Megan Mathis, Los Angeles, CA
I grew up in upper middle class suburbia in Westlake Village, CA in a nuclear, Catholic family of four. I attended the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and it was during my undergraduate years when I spent a semester studying abroad in New Zealand that my eyes were open to a big, beautiful, diverse world. In 2009, I graduated with a Master's in Globalization from University College London and it was during a holding period waiting to get my work Visa in the UK that I got connected to the organizers of Lake of Stars festival, an annual music festival held along the shores of Lake Malawi in the Mangochi District. I had written my Master's Thesis on the ways in which music can affect political will and the organizers of the festival brought me on to conduct an economic impact study of Lake of Stars.
In 2010 I travelled to Malawi to carry out my research and was overcome by the extreme poverty I experienced while there. As a privileged white American, I had never faced any of the challenges that these people faced: an AIDS and malaria epidemic, no access to education beyond primary school, subsistence farming at the mercy of changing weather patterns, lack of access to sanitary water, food or health care, and a tremendously low rate of literacy. Yet amongst all these struggles, I was tremendously moved by the love, community and kindness of the Malawian people and their passion for Christ.
After returning home to the US, God placed on my heart a desire to help and I began recycling bottles at my apartment complex in an effort to raise funds for the Mangochi community. I didn't raise much money recycling bottles, but I realized that the small amount of $100 can go along ways in Malawi.
Since then I've been growing in my relationship with the Lord, and learning about the ways in which Jesus Christ encourages us to serve others. Specifically, I've learned that God blesses some of us in order for us to bless others. And that good stewardship of finances means not just trusting in God to provide, but trusting that He provides most when we are in service to our fellow friends here on Earth.
Hudson Mwale, Mangochi, Malawi
I grew up in a family of 5, 2 boys & 3 girls in Nkhotakota, in the Central Region of Malawi . My parents were poor and as such they failed to send me to attain tertiary education. Nevertheless; God did not forsake me, He lifted me up and guided me to go to South Africa where I earned enough funds to return and start a business in the Mangochi District. While I was doing my business, I started working as Finance Officer for an NGO project (Assessment of Government Social Services) and as a FISH Technician (Fisheries Integration of Society and Habitats) a project that deals with environmental issues, mainly promoting sustainable and best practices of fishing in our lake bodies including Lake Malawi.
Because my parents were unable to support my secondary education due to poverty, there was conflict in my heart to see youths in Mangochi failing to attain secondary school education whose parents were in the same situation as mine. I didn't want them to be in a situation as I had in my life due to financial problem. Though Mangochi is not my original home, my passion for this community grew bigger and bigger and I wanted to find ways to help youths and elderly at risk with livelihood, education & spiritual support.
That's why I got into social work. I want my community to be transformed by receiving social services. I would like to see vulnerable youths attain secondary and tertiary education and reduce premature deaths due to malarial diseases by the provision of mosquito nets. My passion is to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor, to see youths from disadvantaged families attain education so as to be responsible citizens in our community.
Over the past 5 years, my experience as a social worker with organizations that are in direct contact with the communities has enabled me to identify critical areas of community needs and to design relevant and sustainable interventions. Currently I am also studying for a Bachelor of Arts in Theology which is helping me reach children's lost souls to Jesus Christ through child evangelism.