Sponsorship brings a better life for an entire family

The story of 14-year-old Lisungu in Malawi shows how World Vision child sponsorship helps bring holistic change to a family and entire community in need — giving kids more time to simply enjoy being young.

Story and photos by Wezzie Banda, World Vision Malawi.
Published January 22, 2013 at 12:00am PST

Lisungu’s father, Fred, 40, and mother, Mirriam, 34, earn a living through small-scale farming. The couple grows maize, millet, and sorghum for food, as well as cotton, which they sell for income.

For the past four years, the people of Chikhwawa have struggled to harvest adequate food, due to prolonged droughts. Crops have been wilting from a lack of rainfall, and hunger is a big problem.

Nevertheless, Lisungu’s family has managed to survive. The family adopted modern farming techniques that they learned from World Vision — such as irrigation and use of drought-resistant seeds.

World Vision’s sponsorship program has helped the community in various other ways, too — including the drilling of clean water boreholes, construction of schools, and introduction of livestock farming.

Burdens eased

Lisungu explains her daily routine, her dreams, and how sponsorship has changed her life and the lives of other children in Kunyinda.

“Currently, I am in grade 7 at Nachipere Primary School,” she says. “I like English, and I would like to become a journalist when I finish school. I would like to communicate to the rest of the world the various issues concerning my country.”

Lisungu stands with her family outside their home in Malawi.Lisungu wakes up at 5 each morning to help fetch water, clean the house, and cook breakfast.

“World Vision drilled a borehole in our community, and we no longer travel a long distance to fetch water for cooking, washing, and cleaning,” Lisungu says, adding that walking such a distance made her too tired to concentrate at school.

“Sometimes we were forced to collect water from an unprotected well,” Lisungu remembers. “The water was very dirty, and it made me and my family members sick from diarrhea. This also affected my education.”

Water wasn’t the only resource far away. Before World Vision constructed a school nearby, Lisungu and her sibilings were forced to walk more than six miles to go to class. “I used to feel pain in my legs, and I was not attending school regularly,” she says.

More time to enjoy being young

Nowadays, Lisungu’s classes start at 7 a.m. and conclude at about 1 in the afternoon. After school, she goes home and helps her mother wash dishes and look after her youngest sister, Eliza. Then, she does her homework and goes out to play with her friends.

“I like playing netball with friends. I have a small ball, which I made from plastic papers,” she says. “I also like singing, and I am a member of the church choir…my parents always encourage us to attend church on Sundays.”

Lisungu helps care for the goats her family received through World Vision.Previously, food shortages forced Lisungu’s family to eat only once a day. Most of the time, Lisungu went to school on an empty stomach. But since Lisungu’s parents were trained by World Vision on irrigation farming, things have changed.

“I was going to school without taking any food. It was hard for me to listen to what the teachers were saying, and I was scoring bad grades,” Lisungu remembers. “But now I am happy, because we are able to harvest some food.”

An extra gift

Crops are no longer the family’s only source of income or food, either. A few years ago, World Vision loaned them two goats, which have since multiplied to six. The original two have been returned, so now they have four of their own.

“I like feeding these goats with grass,” Lisungu says. “They are our treasure, and I know they are going to help me and my sisters in future.”

The goats help provide income for the family to pay school fees. They also produce valuable fertilizer for the crops. After selling a recent surplus of those crops, Lisungu’s parents were able to purchase a bicycle.

Lisungu and her sister ride the family's new bicycle.Lisungu says that the bicycle has made it easier for the family to get to the market, maize mill, clinic, and school.

Many still in need

But Lisungu’s region still faces major challenges. About 1.6 million people in Malawi have been affected by drought. Many families don’t have food.

“I feel sorry to see some of my friends coming to school hungry,” Lisungu says. “I hope the situation will change one day change.”

In partnership with the World Food Program, World Vision is distributing food to about 22,000 families that have been affected by drought in Malawi’s Chikhwawa district.

The distributions will continue until the beginning of the next harvest. Interventions like these are funded by the generous support of child sponsors, whose commitment to children like Lisungu help build better lives for families and entire communities.

Two ways you can help

Please pray for the return of steady rains and good harvests in Malawi, where families have faced severe food shortages because of drought. Thank God that Lisungu and her family have found greater stability amid difficult times.

Sponsor a child in Malawi or another country of your choice. Through sponsorship, you’ll connect with a child who will know your name and benefit from your support; and you’ll help bring life-giving basics — like nutritious food, clean water, medical care, and education — to an entire family and community in need.