My first week in Africa has been eye-opening and moving. The WVU team of Presha Neidermeyer (amazing teacher/mentor!), Tristan Gartin, Mac Festa and I gave a two day seminar and a separate one day seminar on business planning and development and the 4 D’s: Discover, Dream, Design and Deliver. We learned to work with an interpreter and change our teaching methods to better fit the intended audience. With many of those in attendance being illiterate and lacking an understanding of some basic business concepts, we communicated many of our lessons in the form of parables such as the goose that laid the golden egg and Biblical examples. I had no idea how much the Bible had to say about money and building community. The rest of the team, Michael, Annette, Nathan, Bianca and Dave amazed me with their abilities to work so well with the children, drive in hazardous conditions!, and inspire and motivate everyone around them. The kids are still talking about them even now that they’re gone.

My favorite thing about this week is that it has given me great hope for the future. This is a team of do-ers. After less than a week in Malawi, we have devised a plan to create a business plan that will allow the people of these communities in Blantyre to learn, work and thrive. My specific duty is to help create a model for the Savings Groups that we have encouraged them to form. This will help them raise the capital they need to start businesses since loans and other forms of payment are not available to them like what we are accustomed to in the U.S. There is no support system for them, so they must create their own opportunities, and I am so excited by the possibility that we may be able to help them help themselves. They’re excited about it. They want to change their situations. They want to be able to feed their families and send their children to school just like anyone else. When I discussed the savings group idea, they all started buzzing with enthusiasm, forming their groups and whispering business ideas to one another. I left feeling that we have the opportunity to make a real difference in these people’s lives. I’ve been spending all my money on Skyband internet cards so I can look up information on savings groups, business ideas and microfinance institutes in Malawi.

I already miss home and when I have even two minutes of quiet to myself I start thinking about all of the people and things I’ll be missing in the year to come, and I get sad for a while. But the thing is, when I’m doing all this work, I’m enjoying it more than any other work I’ve done in my life because I know very real, very positive results are possible. I can’t let this opportunity pass me by without putting in my absolute best work. They deserve it.

Prayers tonight for great ideas and the wisdom to recognize them.