Last post of 2013! Maize Mills Photos!

Canaan Gondwe had seen other non-profits come and go through his village in rural Malawi. Some came to build things (things that sometimes didn’t last) and some came to start programs.

But Canaan had a vision for something that would last because of local involvement, because of local investment, and because of local leadership. And so in 2009, he and a small group of people started the Manyamula Village Savings and Loans Cooperative. Today, this group, MAVISALO, is thriving. It’s grown to over 150 people. And each year it helps people save more and access loans at reasonable interest rates.

Each year MAVISALO continues to become more stable as an organization; keeping a vision of sustainability and independence.

Last year, a SIA Community Grant supported part of this vision by helping them purchase two maize mills. Photos below tell the story of how these mills are helping the people of Manyamula and the MAVISALO cooperative.

Kondwani waters his maize crop. Maize is used in creating the staple food, nsima, similar to polenta.

Kondwani waters his maize crop. Maize is used in creating the staple food, nsima, similar to polenta.

The mills, one for shelling and the other for grinding, both add value to the staple crop, maize corn.

The mills, one for shelling and the other for grinding, both add value to the staple crop, maize corn.

Before MAVISALO's mills, maize processing was done across the border in Zambia.

Before MAVISALO’s mills, maize processing was done across the border in Zambia.

Money generated from small milling fees help cover costs of running the savings and loans cooperative. This helps keep interest rates low.

Women with the milled maize flour. Money generated from small milling fees help cover costs of running the savings and loans cooperative. This helps keep interest rates low. So far, the maize mills fees have increased MAVISALO’s loan capital by $500!

Woman putting maize in the sheller.

Woman putting maize in the sheller. Milled flour can be sold for 61 cents per kg, instead of 15 cents per kg for whole kernels.

Through investment projects like these maize mills, SIA is supporting local development that continues to impact the community for years to come! Thank you so much for your support in 2013. See you next year!

Donate now to support more local organizations in Africa! 

Wisdom From Del: Receiving God’s Gifts

In this season of giving and receiving, I am sharing some words of wisdom from our founder, Del Anderson. His vision for finding power within ourselves and seeing God in others is a source of inspiration for me.

I am learning, “the great power of prayer is not in asking, but in learning how to receive.” Receiving requires acceptance and willing obedience. It requires us to fasten our gaze on the Christ and let (allow) God to re-make us in God’s image and perfect pattern. 

This process of cooperating with God requires us to know ourselves, to appreciate and respect ourselves, and to be true to ourselves.

Nkosi family in Malawi receiving God's gifts in their tomato field.

Nkosi family in Malawi receiving God’s gifts in their tomato field.

We learn to be aware of God’s All-Presence (Lo, I am with you always) to give God our attention, to see things as God sees them, looking through the outer, transient appearances and conditions, and fastening our gaze on the eternal spiritual reality and truth of God’s creation.

We learn to turn to and keep our attention on God and draw our feelings from Infinite Life instead of from outer circumstances.  We learn to respond to the Eternal within instead of being hypnotized by the transient without.

Thus, God takes the dimness from our eyes and we hold fast to our oneness in God. We look through the false evidence of separation and look through our false beliefs and attitude of “them and us.” We learn to perceive something of Christ’s potential in everyone.  Then the unifying power of Spirit breaks down the barriers of self-centeredness, and Spirit heals the breaches and divisions between us.

God’s presence is constant, continuous activity of Spirit.  As God’s co-creators, our cooperation is needed to be aware (see), to make conscious decisions and then act.

Then the Kingdom of God is not dimmed and far off, but the Kingdom of God is actively alive within us.

“Listen, stand still and consider God’s wondrous works.”  (Job 37:14)

“The Lord will fight for you, so hold your peace.”  (Ex. 14:14)

Click here for more from Del Anderson. 

*We’ll take a break from the blog next week. Merry Christmas to you and yours!
With peace,
Tanya

Education and a New Job for Gladys

Five classic sewing machines and one high-tech machines are available for students.

Five classic sewing machines and one high-tech machines are available for students.

Jobs, jobs, jobs. Even more than in the US, people in Kenya are desperately seeking jobs that pay the bills and help their families thrive. Also like the US, people in Kenya turn to education to increase their job opportunities.

Samro Polytechnic school in Eldoret Kenya, supported in part by a SIA grant, is focused on providing training in marketable skills, like tailoring, sewing, and computer skills, to help people transition to more steady jobs.

Gladys is learning to sew dresses, shirts, and blazers. Machines and cloth are provided at the school.

Gladys is learning to sew dresses, shirts, and blazers. Machines and cloth are provided at the school.

 

One student at Samro Poly is Gladys.

Gladys is a single mother of four children: one son and three daughters. Until recently, she was renowned for making the best (illegal) brew in the area. But too much drinking by her husband led her to separate from her husband and go to live with her parents. Last month, Gladys was one of some 80 brewers who were invited to Samuel Teimuge’s Ukweli Training Centre for a workshop in alternative business skills and development.

Ukweli and Samro Polytechnic are on the same site and there is lodging as well as a supportive community for people wanting to change their lives. Gladys started classes in tailoring. She was even able to bring her daughter Irene, who had been doing housework away from home, to join her in training at Samro Polytechnic.

Gladys' daughter Irene is also learning about sewing and alterations at Samro Polytechnic school.

Gladys’ daughter Irene is also learning about sewing and alterations at Samro Polytechnic school.

Samuel Teimuge, who is head of centre and school shares his gratitude, “Thank you SIA for helping us purchase these items. We hope many like these two ladies will find their way to Samro Poly.”

Gladys does not know what will happen after the three-week training is over. However, she is grateful to be on her new path toward being a tailor; on her path to a job that is respectable, stable, and enjoyable. Isn’t that what most of us are looking for in life?

For more from Samuel Teimuge read my post “Leading with Honesty and Integrity” here: http://godsspiritinaction.org/leading-with-honesty-and-integrity

Grants that keep giving!

Today is about giving back! After Black Friday and Cyber Monday Giving Tuesday invites us to put our thanksgiving gratitude into action by helping others. 

Spirit in Action giving happens everyday. Giving between neighbors in rural Malawi. Giving between grandparents and children in Meru, Kenya. Giving between students and teachers at schools in Eldoret, Kenya. Giving between donors and families ready to start businesses in Uganda.

In this season of giving, here are just 3 of many generous acts happening now!

Bricks are fired to last through the rainy season. A big investment that Nancy and Lastina acn now make.

Bricks are fired to last through the rainy season. A big investment that Nancy and Lastina can now make.

A big investment by successful business women

Nancy and Lastina Nkosi (Malawi) started a grocery kiosk with a SIA Small Business Fund $150 grant. The business is still thriving after 18 months and they are ready to expand! “We were able to buy 10,000 bricks to renovate my shop,” writes Nancy.

These two women are proud to know how to run a business. As part of SIA’s pay-it-forward initiative, Sharing the Gift, they are training other women about marketing and record-keeping. A wonderful example of how a small pebble can ripple out to the whole pond!

You can see the joy in Chimwemwe and her sister's eyes as they proudly show off their new school supplies!

You can see the joy in Chimwemwe and her sister’s eyes as they proudly show off their new school supplies!

Making education a reality

Elementary education is free in Malawi, but high school can make a huge dent on the family budget. When I was in Malawi, I heard over and over about the importance of education for both girls and boys.

Before, a high school education was just a dream for Chimwemwe. Now, the success of Hasting and Mercy’s Shalom Fish Selling business has made their daughter’s dream a reality! SIA grants keep giving to the next generation!

Speaking of education…

Samro Polytechnic School in Eldoret, Kenya is open and classes are in session! Over 200 students are already beginning to learn valuable skills in tailoring and computer skills.

Sameul Teimuge is impressed by the students and the community support, “At the end of school term there were many pupils who did well in computer lessons. Both teachers and parents are motivated and they didn’t complain when fees the Kshs. 1,000 ($11) for computer was included in the school fees.

A SIA Community Grant bought 6 new computers for the school.

A SIA Community Grant bought 6 new computers for the school.

samro_computers_teacher

The computer teacher, Dalmas, giving guidance to students at Samro Polytechnic.

We are honored to be part of this wide web of generous giving! Will your giving this Christmas also include giving to people all across the world?

P.S. SIA Honor Cards are a way to honor friends and family this season while also supporting families in Kenya, Malawi, and Uganda. Donate online and then print off a card to let them know of the gift.

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