Wednesday, 31 August 2011

A Rare Passion

Last week, I visited Chikudzulire along with Somebody Cares staff members and a team from City of Grace, Arizona. We joined a group of youth from ages 9 to 20-something who were gathered to learn from God and spend time with one another. It was here that I saw something so inspiring and in a way, surprising- so unlike what I am used to seeing among youth. As we joined the youth, they began their time excitedly dancing and singing, led by SC staff Edward Phiri and other youth leaders. As things began to calm down, the youth visibly entered a state of deep worship, not seeming fake in any way, but as though they were ready to enter into God's presence. Most ended up on their knees, with arms raised high and expressions passionate.
Although I could not understand the prayers and songs of worship I was hearing, it was evident that God was touching the hearts of these young people. As they were told to look at specific scriptures in the teaching time, one girl in particular searched for the passages with such interest and enthusiasm, as though this moment was more important than anything! Perhaps these youth truly realize what God has done and do not take it for granted. What differs them from many other youth around the world is not something I am sure of, but I do know that what these youth have is something rare and very special!
By Alisa Gagne

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Breaking the Silence

A Story about Breaking the Silence of Sexual Violence in Malawi 
By Unknown
Edited by Alisa Gagne

Sexual violence is a reality in the lives of many women and children in Malawi. Rapes and domestic violence continue to go unreported as the victims fear the repercussions from their abusers, as well as the fear of lack of support from family, friends and government.
Meet Maria Khosa (not real name)- a seven year old from Mgona. As a little child, she came to the centre for Likuni Phala (porridge). Now, she is in school in standard 1. Maria's mother comes to the centre as a volunteer. 

Only last year, when she was just five years old, she was raped by her neighbour. 

Her mother had left to buy maize and her father had left the house to find work. Maria was left with older brothers, who went outside to play... leaving Maria alone.

It was not long before her neighbour, a man of about 40 years old, called her into his house. Once inside, he tore off her clothes and viciously raped her. Maria's mother came back from the garden to find Maria weeping uncontrollably. After some coaxing, Maria confessed her story. Her mother immediately approached the chief and they took him to the police. The man is currently in custody, facing penalty. Feeling not only wounded, but violated and completely torn inside, Maria was taken to the hospital and stayed there for the next three months. 

One of the points of advocacy is the penalties that these perpetrators face. In many cases, sentences are light and do not begin to reflect the depth of damage done to a child. In this case, what price is just enough to pay for the loss of innocence? What about the damage to the soul that cannot be accessed until it is seen in dysfunctional behaviour as Maria grows? Who pays for that? 

This is where Somebody Cares rape crisis counsellors come in. Somebody Cares has established survivor support systems to enable those traumatized by abuse to access help. In Maria's case, she has been able to spend time talking to an assigned community counsellor. With this support system, rape survivors have a platform to speak and get out what they have held within for so long. It is the beginning of an attack against this vicious onslaught on the lives of women and children.

Update: Maria is progressing very well and has begun attending school again. Her mother has a newborn baby and has made a vow to never leave her children alone- a small but substantial step in providing protection for Maria and her siblings. 

Monday, 1 August 2011

ee-ya, ee-ya

Malawians sing and dance ALL the time (well a LOT Of the time at least)! They sing and dance to welcome a new comer, to rejoice about a new gift, to teach children lessons, to show their emotion. Song and dance is very important to a Malawian- it reveals who they are as a people.

In this short video, the children are singing/dancing to a popular song that you probably have heard if you've ever visited Somebody Cares communities. They actually aren't singing any real word words- they're just saying "ee-ya, ee-ya, ya-ya-ya-ya-ya, eee-ya"! Sing along ;)