It's been over two years since Links came to the end of its main Community Healthcare (CHC) training with our partner organisation Hope Missions. This month, alongside Hope Missions' core team, I followed up on one of the CHC teams in the village of Chapsinja just outside Lilongwe. Even with Malawi's capital city only twenty minutes away, the setting still feels and looks like any other rural farming community found throughout Malawi. However, as the Chapsinja CHC team began telling us about what they have been doing in the last few years and the impact it has made, it became very clear that this is no typical Malawian community.

Through the ministry outreach of Hope Missions, Chief Chapsinja was one individual who decided to follow Jesus and, since then, a real tangible transformation began in this traditional authority area that covers 38 villages. Before finding a relationship with Jesus the community’s productivity was low, health was poor and hope was in short supply. About 5 years ago Links came alongside Hope Missions, after their ministry was already well established, in order to help them to build practically on this open door. Amongst other training needs, community healthcare training was provided over a few visits and the CHC volunteers went from strength to strength, to the point now where they are regularly teaching in all 38 villages and a few more outside their area. The team's main successes are seeing positive changes in health areas such as nutrition, sanitation and hygiene, malaria and antenatal care.

During the feedback session one lady got up and proclaimed that the last death of a pregnant mother in their area was in 2013, because they are encouraging the pregnant mothers not to give birth in the villages and that their husbands should take them to the health clinics to give birth. Another volunteer piped up and explained, "Before, a pregnant lady asked their husband to give her something nutritious to eat, like a mango, but he didn't. Now when they ask (for a mango) he gets it for her". A male volunteer agreed stating "My wife (and our unborn child) would even get a fish if she asked!". A volunteer simply summarised saying the training had helped them become more loving and caring towards one another.

As we wandered around the villages we saw healthy-looking children playing in clean open spaces, families who had limited the number of children they would have so as to be able to feed them all well, and even health messages written on latrines in charcoal to remind households about the importance of hand washing. Although this CHC team have done incredibly well, they still believe their role is not over yet.

In the past year, the CHC team saw that some households still had malnourished children even after their teachings. Therefore, they decided to set up a few small women's groups where the CHC team would visit households and do more one-to-one teaching on the importance of nutrition. Chief Chapsinja has also been engaging his authority in the community to help encourage key health messages. For example, if a household does not have a designated rubbish pit or a husband does not accompany his wife who is in labour to the hospital, there is a charge of one goat.

I didn't get the chance to ask what happens if a man doesn't give his lady and children a mango, but I can guess by the team's passionate comments about nutrition it would certainly be a goat-worthy offence to them!

"Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well." - 3 John 3:2

Join us in praying for all our partner organisations and their teams of volunteers as they run into their communities with both the gospel and messages for good health.

Sam Walker,
African Region Coordinator