This day in the field was spent with Opportunity International Bank Malawi (OIBM) and included two very memorable moments for me. More on those in a bit.
When the Y-Malawi partnership began there was no easy access to a financial institution in the Nkhoma/Chilenje area. Due to support from the Y-Malawi partnership, a mobile OIBM van from Lilongwe visits the area once a week to serve their clients.
|Customers lined up on the withdrawal side of OIBM's mobile bank.|
Some of the activities during each mobile bank visit include: account opening, deposits, and withdrawals. On average, 110 customers are served during each visit and deposits collected range from MK1.5 to MK2 million off-peak season ($3,409 to $4,547) and MK2.5 to MK3 million peak season ($5,684 to $6,822). OIBM has a deposit book of MK23 million ($52,300) for the Nkhoma/Chilenje area.
|A bank employee performing an account verification for withdrawal.|
|A client receiving his withdrawal from the teller at the mobile bank window.|
After observing the mobile banking operations, we accompanied OIBM employees to a nearby village where we listened to the testimonies of some farmers who had formed a co-op in order to take out a microfinance loan from OIBM to purchase fertilizer for their crops. This was where the two memorable moments occurred. Here is a photograph to establish a visual for the scene.
We were gathered under the shade of this tree to listen to the bank employees and the farmers share. I was standing off to the side when one of the bank employees walked up and asked, "Abusa (the word in Chichewa for 'pastor'), would it be alright if I stood next to you?" I replied, "Of course!" What he said next, and the sincere manner in which he said it, I will never forget. "I feel closer to heaven when I stand next to an abusa." As you might imagine, I was surprised by his words but quickly said, "My friend, you are very kind. But, please, let me tell you...I have never felt closer to heaven than I have being with God's people in Malawi." It was a moving exchange for us both, I think.
A short while later, when our time together had reached its end, the bank employees brought out a very special treat for the children - a couple of cases of soda. At first I was very concerned because there were more children than there were bottles. My concern soon left, however, when we witnessed the children's selfless sharing - they passed the bottles around so that no child went without. It was really something to see.
Of course, no day was complete without capturing some photographs of the children who were "on the sidelines."
Up next, the Chiefs Ministry.
Mulungu akhale nanu (God be with you),
PS - On World Communion Sunday (October 4th), we had three amazing worship services where we were joined by John and Lori Gash from Y-Malawi for a reunion of the Florida team and together we lifted up the work God is doing in Nkhoma/Chilenje. Here's the best part - 150 additional children were sponsored through World Vision that very morning! Thanks be to God! If God has been piercing your heart for the people in Malawi and you are also interested in sponsoring a child, please let me know. I have a few forms left for children in Nkhoma/Chilenje. There are still more than 4,000 children on a waiting list so every sponsorship matters. Pray about it!