Care Center for Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Soche, Malawi
Moni mpingbo onse. Hello, Shadyside, from our Christian brothers and sisters in the Church of the Central African Presbytery (CCAP) and especially our sister church in Soche, Malawi.
Shadyside’s tradition of ministry and partnership in Malawi extends more than thirty years and includes the church sanctuary at Soche CCAP; the H. Parker Sharp medical clinic; the Emily House nursing student dormitory; and three centers for orphans and vulnerable children at Presbyterian churches in Chaweza, Bilila, and Mwanza. Our most recent visit to Malawi in 2014 included visits at each of these locations and a truly wonderful opportunity to share worship and Communion with our brothers and sisters at Soche. We have been there, and our friends from Malawi have been here. Most recently, Henderson, Evance, Lindirabe, and Ruth joined us to celebrate our sesquicentennial anniversary in 2016, when our congregation joined with their congregation’s dream of an orphan care center to serve the children in Soche’s surrounding communities.
The orphan care situation in Malawi is dire. In Malawi, a child is considered an orphan when the family’s primary provider is lost. Nearly one in every ten Malawians is an orphan, amounting to 1.5 million children — one million of whom lost one or both parents to AIDS. The strain on the family and the risk to the child are immense.
Malawians are a beautiful people — truly living their motto as “the warm heart of Africa” — and yet Malawi is among the world’s poorest countries. The Church in Malawi is helping to meet the orphan care crisis through the development of local-church owned and operated centers for orphans and vulnerable children. These centers provide children with a safe place to go during the day so their caregivers can work. Programming at the centers includes education, nutrition, and even a safe place to take a nap.
By God’s grace, and with our help and prayers, Soche is rapidly realizing their vision of an orphan care center. Together, we have witnessed what was an empty field last September has become a building with a roof already — and will be completed early this spring, more than six months ahead of schedule! Soche’s center will soon serve more than 120 children every day.
Scripture tells us that whatever we do to the least of God’s family, we do to Christ Himself. We are especially blessed to be a part of this ministry. It offers these children and their caregivers a future with hope.
Zikomo kwambiri. Thank you very much,
Elder Donald P. Coffelt