Hands at Work is committed to making it personal with the children we serve, and doing whatever it takes to bring hope and love into their lives, even though it may personally cost us. In May 2019 Rashid, a member of the local Hands at Work team in Dedza, Malawi, did exactly that.
22-year-old Ruth* and her nine-year-old sister, Sara*, grew up living with their grandmother in a tiny house with their goats. They were identified as among the most vulnerable when local volunteer Care Workers from the Tima Community Based Organisation (CBO) in the community of Mngwere, Malawi, and George Snyman, co-founder of Hands at Work, visited their home when Ruth was only 15 years old. They immediately invited them to the Care Point.
In 2019 Ruth decided to take Sara to live with their aunt in another community, far away from their grandmother in Mngwere. Life with their aunt was incredibly difficult. While Sara was living with her aunt, she was not able to attend school and the Care Point was many hours away. She struggled with immense loneliness.
When Rashid found out about the situation, he was told that Sara was uncomfortable and unhappy living with her aunt and wanted to come home to her grandmother in Mngwere. Acting with concern and compassion, Rashid raised his hand and said he would bring Sara home. One Saturday morning, Rashid woke up early and left the house at 4am. Using several different taxis and motorbikes, he headed into the mountains and forests in the general direction he had been told.
Even though he did not know where Sara was, Rashid was determined to find her. All he could do was pray and ask God to guide him as he was lost and had no idea where to go. At one point, Rashid and Dan Waspe (International Volunteer, UK), who was with him, contacted the International Team which had recently visited and asked them to pray. Shortly after, the team contacted Rashid and Dan and said that they had prayed and trusted that they would find Sara within the next five to ten minutes. Exactly five minutes later, Sara appeared on a pedal bike.
When Sara saw Rashid, she came running over and jumped straight into his arms. He gave Sara comfort, love and security. Rashid then travelled with Sara further into the mountains to her aunt’s house, where he saw that Sara was already packed and ready to go. After speaking with her aunt, he went to see Ruth, who immediately questioned why he was there. Rashid responded by saying, “we came because you are one of our children. You left and we care about you. Jesus comes pursuing after us and so we will come after you. Jesus leaves the 99 and chases after the one. In Mngwere we care for 199 children but we knew that we needed to come after the one who had gone missing”. It totally shocked Ruth that Rashid had come to find them. It was a moment that reminded both her and Sara that there are people who love and care for them.
After nearly 27 hours of travelling, Rashid brought Sara back to her grandmother in Mngwere. Before bringing her home, Rashid assured her that coming home would be the safest and best place for her. When her grandmother saw Sara, she said, “I cannot believe that you brought Sara back”. The happiness of being back home was evident on Sara’s face. Sara knows deeply how loved she is because she was followed and pursued. Rashid lives in Mngwere close to where Sara lives with her grandmother. He raised his hand to go because he knew Sara deeply and it impacted him personally when she was gone.
Today, Sara is back at the Mngwere Care Point, where she is cared for by local volunteer Care Workers and is under the loving and watchful eye of Rashid and the other members of the local Hands at Work team in Dedza.