A Day at the Church and Business Centre

Tuesday, April 04, 2017
Lilongwe, Malawi
We got off to an 8:30 a.m. start when the four came to pick us up. We have a building committee meeting at 10 a.m., but wanted to take care of a few things in town before coming over.

At breakfast, we appreciate having BBC World News . There's that and Al Jazeera that is the only news that we get at the guest lodge "fit for royalty."   But, the news around the world is bad. Terrorism killing 14 in St. Petersburg and a mudslide in Colombia killing 275 or so. Being here in an economically depressed area trying to make a difference in an unequal world on top of all the bad news is discomforting, but we must do what we can. As we were eating breakfast, the big manager of the hotel came by to chat with us. 

We went to town to change money into Malawi Kwachas. The nice little shopping center has police/soldiers with automatic rifles. You don’t argue with them. Our fun expressions were “Uzzie does it” and Brennan’s “The man with the machine gun wins!”  

Then we went to the Church hall for the building committee meeting scheduled for 10:00 a.m. The building committee meeting started late, but we do understand that some had a long way to come. The head of the committee got the day mixed up and wasn’t there . Those who were present were Joseph, Lewis, Thungula, Cephas, Fraser, Roderick, Alfred, Bev and me.

I opened in prayer. Then Beverly started with talking about where the project is and what are we doing. We have come to an impasse with the building contractor for remodeling the church hall. The work was to be finished in December and here we are in April and there is still much to do. Excuses, delays, and “hard luck” stories abound. Now, more excuses why we can’t get to finishing the tile floor. We decided not to have him continue and properly terminate the contract. We will take the remainder of the church building project into our own hands and have the church do it. At first, we needed a contractor, but now we think we can do it ourselves. The job has to get finished and get finished right!

After the meeting, Brennan and Michala went to get pizza and with other goodies that we bought at our own grocery, we had lunch in the meeting room

Then Joseph, Bev and I talked for a while. Joseph Mughogho is the LifeNets Business Manager. A top-notch person in professionalism and integrity. We talked about the challenges of the Business Center and grocery. We need a bit more oomph in marketing. We need a grocery that people can walk into. We need to build demand for use of the Internet Café. We are across the street from a school. Business runs well when school is in. The country has gone through drought and other economic problems (what else is new?) so expendable income has been slow.

The grocery has a higher sales volume, but lower profit. The Internet café is almost all profit. We talked a lot about the future of LifeNets here in Malawi. Very useful and optimistic discussion about all that can be done.

Joseph is writing a thesis on the sustainability of NGO’s in Malawi for his Master’s Program in school. Malawi is heavily dependent on outside funding for survival . There has been a dramatic shift away from funding AIDS/HIV programs to funding programs combating tuberculosis and malaria. One of our members died not long ago of TB.

The afternoon conversation was so enlightening. It’s only by coming here that you really can get to fully understand what we accomplish through the Church and LifeNets. One interesting fact Joseph brought forward was that NGO’s (Non-government organizations) like LifeNets are not treated charitably at times; rather they are looked at as those who bring money and are sources of MONEY. In the desperate economy like this, people are driven to every means to grasp at anything, compromising values. That’s one thing that we try to teach in the Church here. Trust God, learn true values and gain values honestly. Joseph, in conversation, brought out how we wanted to buy a printer/copy machine for our Business Center. When he asked about it as being for LifeNets, the price was more than double of what he actually bought it for later as just a local person.

Here’s one interesting thing that’s happened. Brennan Hilgen has placed LifeNets Business Centre on Google Maps. Try it and see if you can get to it. Just be sure to spell CENTRE…the British way. The English that is used here is British English.  

We love being in Malawi. The Malawians are truly a kind and gentle people. Their motto is “The Warm Heart of Africa” and this is so true. 
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Christina (Davis) Pate

Yes--Lifenets Business Centre" in Lilongwe auto populates as the #2 listing in Google Maps when I type from Seattle, WA, USA. Very cool!

Christina (Davis) Pate

Yes--Lifenets Business Centre" in Lilongwe auto populates as the #2 listing in Google Maps when I type from Seattle, WA, USA. Very cool!