Music of the hungry, blind and infirm

This is an update and continuing story of my involvement with the hungry sick and blind in one of the poorest countries on the globe.  I hope and pray that you take a few minutes to read some of the posts, watch a video clip, and scan the photographs.  The photos tell most of the story.  This GoFundMe launched some 2 years ago and in June of 2019, I was able to deliver over $20K to these projects. Now I am trying something new.

Generally, I physically take the money with me when I travel to visit but the pandemic ended that opportunity. Still, I wanted to try something from remote, to create an opportunity for a replicable source of awareness of the need and a chance for more donations.  The voices of the children, indeed all Malawi's, are fantastic and with little else, choirs and singing are huge in Malawi.  I wanted to share this.  So please see the update below for more information and know your generous support goes along with my own funds to try and create something wonderful.  I will attempt to get a copy of what we produce to each of the new donors.

The pandemic has precluded travel for 2020 and likely through next year and so I have come up with a new venture and wanted to share a bit more about a new project I am working on in Malawi. Music is one of the truly bright spots in the lives of my Malawi friends. I wanted to see if I could work with a key talented pastor friend on the ground to create an original reorder collection and produce a CD featuring some of those voices, particularly the youth as background choral accompaniment. I commissioned one of my reverend friends in Mponela Malawi to create this work. The equipment we purchase for this project will also allow his church and choir to do many more recordings and deliver some rocking great gospel at the services in his small rural church. They could normally never afford to purchase this equipment so it should have a long useful life.

I had hoped to feature some of the children from Chilanga but we ran into some issues there. We continue to support the school with additional funds to purchase needed products like soaps, masks, cloth for school uniforms, bricks, and metal sheeting to build new toilets for the students. The CD recording project is an attempt to create a musical product that may be "sold" to increase awareness of the need in Malawi and perhaps garner some additional donations for the school and church youth choir. It is a small project with a $5k budget that I have already funded, but likely we will need some more as we progress. If it turns out well I will offer the CDs to all past and future donors. Future donations will go to both Chilanga and to the Kafita Church youth choir for the purchase of replacement or better musical instruments. If you have read this far, see the updated photos of a broken cymbal and trip to the music store to buy a new cymbal and other gear.

As always, count your blessings and say a little prayer to those far away and in need. Zikomo kwambari 

36521396_1607111590286986_r.jpegWhen I saw the drummer using this broken cymbal I just knew we had to go to the city and pick out a new one.

36521396_1607111451806468_r.jpegGospel recording artist Pastor Patrick Kadiwa is the key to doing this project.  I love his heart and soulful recordings and I when I visit his tiny church is in the village near the blind school, the congregation rocks is.  He feels and sees my mission and is helping to make it real.
36521396_1548633950516725_r.jpegI have worked in the border slums of Mexico no on 10 trips, number 11 coming up at Easter.  It was on these trips that I got the bug to go to Africa where Piedmont Community Church has adopted a sister church, Kafita CCOP in Lilongwe, Malawi.  Malawi is a landlocked country in sub-equatorial Africa.  One of the poorest nations on earth a per person GDP of less than $1000.

I am sharing with you an “investment” opportunity. The entire trip including our camera and sound guy is covered 100% out of our funds.  Further, each of us have a target of taking some $10,000 over to donate.  Each of us has our own priorities but for me it the Albinos and blind orphans at Chilanga and Nkhoma Mission Hospital that are most urgent although I say they are all urgent.

At the blind school and orphanage, I have already arranged for as many donations of new clothes, hats, lip balms, and soccer balls as I can carry.  It is now cash that I need.  With that cash, I can buy institutional size sunscreen from the hospital resources and donate to the Albinos who suffer badly from the sun.   I can buy rice and beans when they all the usual get is cornmeal.  On our 2016 trip, we took 8 bags of rice of beans on arrival at the school and there was a palpable low rumble of surprise and elation from the seated children who rarely get these grains as they are too expensive.  We bought more!!!

50Kg bag of maize grain $10
50KG bag rice $19
50KG bag beans $19
50Kg beans can be over $30
Your funds will go 100% directly to the causes:
The Chilanga School for the blind
Nkhoma Mission Hospital
Kafita Church Feeding Program
Chiombomwala Home for Widows and Orphans
Calvary Church Mpoenela feeding program for widows and orphans.

When we donate the cash, we do so in a very public matter where it all counted and shown in the open to be sure everyone is aware of it.  Not a perfect system but you have to be there and experience this to understand.

Return on Investment
“Give me a pint and I’ll save a life,” the doctor stated.
36521396_1548634313882078_r.jpegThis is no slogan. Martha Sommers, the only doctor for 1,000 square kilometers in Northern Malawi is looking right at me. Nearly twenty-five percent of the nation is infected with the HIV virus; they have a desperate need for clean blood.

“I’m under no illusion that I will change the direction of these kids’ lives, but I can ensure that this day, today, they can have a great day.”

Being born an albino child in sub-equatorial Africa means a horrendous alienation. “If you are albino you have 100% chance of severe vision impairment, to a greater or lesser degree, you are blind or legally blind. Even if you are not physically orphaned, you are figuratively orphaned: expelled from your village because your own people are afraid of you. The blood of an albino is said to have special powers. You are shunned by your village and often hunted and your body parts are sold on the black market to be made into potions.
“I can get far more food for my kids if I take the risk. converting American cash into local currency means I feed more families, even if it means my head is on a constant swivel.
Maize is everyday fare for this school of orphans, but rice and beans are cause for vocal exuberance. A small wave of sounds and reverberate among the children. Four Hundred kilos will get them through the winter. The bags of beans and rice are a special treat.

36521396_1548634868424624_r.jpegWhen you start feeling sorry for yourself that you don’t have a Net Jets card or your yacht isn’t big enough, think about being an orphan in the one of the poorest countries in the world, where the blaze of the sub-equatorial sun will consume you and every noise in the night shudders a fear that someone is hunting you with a machete to take a limb and sell it on the black market.   Think of the deep emotional scars you carry simply because of how you were born. Add to all of this, the rawness of real hunger against the ever-present risk of contracting a deadly disease, the plight and poverty exceeds our comprehension. And still they sing and laugh and play, I need some of this this running in my veins and in my heart.
Giving may often feel like a one-way street as if the only one who benefits is the receiver. But the people who are changed are the givers. “It is changing me. This isn’t a simple matter of being grateful for all we have considering the poverty that they possess; this is quid pro quo: we give from our wealth of materials; they give from their generosity of spirit. Those of us on this trip return with only the clothes on our backs, we leave everything: luggage, shaving kits, extra clothes, every cent. Even though we return with nothing, we somehow return richer. I can’t explain it, but it’s the greatest return on investment I’ve ever experienced in 40 years of doing business.


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Roderick Brown 
Oakland, CA
Piedmont Community Church 
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