Saturday, 13 October 2012

All Things are Possible - a Father's Story

Recently, Somebody Cares has been partnering with with Women Judge's Association of Malawi bringing truth to victims of rape and domestic abuse about their rights as citizens under Malawian law.  During a visit to Mtandire (a community near Lilongwe where 60+ incidents of rape and domestic abuse are reported each month), we heard Richard Milanzi's story.  This was a case where we could be 'Silent No More'.  Read his story below.

Court Case: Richard James Milanzi
Community: Mtandire
Date: 2 October, 2012

Richard Milanzi is a husband and father of four children in Mtandire.  He and his wife separated in September 2012.  At that time the 3 younger children were still at home, while the oldest daughter is married living in Salima.  The separation came about as a result of his wife being unfaithful, her being caught in the act of adultery on two occasions.  She is also fighting with her co-workers at her place of work, as she has been going out with their husbands too. 

As Mrs. Milanzi was moving out of the family home, she took with her all of the household items: all of the pots, all of the mats, all of the blankets, everything.  Richard was left with nothing to help take care of the children.  They were forced to cook in small tins and to sleep on the cold floor. 
The youngest boy, Yohane (15), refused to continue to eat.  He was so upset at what was happening between his parents.  The counselors in Mtandire visited the home to speak with him in order to bring him some comfort and help.  The daughter in Salima took her youngest sister, Shailene (12), to live with her in order to help the family. 

Richard earns a living from the rental of 5 small, one-room houses that he has built near his own home- bringing in a meager monthly income of MK2500.  In the divorce proceedings, Mrs. Milanzi wanted the 5 houses sold in order for her to have her portion of the profits from those sales.  Richard refused to do so as this is the only source of income for the children.  But Mrs. Milanzi pressed the issue and Richard was given a court order to pay her MK60,000 for her share of the land and the houses.  This was money Richard simply did not have.  Nor did he feel this was appropriate since the reason for the divorce was her infidelity. 

In recent months, SC has partnered with judges and lawyers (WOJAM-Women Judges Association of Malawi) to work with them in community, informing people of the law and their rights. On one such visit the counselors in Mtandire asked lawyer/advocate Martha Chizuma to represent Richard at the court hearing.  She was more than happy to do so as this seemed to be a case of misrepresentation of the facts in court.  Martha reminded Richard that Jesus went through trials,  Jesus had faith in the Father and He will never fail us.  It’s that same trust in the Lord that Richard will need, she encouraged.  God will intervene. 

On 2nd October, 2012, Richard, Martha and Mrs. Thomas (zone leader and a champion counselor from Mtandire) went to the Magistrate building.  Magistrate Mwangonde called for Richard’s file.  He was to pay MK60,000 – MK15,000 a month for the next 4 months – to Mrs. Milanzi.  If he’s unable to pay, he would lose the land completely.  Martha spoke up and explained to the judge that this amount was too costly.  She explained that Richard is still taking care of the children and that the rental income was his sole source of funds.  After hearing the case, Magistrate Mwangonde reduced the amount to MK2,000 every month to be paid to Richard’s ex-wife.

Richard is very thankful to Martha and Somebody Cares who have helped him.  It was a pleasure for him to see that the counselors would not let him stand alone.  He thought that since the counselors that were helping him were women, that they would not be able to handle his ex-wife.  But now he is more than satisfied that that is not the case.  He is relieved at the outcome and can now sleep peacefully. 

Richard is thankful that his plot of land was not taken away.  He is also grateful for the reduced cost of only MK2000 a month so that he can still take care of his two boys living at home.  He appreciates the work of the counselors and chiefs as they have given of their time, energy and sympathy for his situation.  He thanks God for the good works that have been shown to him and the support of the community around him.

On 8 October, Richard was called back to the Magistrate’s office.  Magistrate Mwangonde told Richard that he had read the entire file for his case and had chosen to reverse the court’s decision.  Richard was told he was to pay nothing to Mrs. Milanzi.  After reading all of the facts in the case, the Magistrate was convinced that all of the issues in this case were at the hand of Mrs. Milanzi; and therefore Richard was not financially responsible to his ex-wife in any way.  After years of fighting though infidelity and divorce, he is finally free from this woman. 

Mrs. Thomas and Richard were overjoyed.  Richard now has faith that all things are possible through Christ who strengthens us.  He is thankful for the good works of the Lord, and the hard work of all of those who stood by him through this ordeal.  

Thursday, 4 October 2012

My Appreciation

We received a letter today from one of our youth, Alex Mausen from Mgona. Alex has been a part of the Somebody Cares family since 2007 when he nearly dropped out of school because he needed help paying his school fees. Alex came to know Christ through his time in the Somebody Cares family. Prior to that, he was a Muslim. Yet being a part of this family, and seeing Christ's love lived out through the staff and volunteers, Alex gave his life to the Lord. We could not be more proud of the man of God he has become. Please take a minute to read his letter:

Subject: My Appreciation

 I would like to thank God a lot for using the ministry of Somebody Cares to be a step-up transforming factor of my life in all the essential angles of my life (social and spiritual).

I became a son of Somebody Cares in the year 2007 when I was taken to start my secondary education after a long time of just staying at home doe to lack of school fees.  This was because there was no one to pay my school fees, but Somebody Cares came to the rescue and I was taken away from the uneducated world.  I worked hard all the way in my education so that I could make good use  of the money that Somebody Cares paid me for fees until I wrote my Malawi School Certificate examinations in the year 2010.

After the MSCE results came out, my wish to be in one of the universities of Malawi grew bigger and I worked hard towards writing the university entrance examinations.  Unfortunately, I wasn't on the list of selected candidates to go to university.  Somebody Cares further helped me to sit again for the entrance examination and as I was waiting for the results, I was told to find a course I could be studying and it was like my prayer answered.  I chose to study computer engineering at Beston College of Accounting and now I have written the certificate in computer engineering examinations.  Thank you Somebody Cares!

Now the university entrance examination results are out but unfortunately, I'm not on the list of the selected candidates again.  The University of Malawi just took 908 candidates out of thousands.  This means I still have a long term of being out of the university, but all the same I don't lose hope for I know God's time is the best, no matter how long.  But what He made for me shall come in His own time.

My life hasn't been the same since Somebody Cares embraced me and it is my prayer that God should cast light of the Holy Spirit on the ministry for its long existence.  May the God bless and give long life to the F.E.D. (Founder and Executive Director, Theresa Malilia) for using the knowledge that God gave her to establish this ministry.  Thanks to the entire family of Somebody Cares for the support and encouragement.

May the good Lord bless you all!

Alex Mausen