WELCOME TO 2017, BUT…

by Samuel Malasa Banda.

 

With joy, we welcome you our reader and supporter into the New Year 2017. With a joy-filled heart, we say THANK YOU for the support you rendered to us in 2016. Because of your unwavering backup, last year we managed to finish the Afterschool program term with around 250 kids, it’s all because of you.

And because of the precedent that we set last year, by the first day of the After-school program this term, we already had 180 kids registered. As we closed the first week last Friday (13th of January), we had 220 kids and considering closing registration as we strive to have 150 kids to meet our resource base and to provide quality education.

In 2017, Cornerstone Ministries Malawi turns 5, quite a milestone!

We can talk about the grace that the Lord has bestowed upon us since our foundations were laid.  As we celebrate, we look at the expansion of the ministry, The Youth Empowerment program, Cornerstone Super Eagles Football team and recently opening of the Cornerstone Christian High School.

This year we celebrate God’s mercy and the value of friendship. All the achievements outlined would only be on paper if we didn’t have you as our partner.  Your prayers and support has seen us come this far.

Though we celebrate entering 2017, our joy has been short-lived, three days ago we lost one of our camp kids Blessings Twayanga to malaria, so sad!  Blessings was a hardworking kid and also a star midfielder in our Cornerstone Super Eagles football club.

Upon hearing the sad news, one of our friends in Canada Neil Singh thought of intervening by raising funds to buy mosquito nets for kids who attend our After-school program.

His target is to raise $2000 which will be enough to buy nets for around 250 kids. Each net costs $6. So, you can join Neil by contributing $6, and with that, you will save one life from malaria. Hope after reading this you’ll stand with Neil, Cornerstone and Urban Promise and buy just one mosquito net for one kid!

Yea! This is a new year, we have a lot of hopes and aspirations, but greatest among them is that you continue praying for us. At Cornerstone, we believe in the power of partnership. We look forward to God working miraculously as we strive to empower and transform kids and youths from the lakeshore district of Salima into reliable and trustworthy citizens. Come join us!

P/S: You can donate by clicking here: https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/UrbanPromiseInternational/donate?pvwtkt=H

and designate your gift to Cornerstone Malawi

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EQUIPPED FOR THE MISSION

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Chikondi outside the Cornerstone Christian High School block

 

My name is Chikondi Elvis Chabakha.  I am a proud 26-year-old Malawian young adult.  I graduated from ABC in 2013.  Upon my graduation, I came to Cornerstone Ministries Malawi for a one-year internship as a partial requirement for my participation in Urban Promise International’s fellowship program.  By the end of the year in the fall of 2014, I was privileged to be one of the five Malawian graduates that flew to the U.S. to continue with the fellowship program within a different context for two years.  Honestly, I will always celebrate these two years as among the most significant stages of my life.

My first highlight was doing the graduate studies at Eastern University in Organizational leadership.  It was one of the most humbling and yet inspiring experiences of my life.  First, it was humbling because it helped me get a glimpse of what leaders do in the background; most of it tough.  I realized that it is so easy to judge leaders by what they do in public, and neglect all the hard work they put forward for the benefit of many.  Again the graduate was designed in a way that it exposed us as students to both academicians and practitioners on the different areas of leadership.

The experience was so phenomenon because I had the privilege to get to know people from different parts of the world.  Within two years I had 19 housemates and four roommates.  Some from Korea, Scotland, Kenya, and different parts of the USA.  Each one of these people spiced up our community life in a special way. I.e. Music, sports, food, dressing and many other cultural values.  I am so grateful to God for an exposure to such rich diversity.  It changed me.  Not only, do I respect people that are different from me because it’s a command in the Bible, but also because, I lived it and I had a chance to appreciate the beauty and the brighter side of everyone that I encountered.

I think of my two years as a time of self-awareness.  I found it easy to know myself better around people that are not very much like me.  In my process of getting to know other people’s different ways of living, reasoning, worshiping and, practicing faith, I found myself.  I am more proud of the gifts God gave me.  This experience also extremely broadened my worldview.  And, again I appreciated the opportunity to view and thank about the state and future of Malawi from outside.  It is very good.

I thank God for his provision and comfort for the whole time I was in the US.  He gave me friends, family, wisdom, encouragement, protection, guidance, and even material things that I needed in order to survive and thrive through my stay in New Jersey.

Now that am back home, I am super excited to share my blessings through my ministry at Cornerstone Ministries Malawi.  It such an unthinkable honor for me to serve as principal of the newly launched Cornerstone Christian High School.  My only confidence is in the finished and perfect work and the wisdom of Jesus Christ.  With His presence and guide, I am able.

Hurray! The Holiday is over

By Samuel Malasa Banda

New academic year of the Malawian school calendar indicated September 5th as the starting date. As Cornerstone, the After-School program (ASP) usually starts a week after public schools open.

This term, it was not easy.

Kids and their parents started flooding our premises a month before the opening date in order to have their kids registered for the new after-school program year.

For the After-school Program Director, Tionge Matangula, the response from the community is so overwhelming that they cannot handle the increasing number of kids anymore.

“We initially designed the after-school program to have a total of 150 kids so that they can comfortably learn. But now we have over 180 kids and we have even started turning others down due to the insufficiency of resources” laments Tio.img_4097Picture: Kids that turned up for the first week of the After-School Program. 

This is the second week since the opening of the ASP this year and the camp has received 60 new beginners for standard Four.

What’s the other beautiful thing?

There has been a sustained trust between Cornerstone and parents as evidenced by receiving of more than 20 kids whose elder siblings graduated or are in higher classes at the after-school program.

“Most parents are eager to continue sending their kids to the ASP because they have seen the transformation that has happened in their other kids who have undergone the program, ” says the After-School Program Director.

In 2013, on the very first day of launching the Cornerstone After-school program, only 7 kids turned up. Three years later, the program boasts of more than 150 kids and others being put on the waiting list. What else should we thank God for, if it is not for this enormous growth?

 

 

FIVE MINUTES WITH CAROL

Since 2015, Carol Suzdak has been visiting Cornerstone Ministries Malawi. One of the most outstanding and virtually visible contributions is the Carol Suzdak Resource Corner, a library stocked with approximately 200 books on various topics.  During her recent trip, Our Samuel Malasa Banda (SMB) had a five minute chat with her to find out what inspires her.IMG_7769.JPG

Carol sitting at a sample desk for the Cornerstone Christian High  School.

SMB: So Carol, why are you here in Malawi?

CS: I am here in Malawi for three r

easons; first is visiting Cornerstone Ministries, the other I volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and l am also visiting my son Chris in Zomba.

SMB: When did you first hear about Malawi?

CS: First hearing about Malawi, when I was a little girl, we had fish in our tanker called cichlids and I read that the only place they are found is in Malawi. So I knew about Lake Malawi when I was a little girl

SMB: Now that you are at Cornerstone, when did you know about this ministry?

CS:  I first learnt about Cornerstone Ministries Malawi in 2014, I was on a Habitat for Humanity global village trip in Salima and for one of our cultural exchange programs, we visited this ministry, and that is where I met Danneck Falinya.

SMB: It seems you have been to Malawi, two or three times, what are interesting aspects about Malawi and her cultures?

CS: I really love Malawi because the people are so warm and friendly. And I love Cornerstone Ministries, the teachers are so warm, and they care about the children. Furthermore, the children are so responsive to the teachers.

SMB: Being one of the people who are helping fundraise for Cornerstone, donating books and other resources. What motivates you to help this ministry?

CS: What I love about Cornerstone Ministries Malawi is that I see what am contributing which I ,like to send books, the story behind that is I read ‘The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind’ of  a boy who never had the chance to go to school but through reading he made a great innovation. So when I met Danneck I asked, “What do you need?”, and he said “books”, so I started sending books. And from there the relationship started. What I liked most was the response, when I sent books, they were received. And when I came the next time, they were being used. So I was more excited about the feedback from all the teachers and the learners.

SMB: On this trip, what works have you been involved in with Cornerstone?

CS: This is the longest I have been with Cornerstone, I was in their Summer Camp program, I was helping out with the Art class and on Thursday I was in the Mathematics class.

SMB: Any words for the Cornerstone team?

CS: I encourage the staff and kids at Cornerstone to keep up the good work and keep learning. Cornerstone is a great and fantastic program.

SMB: As a partner to Cornerstone, what message do you have for other people or organizations interested in partnering or donating to the ministry?

CS: One of the things I can really say is that whatever you give to Cornerstone, they utilize. They have utilized money, books or whatever I have donated personally. Follow up with it and see the difference it has made both among the staff and the kids. I have been to the Cornerstone Christian High school construction site is going up, it’s incredible even by US standards. Last September when I came there was just a land, not even the title was secured. But to see, here we are, July and there is a whole school block. And they are starting the school in September. So that’s in less than a year, that’s so incredible.

SMB: Finally, you have travelled to Malawi several times, what concluding words would you leave to the people?

CS: What I would like to leave is that, Malawians should think like Malawians should think like Malawians. I don’t want them to think like Americans, Britons, South Africans, no! They should think as Malawians. They should read Malawian literature and appreciate the rich heritage that Malawi has.

SMB: Thanks Carol 

CS: Hahaha, thanks.

If you would like to donate your gift towards construction of the Cornerstone Christian High School follow the link below and designate your gift to Cornerstone Ministries Malawi

https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/UrbanPromiseInternational/donate?pvwtkt=H

Inspired by Victory

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The Victory Church Center team with Cornerstone Ministries Malawi staff at the High School site.

By Samuel Malasa Banda

The Apostle Paul reframes words of Prophet Isaiah; “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news” in Romans 10:15. For Cornerstone Ministries Malawi hosting 24 missionaries from Victory Church Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma was a manifestation of the scriptures.

Spending only a day at Cornerstone did not deter them from achieving their mission; spreading the word of God through demonstration of good works.

The team first went to Rwanda where they preached Christ and helped in Christian organizations before spending three days in Malawi.

Dividing themselves into two groups, they worked on helping builders at the Cornerstone Christian High School construction site while the other group slashed bushes around the site.

With a clear demonstration of passion and zeal for work, leader of the delegation Mark Kresge attributed his team’s eagerness to having a purpose;

“Our inspiration is that our church is missions minded and we are very passionate about spreading the message of Christ. Not only the message, but also being the hands and feet of Jesus. We believe this is both important and Biblical that’s why our team is very passionate about supporting the local church.” Said Kresge, who is also the Young Adults Pastor at Victory Church Center.

Commenting on the activities being carried out by Cornerstone Ministries Malawi in Salima, Kresge admired the tremendous impact that Cornerstone is making on the kids and youths of Salima through its programs.

The team comprising 17 ladies and 7 males had time to tour the After-school program that runs every day at Cornerstone where around 180 kids are given class lessons and provided with meals and snacks at the end of learning every day.

The leader of mission’s group further said Urban Promise International and Cornerstone’s vision is amazing. He commended the ministries that they are building and providing education for the next generation while strengthening the local church and community for Christ.

Inspired by the missionary team’s zeal, Cornerstone Ministries Malawi’s After-School Program Director, Tionge Matangula said the visiting team has demonstrated to them the real definition of being sold out for Christ.

“Their attitude towards works was so awesome. I am marveled at how they worked tirelessly despite being their first time doing such kind of work.” Said Matangula, admiring how selflessly they worked.

Matangula further thanked the team for considering visiting Cornerstone as he said this also serves as an encouragement in the ministry’s daily work.

Spending their last day before departure at Cornerstone Ministries, members of the team applauded Malawians for being very warm.

“The people in Malawi are very welcoming, joyful and resourceful. And we are happy at how creative the people are by making use of every resource they have. The people are very definition of stewardship,” Acclaimed Pastor Kresge, “I urge Cornerstone and other Christian ministries in Malawi to continue the good work, and don’t get tired doing the good work as Galatians 6 says.” He concluded.

The team that was a combination of beginning and veteran missionaries did not just fulfil their mission of preaching Christ, rather they demonstrated true stewardship by committing themselves to work and gaining victory over every endeavor they partook.

 

 

Empower the girl child; Educate the Nation

By Samuel Malasa Banda

In a traditionalist society where women are mostly regarded victims, girls at Cornerstone Ministries have chosen to challenge the stereotype and stand out as heroines.

Using the Girl Empowerment program, Cornerstone is reaching out to every girl child who attends the After-school Program, and so far, the initiative has reached to a majority of girls in the whole community.

Established in February 2013 by Enettie Malangano, the program has four focal points; enhancing academic performance, spiritual development, advancing social and life skills and promoting hygiene among girls.

According to Cornerstone’s Girl Empowerment Program Coordinator Emily Shaba, the program targets girls aged between 10 and 18.

To Shaba, the weekly meetings convened every Friday with the girls, they are not just mere girls’ time out, they have been so instrumental in shaping the girls attitude to challenges in life.

“In the one year that I have been at the helm of the program, we have seen tremendous improvement in the turn out of the girls,” she commended. “Many girls have found a safe haven in the mentors that we have in the program.” Concluded Shaba.

Shaba, an Urban Promise International fellow said the program now has an average of 50 girls.

Among other things, when the girls meet they share the word of God, discuss the challenges they face on daily basis and also help those who are in need physically like sourcing clothes to distribute to the helpless.

Asked on what challenges is the program facing three years since its inception, the program coordinator singled out lack of enough resources.

“There are somethings which we would like to do like inviting external mentors to speak to the kids, or maybe having some tours in colleges to see how successful other ladies are, but due to limited resources, we cannot do that” she said.

In a community that has a high school dropout rate, especially among girls, the girl empowerment is striving to change their attitude and mentality towards education. And as it stands, the challenge also spreads to reaching out to the communities and transform their view on girls’ education.

For Cornerstone as an organization, education for the girl is more important as she not only builds the home, but all routine responsibilities are completed by her. Today’s girl child will be the mother of tomorrow.

Cornerstone; a Team That Inspires

by Samuel Malasa Banda

It is said; every successful startup is built on four pillars, team, idea, passion and presentation, at Cornerstone Ministries Malawi, we have all the four in abundance. The unique team comprising 14 people makes things happen.

But what makes working at Cornerstone Malawi a great experience?

For Joyce Pande, Cornerstone’s Administrative Assistant, Cornerstone is more than just an office, it is a haven and play center.

“At Cornerstone you meet the most amazing people with most remarkable stories that will stick with you forever. And I am not just talking about the kids. I am talking about the staff and camp leaders. You wonder and are surprised at how God led a group of amazing people to meet here.” adds Joyce.

To achieve success, the organization has members of staff with different backgrounds. Boasting a combination of graduates of different professions ranging from Biblical studies, Mass Communication, Education studies, Journalism and Administration.

Then the question might be, what is the motive behind such a diverse workforce?

“The initial idea was to have a mixture of youths who would be able to inspire and motivate other young people to work hard in their studies and achieve more. And to accomplish this, there was a need for diversity.” says Danneck Falinya, Cornerstone’s Executive Director.

The grouping started its operations in Salima in 2013, and since then it has been recruiting young people to be trained in its Youth Empowerment Program.

Three years down the line, has Cornerstone managed to inspire the youth in Salima?

According to the Youth Empowerment Program director, Leonard Chanza, the organization has managed to reach out and touch the lives of young people in Salima. For him, this is evident by the increased number of boys and girls who are always at their offices seeking advice on academics, career and life skills.

Furthermore, some of the youth empowerment program alumni are now in universities which is a clear manifestation of the program’s impact in the community.

“We have an alumni at the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, with another studying Information Technology at Blantyre International University while other two have just graduated from the Malawi Polytechnic and Kasungu Teachers Training College respectively.” said Chanza.

With such youths, the Youth Empowerment Director is proud that the organization has managed to have a positive impact in society.

All the success that hangs on the walls of Cornerstone cannot be attributed to a single person, they are fruits of working together as a team.

At Cornerstone, there is an unwritten law derived from the African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.