This past week while I was in Colorado Springs, Debbie received a phone call from Malawi. Theresa Malila, the Founder and Director of Somebody Cares (a Visionledd partner ministry) called to let us know that Harriet, our Malawian mother, had passed away.
I clearly remember the day I first met Harriet. We were coming back from a village we had visited and stopped on the side of the dirt road. Suddenly a short, stocky woman came running across the field towards us. She was excited to see Theresa Malila, and as we got out of the van she looked at me and said "you are my first-born son". For some reason God gave us a connection, and from that day forward, she was my Malawian mother. Debbie met her a few months later, and became her daughter-in-law.
The day Harriet died she was working in her garden. She began to feel ill, was taken to her small home, and died there later that day. We were really sad when we heard the news, because even though we had only known Harriet for about two years, she had a special place in our heart.
Harriet was a "go-go", a grandmother who took care of 16 children. She was 70+ years old (having lived almost twice as long as the average Malawian) when she passed away. Harriet took care of her grandchildren in a small group of one room houses near a community called Mvunguti. Like the great majority of Malawians, Harriet lived on less than US$1 a day. She worked hard in her garden to grow maize and other vegetables. She raised a few chickens for food. Harriet's home had no electricity, and the nearest well was more than 1/2 mile from her home.
Harriet loved God. She believed in His faithfulness and goodness. She worshiped Him when life was hard and when she experienced His blessing. Debbie and I last saw Harriet last October. We spent about an hour with her and it was a wonderful time. As we left, Harriet gave us a chicken to say thank you for visiting her again. We told her we would visit again the next time we were in Malawi. But now, we'll see Harriet again in heaven.
We are telling you about Harriet because her life tells the story of literally millions of "go-go's" throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. Everywhere we go we find grandmothers and widows struggling to take care of five, ten, fifteen or more children who have been orphaned by AIDS. All go-go's like Harriet need is a bit of help -- help learning a skill so they can become involved in an income-generating activity like making soap, raising chickens or pigs, or sewing school uniforms. Help with some fertilizer and seed for their gardens. Or help with some clothes or shoes for them and the children they are taking care of.
Debbie and I are committed to helping go-go's like Harriet. If you would like to join us, send us an email. We can help you make a big difference in the lives of go-go's and orphans.
Thank you so much for your prayer and support.
Karl and Debbie