Malawi is a largely agricultural country, making efforts to overcome decades of underdevelopment. Most Malawians rely on subsistence farming, but food supply is inconsistent and the country is prone to natural disasters of both extremes - from drought to heavy rainfalls. The land is also under pressure from drastic population growth in a country with a small land mass. Small wealthy cities exist among large poor rural areas, with high class resorts appearing completely out of place on the edge of dire poverty.
The people of Malawi face extreme trials in overcoming the dire social and physical poverty plaguing the country. Children are especially vulnerable in Malawi, and suffer from a lack of basic services. A dismal 2% of children are registered when they are born, reflecting the lack of government support for its people. Girls are especially vulnerable. Approximately 90% of girls will start the first grade of primary school, but only 40% will start the first grade of secondary school, and only 10% will remain. This is partly due to 50% of girls being married by age 18, and 35% giving birth by the same age.
Health care is a serious challenge in Malawi. The country has the fifth highest rate in the world of people living with HIV and the same rate of global deaths from AIDS. All eight of the countries Hands at Work serves in are within the 22 priority countries UNAIDS has identified in their Global Plan to focus on eliminating new HIV infections among children and keeping their mothers alive. 48% of children in Malawi suffer from stunted growth due to malnutrition.
Amidst these challenges, Hands at Work has found hope in caring for the most vulnerable through the local churches of Malawi. Our vision for the local church to care for those in need is especially strong in Malawi where local volunteers are giving of themselves to care for their communities. Hands at Work supports the many men and women who have stepped up in the poorest communities to sacrificially care for the orphaned and vulnerable.
We envision the local church in Africa effectively caring for the dying, orphans and widows, and unified in this mission with the church outside Africa.
Orphaned children (age 0-17): 1,200,000
Children orphaned by hiv/aids: 790,000
UNDER 5 MORTALITY RATE PER 1000 LIVE BIRTHS:
FEMALE - 63 MALE -72
secondary school ATTENDANCE:
female - 10% Male 10%
People living with HIV: 1,000,000
Life expectancy at birth: female - 55 Male- 55
lifetime risk of maternal death: 1 in 34
population below the international
poverty line: 62%
Country rating (out of 187) on the Human Development Index: 174
— Sources: UNAIDS, UNDESA 2014, UNICEF 2014