|Christ Church United - Mississauga|
I was incredibly warmed by the generosity of Christ Church (www.christchurch-ucc.com/) before my departure. This is the same place where my parents met, married, and baptized their children. My late grandfather was a minister there and it has been an important place for my family for decades. Although I don’t personally experience my spirituality in the form of any one religion, I recognize that communities of faith can (and oftentimes) do wonderful things. Christ Church is certainly one of those communities!
The Sunday before my departure I received a warm send-off in the form of a prayer from the congregation. They also asked if there was anything I needed. I provided a list of useful items that I was collecting to donate upon my arrival. The response was incredible. My Aunt Sandra collected bags upon bags of soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, nail clippers, etc. We almost had an issue getting everything into a jumbo suitcase but we managed it!
I have brought the items to the FAWEMA office and we will be delivering them to girls in schools in rural communities (more to come on that!).
After a particularly challenging day, I arrive at the lodge sweaty and exhausted at dusk. I sit down on my bed, eat some peanut butter out of the jar with my finger, and log into my e-mail. I open the waiting message from my mother to learn that CHRIST CHURCH DONATED $1000 FOR ME TO SPEND ON SOMETHING THAT I BELIEVE IS NEEDED!!!!!
How heartwarming is that!? The generosity of people never fails to amazing me. I didn’t ask or fundraise, they just decided they wanted to do something to help and entrusted me to do it to the best of my ability!
I have decided that with half of the money I would like to buy a bicycle ambulance. In rural areas, hospitals are often very far away. Although guidelines say hospitals should be accessible within 10km, oftentimes the distances are upwards of 35km. This is a long distance for anyone, but especially if you don’t have transport and are sick. The bike ambulances provide a low-cost, sustainable (maintenance is factored-in) way for people to get to the hospital. It is basically a bicycle with a stretcher on wheels attached to the back. In the absence of these, many people are carried or pushed in a wheelbarrow to the hospital. The ambulance is a more dignified solution and is used by people with full-blown AIDS and pregnant moms among others. The bikes are made locally to encourage the industry here. I will post more on the ambulances later.
I am so touched and proud of Christ Church for choosing to make a difference in Malawi. I am also honoured that they have selected me as a mechanism for this to happen.
I am still thinking and consulting with how to spend the other half of the money but I think I will use it to put 4 vulnerable girls through a year of high school. Going to secondary school is inaccessible for many children. There are school fees, uniform, transport and supply costs that make it financially challenging. Oftentimes if a child is going to continue their studies in a family, the parents will support a boy-child. Also due to the HIV/AIDs issue, many girls don’t have parents that can support them.
With Christ Church’s generosity, I want to show 2 different ways that donations can make an impact. More to come!