Mike Beresford, zm Director, reports on the encouragements coming from a long standing project.
Following the floods and drought that affected Malawi in 2015, zm sought ways to help the most vulnerable amongst our church partners. In conjunction with our partner the Zambezi Evangelical Church (ZEC), zm runs a very effective scheme called “Kids for Kids” at ZEC’s Orphan Daycare Centres. Goat kids are given to orphan headed households. These children can then rely on the goats for a long term source of income. When the goats grow up and give birth, the first kids are then handed on to more children. After this, any further offspring can be kept by the child.
zambesi mission (zm) seeks to foster “partnerships in the gospel” between Christians and churches in the UK and their counterparts in Malawi and northern Mozambique. zm regards our African partners as equally valuable parts of the body of Christ; we recognise that our partnership is not just a one-way relationship. We are actually inter-dependent: this means that here in the UK we need the church in Malawi and northern Mozambique just as much as they need us. As part of this ethos we try to help the church in a way that avoids unhelpful dependency. As Christians, we should depend upon God and not on other men (although of course, God works through His servants).
This project was extended recently, with many goats being donated to churches in the Lower Shire valley, an area badly affected the previous year by both floods and drought. During November and December 2016, Projects Officer Rose Chirwa and Church Development Partner Myles MacBean visited a number of churches across the Lower Shire valley. Their aim was to distribute more goats, and also to visit churches which had received goats previously to see how they were getting on.
At Chapananga ZEC, an elderly lady was so happy and thankful for the goat that she received that she called it “Zambezi”! She is a widow and all her children have died. She said that she felt very alone and was overjoyed at how much this goat would bring her comfort in her remaining years.
Myles MacBean described how they distributed goats at nearby Kubalalika ZEC: “All went well, but the closer we got to the Mozambique border the clearer it was that people – if not starving – are certainly getting very hungry. And in such a situation the ‘loan’ of a goat can make all the difference to the livelihood of a family“.
From the 20 goats provided to Bangula ZEC, ten had given birth. Sadly four of these had died from disease, and a further four goats had been stolen – a goat is worth about £15 – £20, so they are a valuable commodity. Myles and Rose were present when one of the “second-generation” goats was handed on to a new beneficiary.
The day before Rose and Myles visited Muona ZEC one goat had given birth to twins. The picture (right) shows ZEC’s Regional Superintendent for the South region of Malawi, Isaac Mpanga, with Pastor Cheza from Muona ZEC with the two goat twins.
The project has also been used as an income-generating scheme in churches outside the Lower Shire area. At Namulu ZEC, seven of the 10 goats originally given have now given birth. Rose Chirwa wrote, “This represents a return of 70% and it is so encouraging!”
Myles MacBean commented about the programme after the visits: “The beauty of this project is that in Malawi almost everyone knows how to keep a goat, the goat will eat almost anything, the young females are very quickly reproductive, and the gestation period is short. So rapid multiplication quickly pays back the initial investment. And the recipients ‘repay’ the initial gift by passing on their first-born kid – through the local church – to another needy neighbour”.
We are very thankful that the rains during this year’s growing season appear in most areas, so far at least, to have been more consistent and widespread compared to the last two years. Most people’s crops are growing well.