. Depression and anxiety were other topics for teaching. Post-natal depression is a particular problem and the Malawi government adopts the policy that women should give birth in the towns
near to hospital, if not in the hospital itself, in case they need a Caesarean section. Women prefer not to because of bullying and insistence that they should submit to sterilisation. This issue was discussed and a means of dealing with the problem was explored. Epilepsy was discussed in terms of it being a physical illness, not demonic, its various forms and how to care for an unconscious patient. On our first morning in Lilongwe, we watched two healthcare educators from Biwi teach about cleanliness and good motherhood; the teaching was very good and was based on what we had shared last year. These villagers then performed a drama for us to describe the problems in their village. We were astonished when they enacted the same problems with alcohol as at Mzuzu! This teaching saw 29 men and women acknowledge their situation, with their spouses being taught separately. Three
COMMUNITY HEALTHCARE TRAINING
alcohol/drug groups, and a separate group for family members, are planned and, as Pastor Alex had translated a simplified version of the Twelve Step Program into Chichewa, these were made available. Some of the men from last year’s course are now sober and well dressed. Accounts confirm that they now motivate the men in the villages; as overcomers they are true chiefs. Once again, in Blantyre, as part of the mental illness topic the issues of alcohol and drug addiction were explored, as were their relationship to poverty, violence and prostitution. Teaching proceeded as before and four men acknowledged their problem and received separate teaching and materials with the aim of establishing selfhelp groups.
Pat & Chris Blackburn
Food and nutrition training This part of our CHC training took place in Mzuzu, Chapsinja and Blantyre.
Each set of sessions started with a needs assessment and analysis of the current food issues. We spent time understanding how, what and why they cook the way they do and then how we could improve their diet. Much of the training was common across the regions. An easy to remember illustration is the ‘Nutrition House’ which illustrates carbohydrates as the house’s foundation, proteins as the bricks, oils and fats as the cement and vitamins and minerals as the roof. We used our food cards to work out what attendees had access to and cooked on
a regular basis - usually Nsima, the local staple food with some vegetables and occasionally fish or meat. We separated them into the different food groups (the eat well plate) so everyone could see how adding foods from different groups would give a more balanced diet and how it related to the ladies’ particular concerns such as feeding the elderly and under-fives. The team explained the principle of “Five a day” and how important variety in fruit and vegetables is. They then covered how to cook safely, how to use less oil, salt and sugar when cooking, how to steam vegetables and why they should be cooked less. Other popular ideas included using vegetable water in other cooking to benefit from the nutrients and bulk buying together to save money. Snacking was a problem in some areas and so raw vegetables and fruit were promoted as better alternatives, as was making juice from fruit or preserving/ drying them. Continued over
COMMUNITY HEALTHCARE TRAINING CONTINUED In Mzuzu, the attendees wanted to know what’s best to eat and how to keep their children healthy. Meals are mostly cooked on an open fire, using separate pots for each type of food, but cooked one pot at a time. In Chapsinja the main problems with food include a cooking knowledge, access to a variety of food and the cost of food. Although families grow food, much of what they grew was sold. In the needs assessment they asked about learning to make cakes, samosas and bread because soda, milk, flour, eggs, dried fruit, baking powder, yeast and vanilla are available. The resultant bread making was a great success! As well as teaching them how to make bread, food safety rules were covered. The ladies now want to build their own oven so they can make bread themselves and have produced an action plan with details of how they will pay for it. These delegates even had a couple of ideas of
how they could make a steamer. Time in Blantyre was very limited so training could not be as detailed, but all four villages still did an action plan.
This was my first trip to Africa and my first opportunity to teach volunteer community health workers. It was also my first time to work with a fantastic and diverse group of volunteer teachers, most of whom I’d never met before. If I had to summarise the whole experience into two words, they would be “privilege” and “learning”. A privilege to meet the villagers and to be so readily welcomed into their lives; a privilege to be able to do what I enjoy - teaching health matters; a privilege to meet in fellowship and share with all those on mission with me, and most of all, the privilege to grow in God. I learnt a huge amount about various things including, Africa, myself, others and God. All this in eighteen days left me feeling
tired but fulfilled and ready to seek out what adventure God has planned for me next.
COMMUNITY HEALTHCARE TRAINING
Joining the Links Team in Malawi was one of the best things I could have done with two weeks of my time and the remainder of my gap-year budget! It truly was a privilege to work with such an amazing group of people to further the work that God is doing in these communities. I was touched by the huge difference that such a small input of knowledge could achieve when it was invested in those determined to overcome their own poverty, and the poverty of those around them. I was largely helping with the nutrition and cooking training and it was so exciting to help develop that programme. My definite highlight was a morning spent in the village of Chapsinja, teaching our group to make bread. These women now want to build an oven together so that they can bake bread to sell and earn their own income.
MICRO-ENTERPRISE BUILDING LOCAL BUSINESSES The trip was split into three separate parts – Northern, Central and Southern regions and the training aimed to prepare four MED committees (Machinjiri, Chadzunda, Maziabango and Mpemba), to administer a loan fund. Subjects covered over the three days included ‘What makes a good business owner?’, ‘What must an MED committee consider?’ and business processes. The teaching teams linked together very well, especially around agricultural development where there were several crossovers into nutrition and health. There is clear and encouraging progress since previous trips and strong evidence of improved local empowerment. Blantyre’s programme trained potential new members for an MED Committee. This was the first specific MED training in this region so it covered the basics. The Biwi training helped new, hopeful and fledgling beneficiaries as well as
building on previous training to the MED committee. This programme is still in its infancy, having only been established since the September 2012 trip. In Mzuzu, the well-established MED programme has successfully run through many cycles over the past two years. Nonetheless, the unstable economy in Malawi means even successful businesses need to adapt. This training looked at how to overcome such difficulties. Our partners received the funds needed to set up four bank accounts – one for each village committee. Once these committees have finalised their rules, appointed officers and opened their bank account, they can contact Links for their initial loan funds. If committees can show that funds are being administered appropriately during our September visit, further funding will be added.
Lina Read & John Race
MICRO-ENTERPRISE BUNCHES AND LINKSâ€™ MED INITIATIVES The key to success is to bring together benefactors/sponsors (Bunches) with those who have the vision and skill to identify communities and projects to which we can maximize our impact. Success can only be achieved at the local level if their leaders also have a great vision and passion for the people they represent. At VIBITAC, we looked at how the committee identified beneficiaries as those with most need (eg those who had taken on other children). It was enlightening to see they had tried to group together beneficiaries so that they helped each other in making sure their businesses survived - and critically that they repaid their loans on time so others could benefit from the recirculation of the monies. We were shown over 90% of the initial investment in the scheme was still in circulation - a clear indication that the
scheme was being administrated correctly. As a donor, we felt we could confidently continue our investments in this area as well as extending it to Kaloulou. The MED committee was encouraged to keep their processes efficient, so as to reach as many of the needy as possible.
Urunji Pig Farm, Mzuzu
With such vision and planning it is very easy to continue investing in this project which we have now just done. I have only covered a couple of areas in which Bunches has had a direct input here, but there are many others. The most important aspect, however, is that when we work with the skills of the Links team, we make a difference.
From a direct investment point of view, success probably looks like this. In the Will Hibbert local pastor Stephen, we had a man with Operations Director, Bunches not just a vision, but a plan. The plan had detail and was ultimately going to be selfsustaining with real benefits to the poorest. We like investments like that. The outline plan had been executed since our visit. The piggery and a family house had been built but, most importantly, the infrastructure had been put in place to ensure the animal husbandry was correct. An expert from World Vision helped enormously.
AGRICULTURE A MALAWIAN AGRICULTURAL ‘TRANSFORMATION’ The Links agriculture programme was started by Richard Emmett last September, at the end of the dry season in the villages around Lilongwe (central Malawi) and southern Blantyre. He updates us here with experiences from his most recent trip. May is the end of the wet season and we were keen to see how the challenges and cultivation opportunities changed with the season, as well as how some of the ideas and ‘Miracle’ Moringa trees planted on the last trip had taken hold. This trip also took the agriculture team to Kande and Mzuzu in northern Malawi for the first time, where both the difference in climate and the presence of the small sea that is Lake Malawi make such a difference. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the ‘urgent priority’ problems we found to be the same up and down the country: families
going hungry due to lack of affordable fertilizer or through lack of land and/ or manpower. This, combined with the ongoing difficulty for some of collecting daily clean water, means life can be very hard for widows, or families without enough land to support their numbers. So we quickly looked to find local Malawian techniques for: • improving crop yields • providing food and nutrients in ways that require little in the way of land or extra hardship • introducing cash crops to facilitate the purchase of fertilizer • improving the storage of maize to protect crops from their main pests: rats and weevils • providing some clean water from rainwater collection in the rainy season to ease hardship
As a result, we now hope to expand the highly successful composting that quadrupled maize yields in Biwi, to Kande, Chapsinga and the four villages to the south of Blantyre. There are also plans to purchase a further 1,000 of the fast growing, nutrient and protein laden African Moringa Olifeira trees for all the villages visited. Additionally, weâ€™d like to extend roof rainwater collection in Kande and introduce it to the Biwi villages, so that they can easily fill their 5,000 litre drums for the community to use. Lastly, the purchase and introduction of a new colonised beehive in Chapsinga was a real trip highlight. Honey is a ready antiseptic, a valuable foodstuff and an important cash crop, whilst the beeswax is useful for candles etc. Helpfully, the colonies require little land or effort once established. A hive has been sourced for the southern villages as well and we will look to spread this source of food and wealth across the area. The trip was hard work but so very worth it. Praise God, Amen!
LONDON MARATHON VIRGIN LONDON MARATHON 2013 ON A SURPRISINGLY SUNNY DAY IN APRIL, 7 LINKS SUPPORTERS RAN THE LONDON MARATHON FOR LINKS…
It was a bit warm wasn’t it?! David Powell (03:27:16) I had a great time at the event…It was a bit hot. I’ve got a bit of sunburn today, and my legs feel like dead weights. Thrilled to have finished though. David Trueman (04:47:21)
As David said - it was a lot warmer than I thought it would be. I really enjoyed the day, although felt quite ‘rough’ in the last 8 miles so had to slow down to a ‘get me home’ mode!! Fantastic crowds and atmosphere all the way round. I think I’d even do it again! Clive Feakin (04:34:17)
At the start line: I can do all things through Him who gives me strength. London marathon, bring it on!!!! Joanne Gisbey (05:27:55)
The occasion was quite fantastic. The Vickers and Links support teams provided well-spaced encouragement throughout the route. Ed (Robin’s son) and I completed the route together, exhausted but happy. Robin Vickers (04:42:09)
Very chuffed! I was not convinced I would manage the distance (I don’t think my physio was either!!) so very happy to be a marathon finisher. David Edmunds (05:24:26)
Last October, whilst sitting at my desk in the Links office, I had the impulsive thought that I’d like to raise money by participating in the London Marathon. Well, after 6 months of training, in some very ‘interesting’ weather, I’ve done it! It was an incredible challenge but a great day. I was so proud to represent Links and the support and encouragement I received was amazing. Paula Orr (07:00:08)
LINKS GIFTS Mosquito Nets – Africa
A new hen will lay about 400 eggs in ten months and excess eggs can be sold.
One net £5.50 Code: 011
One hen £5.50 Hen feed for ten months £11 Code: 001
Moringa Trees - Worldwide
Eggs – Northern Thailand
Malaria kills more people around the world than the AIDS virus and a mosquito net can protect a whole family.
Clean Water – Worldwide
This amazing tree is fast-growing, super-nutritious and antibacterial. We’d like all our partners to have some!
Lifewater Filter Kits kill 99.99% of harmful bacteria, producing ten litres of clean water per hour for a year.
Five trees £10 Code: 023
One kit (including spare candle) provides clean water for more than two years £45 Code: 013
LINKS GIFTS Bicycles – Africa
Bicycles provide essential transport for rural health workers and micro-enterprise managers.
One bicycle £160 Code: 020
Links Air Miles
Donkeys - Kenya
Donkeys help mothers whose only water supply can be two hours walk away.
One donkey including four water carriers: £115 Code: 019
Contribution to Trust Fund
We have calculated that, on average, it costs Links £7.50 per 100 miles to send a central team member to monitor progress at one of our communities.
Our Trust fund pays for the central costs of all that we do and, whilst we aim to be good stewards, core funding is often a challenge.
100 Links Air Miles: £7.50 Code: 022
Sample contribution: £5 Code: 023
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EMAIL: ITEM DESCRIPTION
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I am a UK tax payer and want Links International to reclaim tax on all my donations from the date below onwards. I understand that I must pay sufficient tax to cover the amount reclaimed. I will advise Links if I become a non tax-payer or if I change my name or address.
DATE: please cut along the dotted line
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APPEAL INDIVIDUAL DONOR APPEAL Would you be willing to support the Links International Trust by £5 per month?
As you know, there are more opportunities to help in our partner communities than we can possibly cover, but we are delighted to say that, overall, our work is expanding. We’re incredibly privileged to have a loyal core of supporters who pray, partner and give sacrificially to underpin what we do. Our heartfelt thanks go to every supporter for their continued involvement in our work, especially in difficult times.
Please could we ask you to consider setting up a standing order for £5 per month to help us with our central costs? If you have any questions regarding this appeal, please do not hesitate to contact us. A standing order form has been included with this magazine and it simply needs to be completed and returned to PO Box 198, Littlehampton, BN16 3UQ. Thank you so much for everything you already do in support of Links.
The Links International Team
In the current economic climate, we’re grateful to say that our project funding account has not been significantly affected. However, it has been a challenge for the Links International Trust account (which takes care of our central costs) to keep up with external factors such as unavoidable cost increases, exchange rate fluctuations and a greater overall workload in looking after our growing remit.
EDUCATION TRAINING TEACHING THE TEACHERS Holly Vanstone has recently returned to the UK after many years of teaching in Uganda, but still wants to make a difference in Africa. Here she recounts some of her experiences of our May trip: Malawi is a very beautiful mountainous country and during our two weeks, we travelled its length. There were no days off, but instead we relaxed together as we drove past scenes of everyday rural life. On arrival at our destinations, we all set to work: I had 15 teachers in Mzuzu in the North, for three days of training. We worked in a timber built building which soon became a centre for lots of fun and friendship. One memorable point here was acting out the story of Moses in the bullrushes. I suggested that the soldiers’ group look outside for some suitable weapons. They returned with grim faces and an assortment of tools - pangas, hoes, sticks etc ready to do business. This was serious acting!
Next, we moved on to Lilongwe, where Links works alongside ‘Hope Missions’. This is such an inspiring community that truly represents the Kingdom of God. Reuniting with teachers I trained last September was a joy. They embrace new ideas and skills with great enthusiasm and energy. Inhibitions were cast aside when I asked each ‘pair’ of animals entering the ark, to sound and move as that animal. Roars, grunts, squeals emitted from slithering, scampering or plodding bodies. Learning this way is great fun! Finally, we went to Blantyre in the South, where people’s competitive streak came to the fore! I taught several word games that aid spelling correctly. Delegates loved the challenge each new game presented. Working with teachers that have only a chalkboard and chalk as a resource is quite a challenge for the trainer. I spent time before this trip in preparation and God certainly helped me with some inspirational ideas. Cheap paper plates
became invaluable, used with a small stone as a dice. Sharing a set of simple activities that every child could engage in and also be successful at, avoids teaching to just the few. It was a humbling experience to watch each group of teachers I worked with pray in pairs for each other. They held hands together and committed their life and work to God, knowing the importance God places on children. I felt encouraged that, as well as passing on knowledge and skills, I had imparted encouragement, love and motivation to teams of Christian teachers that are working hard to make a difference through education in Malawi.
LEADERSHIP TRAINING DEVELOPING NEW LEADERS Managing director of Bunches, Dan Turner, returned to Malawi in May and provides his perspective here on the latest leadership training: This was my third trip to Malawi and I must confess that I’m falling a little bit in love with the place. As we stepped from the aircraft in Lilongwe, it felt a little bit like I was coming home. Despite its many challenges, Malawi really is a wonderful country full of striking contrasts. On the one hand it can be astoundingly beautiful and on the other, desperately poor. Arrival in Malawi seems quite surreal on any occasion, but this time was even more bizarre as we were whisked away to enter the country via the VIP route. Suffice it to say that we didn’t get to stay there for long, particularly once the staff received a call to say that Joyce Banda was en route! Having a little experience of Links trips under my belt, I’d been asked to prepare a few sessions on leadership training. In the UK, covering similar material would entail PowerPoint, video clips and projectors. In Malawi I was armed with a flip chart and some sponge balls - you
have to get a little more creative when teaching in rural Africa! This inventive approach to teaching was further endorsed when my handful of planned sessions was quickly extended into days of teaching with a bigger group than I’d anticipated. It was brilliant fun and a great privilege. The delegates ranged from village chiefs with decades of experience, to young people trying to get businesses off the ground. Their educational backgrounds were just as varied and it was humbling to talk about leadership with people so dedicated to their communities. Together, the groups shared their own challenges and successes whilst taking on board a few ideas and techniques from a slightly balding flower seller from the UK. I’d decided on two main focuses for my sessions - character and team building. Most of the material we covered looked at these issues from various angles and I found more uses for foam balls as a teaching aid than I’d ever dreamed possible. It turns out that in Africa, ingenuity is a common leadership skill, but that juggling is not.
When teaching on a subject like leadership, it can be tricky to pinpoint tangible outcomes. You can’t really measure how much the delegates have learned with a test, but I was touched when towards the end of the sessions in Kande a young man asked to stand and give some feedback. Having recently been made chief of a number of villages, he’d heard about the leadership training and travelled from Mzuzu to join us. He shared some of the burden he felt taking on such a large responsibility at a young age. As an hereditary position, he’d had no real training for his new role but wanted to make a difference in his
community. With real humility he fed back on some of the key points he’d found helpful and wanted to pass on to others back home. From his attitude it was clear that he would be a great servant for his people. For the second part of our visit we returned south to Chapsinja and Biwi, not too far from Lilongwe. Whilst Links had been coming to Chapsinja for a couple of years, this was my first visit and it was a real eye opener. Whereas Kande has had a number of years of consistent input, Chapsinja has only really benefitted from two or three - and Biwi even less. The three locations provided a real cross sectional view of the value of ongoing partnership. The varying degrees of development and progress were remarkable. In Chapsinja, it soon became apparent that many of the village chiefs in the leadership sessions hadn’t been educated beyond primary school level. These were smart people, just not schooled to western standards. They very quickly grasped concepts - so once again visual aids became essential tools. We found that switching written words
on flipcharts for pictures, and academic models for role play and mime were very successful. In the end I think I was stretched at least as far as the delegates. If I may offer just one final piece of valuable travel advice for visitors to Malawi it would be this; check for wildlife before using any latrines. It turns out wasps find them suitable real estate for nests too!
Managing Director, Bunches
A creative viewpoint
This was my first trip of this kind and the whole experience was a pleasure to be part of. It is evident that what the team is doing out there is making a real difference and it’s great to be a part of it. The African approach to life means that there is plenty of time to relax and nothing seems to be stressed over. Links trips have time built in to the schedule where it’s possible to step back from the duties and just take in where you are and what is going on.
This also provides invaluable time to spend with your fellow team mates and a chance to get to know some people better. I met some great people and made some genuine friendships with people I probably wouldn’t normally get chance to meet in England. Hearing from other members of the team about how village life had been improved by investment (of both money and time) from Bunches and Links was encouraging and to see the fruits of this investment first hand really does bring home the difference we’re making to people’s lives. I’m sure all the team members would agree that the trip provided an education for us as much as for the Malawians. The attitude of the people and the way they live their lives made me realise how much we stress about little things that just don’t matter. I expected a much more melancholy atmosphere in the villages but barring some obvious obstacles and hindrances they all seemed very content with life.
Senior Creative, Bunches.co.uk
YOUTH LEADERSHIP TRAINING TOMORROW’S LEADERS During the latest Malawi trip, one of our most regular volunteers, Dave Boniface, ran three potted courses on youth development, with 9 attendees in Mzuzu, 10 in Blantyre and 16 in Biwi. The courses covered the areas of: • What is emotional first aid? Defining what your role as a EFA’er will be • E motional ‘stuckness’ (presenting as a disorder) Concentrating on anxiety and depression • Developing your engagement skills Picking up on emotional cues and responding • Enabling strategies of selfmanagement Creating our own emotional tool kit • Assessment of risk What we need to consider when undertaking risk assessments and understanding risk taking behaviours in young people
• L ooking after ourselves Arguably the most important session: identifying the support we need to enable us to do the work we do Like so many experiences in Africa, there are many similarities with Western living - but also many extremes. So it is not without careful reflection that the call to Malawi should be honoured and realised. After some guilt at not being able to be in two places at once and some ‘making things happen’, followed by 25 hours of sleep-punctuated haze and a jet or two, my bewildered feet were once again firmly on rich red-dusted African soil. The dusty five hour trek north to Mzuzu showed the true picture of life here: rampant inflation, poor Forex, and impressive pot-holes - to name but a few of the challenges. Teaching a group of enthusiastic youth workers under the shade of a mango tree also has its challenges. The sheer intensity and power of the sub-Saharan rays, illuminating natural colours to
astonishing intensities while goats, chickens, pigs, and people continue their daily activities around us (and often through us) unabated means distraction and concentration vie in the morning heat. Church on Sunday is always big in the villages. Often doubling as village halls and schools, churches come in many shapes and sizes. There are of course traditional versions left from the heady days of colonialism, but ours is a wood slat extended hut. Loud, long and vibrant are inadequate adjectives to describe the proceedings! Celebrating everything with those who have so little is a truly humbling experience. Meanwhile, a toddler carefully inspected the bare-wire and matchstick connection to the cracked plastic mains socket used for the PAâ€Ś The village of Biwi is only a 40 minute convoluted drive, from the urbanised chaos of Lilongwe. The last 20 minutes off-road is like a time-warp: twin oxen drawn carts, over-laden with bleached-
white corn cobs, grass topped huts, and children chasing chickens in the bright red dust abound. Of course romanticised, sun brightened imageries, only temporarily mask the realities of crushing poverty, poor life expectancy and dreams of running water and electrical power. Then we have the juxtaposition of this with 16 twenty something young people who are grappling enthusiastically with the finer points of emotional and mental health under the shade of a scrawny tree, while a grey speckled mother hen and her eight noisy chicks took their morning walk through my brightly lit alfresco classroom.
hands African style with the crowd of dignitaries and training facilitators, each bowing lower and lower to demonstrate their respect and gratitude.
In each location and after three days of intense teaching and learning, it is customary and expected that a presentation and closing ceremony will take place. Celebrating learning and achievement is highly valued here and for many any form of certification is likely to be a rare, if not a unique experience. Each certificate recipient triple shakes
BIBLE BASED MARRIAGE BUILDING BETTER MARRIAGES This latest trip involved two marriage encounters; the first, at the BeitCure Hospital in Blantyre, was our second encounter with staff there and was fully attended. Twelve couples attended for the first time and the rest had come back to learn more of God’s intent for marriage. Pastor Scriven, our host who is also the Hospital Chaplain and senior member of the hospital management team, told us he actually had people from the previous encounter knocking on his door saying, ‘Although you want new people we are coming even if you say no, we will meet you there!’.
Our second encounter was at the Makuzi Beach Lodge in the Nhkata Bay district some 750 kilometres north. We had 19 couples attending. From there we moved on to Vibitac, Kande and met with the Links team. We had a great time discussing marriage with the youth and it was interesting to hear their different views and relating them to what the Bible says. The next day we were with a group of people of varying ages and lengths of marriage including a village group chief and her husband of 56 years. The main subject area was the differences between men and women and how this affects marriage. We also covered the areas of communication, money and the sexual relationship, which we were informed was a great problem, although not normally discussed. This visit also gave us the opportunity to talk to people who had been on previous encounters and find out how it had
BIBLE BASED MARRIAGE
helped them. At the BeitCure hospital they have already applied for a budget for next year to have another encounter and we were told that we would attend! Links’ needs assessments find that marital and family relationships are high priorities. What we find most encouraging is that when couples and families ‘pull together’ they are in a better position to deal with life situations.
Graham and Ruth Swaffield
Testimonies: Pastor Wonderful (his real name) said “Last year there was a prophecy over us, that you will save some families and broken hearted people and your wife will sing prophetic words over them. A few days later a couple came with their problems that seemed beyond repair. We used the BBM teaching and encouraged them, and finally they were reconciled and they even took Communion together.” One husband (also a school teacher) said “We know already how people learn, we have also learned by watching others walk along the beach holding hands! (holding hands is not usual in Malawian culture). We have got much out of the questions in the booklet. As a teacher I know involvement affects the way people learn, I will now teach stuff using involvement.”
MALAWI PROJECT UPDATE
When we visited Mzuzu in September 2012, we received a proposal to start a new community project on the outskirts of the town, in Sonda. This project arose from the work of the community healthcare team, trained by Links and set up from Holy Cross Church. They have been engaged in reaching out to poor communities, passing on training in basic – but potentially lifesaving – healthcare and sanitation issues. The underlying cause of so many of the problems they encounter is of course basic poverty, and this project seeks to solve this. The report given by the community healthcare team has highlighted the needs of many vulnerable old people
and children, who are malnourished. The specific purposes of this project are: • to reduce the malnutrition rate among specific groups • to increase the economic status of these beneficiaries • to build capacity of the targeted households for pig production In September we viewed the land that was proposed for the site. We also heard that the vision went beyond the initial piggery, extending to other related
projects which could be accommodated by the land. We were able to approve funds to make a start, so the land was purchased and work began. The site for the project was named Pamoza, a Tumbuka word which means ‘Partnership’ – because of the vision for how the project would interact with the wider community. On the latest trip in May, it was with some excitement that we visited the site to see the nearly-completed piggery. Our visit was used as the opportunity to formally
MALAWI PROJECT UPDATE
open the project in a small ceremony attended by most of the chiefs from the surrounding area. It was fantastic to see how much progress had been made and to see several healthy looking pigs. One was clearly pregnant, and since we have returned to the UK we have heard the following from Pastor Steven Chisale, who is overseeing Pamoza: “I have good news. The pig that was expectant has dropped her piglets last night. This means that when you come in October, you will be able to see about 4 or 5 beneficiaries having a pig in their homes.” This is a great start to the project! Our thanks go to our donors who made this possible – Bunches and the Ground Level Network. We look forward to seeing how we can partner with the project as it progresses and expands.
One item in our Gift Catalogue may cause some puzzlement, namely the Clay Fridge! This is a simple but effective means of preserving fruit and
vegetables in households where there is no possibility of an electricity supply. The climate of most, if not all, of the areas in which we work means that fruits and vegetables perish very quickly, and this is in communities where a shortage of food is also a major issue. The clay fridge simply comprises two clay pots – one slightly smaller than the other, with this one having a lid. One pot is placed inside the other, with sand or sawdust packed in between the two. Then the sand is made – and kept – damp. As the water evaporates (an endothermic process!) this has a cooling effect on the inner pot – and any fruit or vegetables that have been placed inside. The beauty of this is that it is a very low cost solution to a big problem. On this last trip to Malawi we were able to see fridges in operation in villages, and heard how the food stored inside was staying fresh for much, much longer.
KINGDOM RESOURCES LINKS INTERNATIONAL PROVIDES ‘SPIRITUAL FAMINE RELIEF’ TO WORKERS AROUND THE WORLD, MANY WITHOUT ACCESS TO CHRISTIAN RESOURCES. WE CURRENTLY SEND 130 PARCELS TO 40 NATIONS THREE TIMES A YEAR. THESE WERE IN THE LAST PARCEL. Encounter Worship CD Various
£45 blesses someone with three parcels a year. The parcels remind missionaries and workers that they are loved and thought of. Here are some of the many ‘thank you’ emails we recently received: Your note says that you hope that the CD and the book are a great blessing to us – they are! UK
Book, Huperwoman Kris White
Few days ago we received your parcel… I already read the book and enjoyed it and was inspired by it. God bless you so much for these regular refreshments for the soul and spirit! Pakistan I wish to let you know we have received the recently sent Kingdom resources. As always, we are glad and extremely grateful. Sending the parcels to us has always been like supplying clean cold water to thirsty souls in a desert. Kenya
One Generation Teaching CD by Sim Dendy
Thank you so much for the package. It made the visit to the local post office worthwhile for once. I have enjoyed flicking through your magazine. This time it made it extra special when I saw a photo of a friend from my church!!! Macau, China I just wanted to take the time and say thank you so much for all you are doing for the kingdom. The material i.e. books/ cds etc you send to me is extremely useful and I always look forward to receiving it/them. South Africa
CONTACT US LINKS OFFICES UNITED KINGDOM (HEAD OFFICE) PO Box 198 Littlehampton West Sussex BN16 3UQ +44(0)1903 778515 firstname.lastname@example.org SOUTH AFRICA PO Box 37604 Valyland Fish Hoek 7978 +27 (0)786354674 email@example.com UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PO Box 1223 San Marcos TX 78667 +1 (512) 765 4657 firstname.lastname@example.org linksinternationalusa.com
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COUNCIL OF REFERENCE
Norman and Grace Barnes, Founders of Links International // Fran Beckett, Charity Consultant // Stuart Bell, Team Leader, Ground Level // Dr Steve Brady, Principal of Moorlands College // Rev Steve Chalke, Founding Director Oasis Trust // Gerald Coates, Pioneer // Dr Patrick Dixon, Global Change // Dr Rowland Evans, Nations // Mrs Faith Forster, Ichthus Christian Fellowship // Dale Gentry, Prayer Breakout Network // Floyd McClung, Formerly International Director YWAM // Micha Jazz, Peaceworks // John Noble, Spiritconnect
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We’re very excited to announce that we will be holding a black tie fundraising dinner with cabaret-style entertainment in London on Saturday 7th September 2013 - which just happens to be Links’ founder Norman Barnes’ birthday! We’re even more delighted that both magician John Archer (who you may know as the only person to beat Penn and Teller) and comedian Tim Vine (Not Going Out and Let’s Dance for Comic Relief) have agreed to host the proceedings for us. Music will be provided by Tina Oldham and her band. The event will take place at 7pm at the Hilton London Olympia, 380 Kensington High Street, London W14 8NL. After a three course dinner, there will be an update on some of our projects, an auction to raise funds for our work and lots more fun and games! Tickets are on sale now and can be bought at www.linksinternational.org.uk/galadinner. Alternatively, you can contact the Links office, but this may take longer and tickets are expected to sell quickly. They are £75 each, but why not come with some friends and book a table of 8? If you are unable to attend, but would still like to support the event, you may like to know that donations of “lots” or promises of any size or value will be very much appreciated for our auction, so please contact us if you can help. We do hope you can join us for what promises to be an exceptional event!