The Malawi Project: You can help with Medicine Bottlesby Malawi Project on March 9, 2015
In 1993 Dick and Suzi Stephens, an Indianapolis couple made a trip to Malawi, Central Africa on behalf of their church mission committee. The North Central Church of Christ in Indianapolis had been supporting a native preacher for approximately 25 years, and this was the first opportunity for members of the mission committee to visit the preacher and see his work.
Dick owned a print marketing firm in Indianapolis, and Suzi was a registered nurse with the St Vincent Healthcare system. In spite of having full time jobs this Indiana couple were so impressed they made a promise, before they left for home, they were going to commit the rest of their lives to helping the kind, gentle, hospitable people they met in central Africa.
Each year they returned to Africa, now at their own expense, to assist this peaceful people whose nation is slightly larger than the state of Indiana, and considered one of the most pro-western nations in Africa. As their time in the country expanded they started taking more and more workers with them.
In 1999 they formed a Board of Directors and created the Malawi Project Inc, a 501-c-3 not-for-profit organization. Its focus would be to help bring awareness to the needs of one of the poorest nations on earth where people live in tiny, ancient mud-hut villages and where the average person walks ten-miles a day. By the end of 2007 the total number of visitors traveling with the Malawi Project had passed 600.
In that time the awareness and fund raising had helped complete the construction of a 110-bed, 5-building medical complex near the capital, a 25- building children’s village today housing 160 needy children, a 50-building agricultural training complex helping train village farmers in the newest farm technology, as well as over $200 million dollars in medical supplies and equipment to 700 Malawi hospitals and healthcare facilities. Adding to this medical assistance has been the delivery of over 3,500 wheelchairs distributed nationwide.
One of the cornerstone principles of the Project’s focus is to help the people get on their feet. This is done through co-operative programs that bring resources to the table that can be supplied by the Malawians themselves, labor, construction, expertise and by not doing for them what they can do for themselves. The Project owns no vehicles, buildings, offices or paid American employees in either the U.S. or Malawi. All are volunteers. It functions under the principle of “Don’t give a man a fish when you can teach him to fish.” One example is the delivery of over 10,000 drip irrigation systems that are helping Malawi farmers raise their own crops instead of waiting for food shipments to arrive from America. Another example is the co-operative effort of the Malawi Project and Agricultural Aid International to develop two different farm tractors especially adapted to third world, agricultural needs. Called the V-Tractors, a number of these units are influencing the agricultural output in the areas where they have been delivered. See more at: www.vtractor.com
Another illustration of helping them help themselves has been the delivery of 5- 40-foot trailers filled with new shoes. In this program the Malawi government supplies tree seedlings to the villagers, the villages plant thousands of trees, and the Malawi Project awards each worker with a new pair of shoes. The procurement of medical supplies and equipment continues on a year round basis, as does funding needs for additional shoes, tractors, and school supplies. A capital campaign is also underway to construct a second hospital complex south of the capital in a mountainous area in one of the poorest parts of the nation. A second campaign solicits used pill bottles that have been cleaned of their labels and glue, and packaged for shipment in an upcoming 40-foot trailer. These can be sent to the Indianapolis offices where they will be packaged for shipment.
Today both Dick and Suzi are retired from their earlier jobs, but are now focusing full attention on assisting Malawi. They are available for speaking appointments and discussion groups, and can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
YOU CAN HELP...
Who has not thrown away a number of old empty medicine bottles? There is a place they are needed. Malawi, Central Africa. Involve your church or Bible Class, Boy or Girl Scouts, school classes or civic group in gathering, removing the labels and sending them to the Malawi Project for hospitals and healthcare centers all over Malawi.
Many small rural hospitals currently have to wrap medicine in bits of old newspaper, as they lack the medicine bottles for the medicine they dispense. Talk to your group, explain the objective, then turn them loose to gather empty bottles. Challenge them to see who can bring the most bottles. Make it a contest, give an award. Do a good thing and help our landfills while you're at it.
Additional information can be found at the following sites:
Malawi Information: www.malawiproject.org