That’s What Neighbors Do!

Kandama Village, Malawi … “Do not be afraid to ask for help,” the villagers of Kandama Village boldly admonished their group village headman. They were referring to having their request for food assistance taken to Action for Progress. It was not a long journey. These people live in the village areas that surround the Action for Progress (AfP) distribution warehouse just west of Lilongwe. Everyone there knows AfP exists to help the people of Malawi. It is through AfP the Malawi Project is able to complete its programs of support for the nation, and it is through AfP that Malawi sees their own people taking responsibility for their future. Unlike so many agencies that maintain outside control over each phase of their work in Malawi, the Malawi Project and AfP have bolstered a relationship where AfP handles day-to-day operations that help to flawlessly carry out the focus of both organizations. Through this joint effort, the people of Malawi see a future where they will be able to set their own course and make their own decisions. The assistance the two organizations extend to the communities is designed to bring local responsibility to the forefront. 

            While the goal looks toward independence, from time to time circumstances make it impossible to function without assistance. Over the past year, the results of failing crops, COVID, the lock-down, higher prices, and adverse weather conditions have all combined to bring famine. When this happens both organizations shift their efforts to keeping people alive. One can be independent when there is enough food. However, with no crops to harvest the people in the neighborhood were not afraid to recognize the disaster and ask for help.

            Just like doctors ready for an emergency, quick consultations and preparations were in place. Available food was sorted from the warehouse, and it was quickly recognized over 2,000 people were hungry. There was no food to feed everyone, so AfP recommended the best approach would be to help the elderly and orphans. Twenty-eight leaders then came back with a shorter list of 450 needy people that were in the most serious condition. It was heartbreaking and painful to hear the stories of families going days without food. 

            AfP proved to be a good neighbor by being able to give back the same love they had received from the neighborhood. Each of the 450 people received 15 kgs of maize (corn). The packages might have looked small to some, the reality to most was that half a loaf was better than no loaf at all! 

            “Oh atinthandiza kwambiri” (they have really helped us) were the words that were expressed over and over during the distribution. 

            The event was summed up when Mr. Kandama, on behalf of the village leaders, thanked Action for Progress for rescuing them. “You have saved our people from perishing. We are really proud to have you in our community and in Malawi. May your work reach all of the areas where you are trying to reach,” the chief said.

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