The Story of MNGWERE Community
Hands at Work began operating in Malawi in 2008 in the rural village of Mngwere, about 15 kilometres from the central town of Dedza. Mngwere is an isolated community and very impoverished. Local school teacher Royie Nazombe encountered the Hands at Work vision to see the local churches unite as Christ’s body to care for his community’s most vulnerable children and grasped it immediately. He left his job as a teacher to concentrate full time on mobilising and organising compassionate local volunteers.
Children currently supported: 200
Number of Care Workers: 25
Coordinator Name: FRANCIS
Distance from DEDZA Local Office: 11 KM
Basic Services Started: 2010
In order to address the most essential needs of an orphaned or vulnerable child in the Mngwere community, Hands at Work aims to provide one nutritious meal to each child per day served at the Life Centre. Tima Community Based Organisations (CBO) assisted 33 children in its first year of operation, and has now increased to 200 children. Tima’s goal is to grow and to care for many more vulnerable children.
Tima CBO, in partnership with Hands at Work, started a Community School operating out of a local church. They are now in their own building on land adjacent to the church. This school is bridging the gap for local children who cannot go to remote schools when they are very young because of the distance and later, don’t want to go because they are older than their classmates.
The Life Centre at Tima CBO is a place where children feel welcome to come and play with other children their own age. At the Life Centre, children eat a nutritious meal every day, have help with their homework from volunteer teachers, and participate in life-skills classes like gardening and knitting. Informal assessments of health care needs also take place. The very words ‘Life Centre’ speak of the purpose – to bring a taste of shalom and of life to this community and its orphaned and vulnerable children. The children receive the love and care of the local volunteer Care Workers, who in many cases act as motherly and fatherly figures to these children.
Even though the drought has greatly affected the community, which has caused a near-to-total crop failure and the resultant food insecurity for many families, the Care Workers ensure each child attending the Care Point receive a hot, nutritious meal every day. The children have experienced the life-changing love and joy the Care Workers show to them. It is easy to see that despite the many hardships that life in Mngwere brings, this love is unshakable.
Dulani* is 11 years old and attends Grade 3 at the local government school. He has faced many challenges in his young life. After this father’s death in 2014, Dulani’s mother struggled to care for him. Elina, a local Care Worker reached out to the family. Dulani, now attends the local Care Point daily where he receives a nutritious meal, access to health care and support with his education which this year included a school uniform, shoes and a new school bag.
The Hands at Work office in Dedza currently supports four Community Based Organisations, which exist to care for the most vulnerable in their communities. The office provides training, networking, and encouragement to those Community Based Organisations like Tima. It also gives administrative support, including helping with funding proposals, monitoring and evaluation, bookkeeping and reporting to donors.