No one knows how old Sekani is, but many guess he is around 30. It seems for decades he has spent his days sitting alone on the road outside his home in the community of Maonde, Malawi. His mother is a poor farmer who became an alcoholic – a desperate attempt to cope with the stress of her poverty. This resulted in Sekani being born severely disabled. He can hardly speak, and he cannot walk. This tragedy is made even worse through the rejection he has felt: most days receiving no food, never having gone to school, and never having known a father or mother who lovingly supported him.
In 2011 Royie Nazombe, head of the Hands at Work Service Centre in Malawi, began mobilising the local church in Maonde and training volunteers from those local churches to be Care Workers, looking out for the most vulnerable people in their community. These churches and volunteers founded the Chisomo Community Based Organisation (CBO) in Maonde. Most people in Maonde have always passed by Sekani without a second glance. But Mlangani, one of the local volunteer Care Workers, took notice of him. Mlangani says, “He needed a new standard of life. I couldn’t just watch people walk by him anymore”. Mlangani stepped in to love and care for Sekani not only as a Care Worker, but as a friend, bringing food and clothes, and bathing Sekani daily. The most radical change has been the involvement of the community in Sekani’s life. Mlangani’s relationship with Sekani has inspired the people of Maonde and has encouraged many to bring light into Sekani’s situation. Sekani had always lived in a tiny shack (see photo at left) with his mother, in which they would have to huddle at night just to sleep. A group of young Care Workers finally realised that this was an unacceptable situation. These young people, themselves very poor, pooled whatever they had and helped to construct a decent two-roomed house for Sekani and his mother (see photo at right).
No longer is Sekani forgotten and passed by with indifference. Mlangani and many other Care Workers are bringing a change that gives hope for the future of Malawi. This is the church in action! The Dedza Service Centre has a team of volunteers working to support Chisomo and other CBO’s with the vision of bringing transformation to the vulnerable across the entire country. And as this team looks to care for a nation, each day Mlangani will visit Sekani, ensuring one by one the vulnerable are loved and cared for.
* name has been changed