[Reprinted from http://www.pccaroundtheworld.com/2017/08/08/protecting-the-vulnerable-in-malawi/, by Rachel Parker]
Avisha’s first time to Africa was in 2005, before she was married to Ken Mpemba. Growing up in Hong Kong and then moving to the United States when she was seventeen, Avisha met Ken at PCC, when she was working at the Swim and Gym program and he was a summer intern. In order to decide if it was in God’s plan that they should commit their lives to each other, Avisha traveled to Malawi to visit the country for the first time in 2005. Her first impression of Malawi was that it was “beautiful and rural! The people were warm and inviting. I could immediately see myself building a life there.”
Since that fateful trip in 2005, Ken and Avisha have built their lives around serving and helping the most vulnerable children in Malawi. For the past ten years, they have worked tirelessly co-founding a project called the Malawi Children’s Mission (MCM). According to Avisha, “We serve 150 orphans in three surrounding villages. We have built a center, a medical clinic and a primary school to help educate and provide proper nutrition for these children. We serve children through young adults from the ages of 4 to 22. My specific role consists of administrative responsibilities such as accounts, staffing, professional development, fundraising and updating the board of directors on our growth. I also coordinate all teams and volunteers that come out and serve – which I love!”
Malawi is one of the poorest countries in Africa, where 74% of their population live below the poverty line of US $1.25 a day. Approximately 130,000 children are living with HIV in Malawi, and 70% of child deaths in the country are from preventable causes. Malawi Children’s Mission works to help orphans who face poverty, malnutrition, medical issues, and lack of healthcare. They provide nutrition education and healthy meals, academic education, and medical and counseling services for the children.
When asked what it was like to raise her own three children in Malawi, Avisha said that it has been an amazing experience. They have a wonderful English international school that their children attend, they have a great community and church, and they are able to see Ken’s family frequently, who live in Malawi. That isn’t to say that they don’t have challenges in their life in Malawi. Avisha says that they struggle with economic challenges. “We (also) don’t always have water and electricity which makes it difficult to work at times.” But the hope and joy that they bring to the children at MCM seems to be more than enough incentive for Avisha and Ken to stay in Malawi with their family.
Here are just a few of the examples of how Ken and Avisha have impacted the lives of orphans in Malawi, which can be found on their MCM Facebook Page.
“A year ago the Chagaka children were living in a dilapidated single room house on their own, a “child-headed household”. Today Doreen (15), Alana (12) and Victor (8) stand proudly in front of their newly constructed solid brick home with an enclosed outdoor kitchen (middle) and bathroom (bottom), the help of a “house mother” and their expenses covered for 2 years; food, clothing, household items and school fees. The oldest sister Zione (18) is now a mother herself living with the father’s family in a nearby village.”
“Today at MCM there were smiling faces and covered feet! Thanks goes to 3 high school students from Massachusetts who raised money to purchase 200 pairs of shoes. These were not just any shoes but “The Shoes That Grow” specifically designed to expand 5 sizes and last for years so kids stay healthy through sustainable and solid footwear. The 4 large duffel bags of product were transported and delivered by the team of visiting Binghamton University students.”
So how can those at PCC support Malawi Children’s Mission? One of the many ways is by praying for them. When asked about prayer requests, Avisha said that they need prayer for “growth, fundraising and continued thriving for the children.” Please also pray for their family; for health and God’s grace and joy to go with them as they minister to the people of Malawi.