Jackie Griffiths: Christmas Greetings from Malawi November 2021
Greetings from a very hot, dry and dusty Malawi! We have now entered the hottest time of the year, with daily temperatures in the mid-30’s, though today my temperature gauge hit 40 degrees! We look forward to the rainy season which should start soon and will be a very welcome relief!
Thankfully Malawi was recently taken off the ‘red list’ which means that we no longer have to quarantine in an airport hotel at our own expense. So plans are being made for me to hopefully come on furlough next March/April time. Who’d have thought that when I last left the UK in May 2019 that it would be three years before I’d get home again?! Thankfully, the covid situation here has not been as bad as many other parts of the world. We have had no lockdowns and at different periods certain restrictions put in place which prevented large gatherings, but on the whole, life has carried on as normal. Admittedly, our testing system has not been so robust as other places, but as of 18 November, there are a total number of 577 active cases and one active case in the hospitals across the country. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 2,303 deaths have been recorded.
I take this opportunity to bring you up to date on new developments which will bring about another change. This month saw me finishing working with the Elim Church of Malawi and transitioning to join the newly formed team to volunteer with another Christian charity called Chifona Trust. Their main purpose is to open a secondary school for the deaf. Sadly there is only one other secondary school for the deaf and that is in the northern part of the country. This means that once deaf students reach secondary school level, their only option is to attend a regular school which does not cater for their needs. So, to have a school in the southern region will make a huge difference to those who are often overlooked and neglected. It will be a residential school and it is planned to start in the new academic year in January 2022 with Year 1. Currently building is taking place and the first of the classroom blocks is completed. It is situated in the Thyolo district, about one hour's drive east from Blantyre, on the edge of the tea plantations, in a rural village, overlooking Mount Mulanje, one of the largest inselbergs in the world as well as being the tallest peak in south-central Africa.
Footings prepared for my house
Completed classroom block
Guard house overlooking Mt. Mulanje
As well as the deaf school, we will be aiming to reach into the local community. We have already started an after school club with some of the children in standard 1 (first grade) who are struggling in their school work by giving them extra tuition and providing a cooked meal each day. The education system here is such that in government schools, the classes are so large that those struggling get overlooked and are not even noticed if they escape the classroom to play outside! We will also be starting a preschool which will help them get a head start once they start school. It is also our aim to seek to serve the community and the surrounding villages and to build relationships with the local people and to be the hands and feet of Jesus to them. My role is to be the School Chaplain and Pastor. For the time being I will be remaining in my rented house in Blantyre and commuting but this week the builders have started to build my house on the site. It seemed to make more sense to put the money I would pay for rent over three years into building a house which I will have something at the end of, rather than keep paying rent and having nothing at the end of it. So, it's all change!
Elim Missions, as well as my sending church, are fully supportive of this move and I am grateful to them for their support. I remain an Elim missionary so far as Elim UK is concerned and I’m pleased to say that good relations remain with Elim Malawi, with the door remaining open for me to minister in the churches here.
I have enjoyed my time working with Elim Malawi and have counted it a great privilege to be part of the team for the past four years. It’s been a joy to travel the length and breadth of the country for weekend conferences and also overseeing the seven children’s homes, as well as involvement in the local churches with discipleship groups and children’s clubs. Leaving was made easier knowing that I will still have contact and involvement with Elim Malawi.
People travel on lorries to attend a conference
Listening to one of the many choirs
The G.S. presenting one of many gifts at my farewell service
I want to thank you for your continued support and interest over many years and appreciate your prayers as I step into this new season ahead.