Fighting Climate Change with Faith in Malawi


Painting by Innocent Willinga, depicting climate change in Malawi
Oxfam International, via Flickr

How are you fighting climate change? Robin Basselin and Ryan Geertsma look at one community group trying to find long term solutions to the problem of drought.

Transcript


Voice 1

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Robin Basselin.

Voice 2

And I’m Ryan Geertsma. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1

In 2001, Apostle Stanley Ndovie was the leader of Living Waters Church. This church is in Malawi in Southeast Africa. At this time, Ndovie had a problem. Every day people came to him. They told him they were hungry. They did not have enough food.

Voice 2

That year there was a terrible drought in Malawi – there was very little rain. So the crops could not grow. There was not enough food to feed everyone. And the food that was left cost a lot of money.

Voice 1

Ndovie tried to solve the problem. He and his church members gave people food. But this only helped for a short time. It was not a long term solution to the drought and hunger.

Voice 2

Church members also recognized that the drought was part of something bigger. They noticed that the weather in Malawi was changing. The weather was more extreme.  This climate change made it difficult for farmers to grow food. They could not depend on the weather.

Voice 1

So Ndovie and individuals from his church decided to try something different to help. They started Eagles Relief and Development Program - or Eagles. Today’s Spotlight is on how Eagles Relief and Development Program is helping churches to fight climate change in Malawi.

Voice 2

The earth’s temperature is slowly rising. Many things influence this global warming, or climate change. But one major cause is human activity.  People and industry are producing more gases than ever before - gases like carbon dioxide and methane. These gases stay in the atmosphere and trap energy. This energy turns to heat. It is like a blanket around the earth. A person lies under a blanket to be warmer. In the same way, the gases and energy warm the earth.

Voice 1

In Malawi, climate change has affected how often it rains. It has also affected how much rain falls. Victor Mughogho is the executive director of Eagles Relief and Development Program. He described to Sojourners magazine how climate change is affecting the people of Malawi.

Voice 3

“The effects of climate change are very severe. About 85% of people in Malawi live in country areas. These people are farmers. They grow just the food they need to survive. For them, rainfall is everything. Without the rain, there is no farming, no way to live… Official records from the government show that we have had five severe droughts in the last 20 years. Because of the series of droughts, there is less and less water in the ground… Trees and grass are not growing to their full size. Rivers are becoming dry.”

Voice 2

Eagles Relief and Development Program wanted to help solve the problems of climate change in Malawi. Eagles is a Christian organization.  As Christians, they believe they should care for the poor and hungry. And Eagles bases their organization’s methods on biblical teaching.  Mughogho told Sojourners magazine about a story that influenced the organization’s methods.

Voice 3

“There is a story in the Christian Bible. Jesus Christ asks the people who are following him a question. He asks, “What do you have to feed those who are hungry?” There was a little boy with five pieces of bread and two fish. Jesus did not just create a miracle out of nothing. He started with what the people had. So, we help our communities and local churches to concentrate on resources that currently exist.”

Voice 1

In the Bible story, Jesus greatly increased the small amount of bread and fish.  He produced enough bread and fish to feed 5,000 people! But Jesus used what the people had to create the miracle. Eagles wanted to do the same thing. They wanted to serve many people in Malawi by using the small resources the local communities already had.

Voice 2

Eagles began by training pastors, the leaders of local churches. The organization helped pastors identify the needs and resources in each of their communities. Then Eagles helped pastors develop ideas to solve these needs. Finally, they helped the pastors create and share plans with other community leaders.

Voice 1

Chikwawa was one of the areas in Malawi most affected by climate change. A majority of the people did not have food. And there were no aid groups working in the area. So Eagles began working with local churches and community groups there. Together they identified the problems in the area. One problem was the kind of plants they were trying to grow. Another problem was poor soil quality.  And a third problem was child care.  Parents could not work in the fields because there was no one to watch their children.

Voice 2

Eagles helped the churches decide which problems were most important. In some areas of Chickwawa, the churches helped farmers change their crops. In the past, they had grown corn. But it did not grow well in the drier weather caused by climate change. So Eagles helped them discover new plants like cassava and sweet potato. These plants would grow better in the new, drier climate.

Voice 1

In other areas, the churches helped the community plant trees. These trees improved the soil. The trees would also reduce flooding. In other areas of Chickwawa, the local churches helped communities organize child care. With children fed and cared for, parents could continue to work.

Voice 2

Since it began, Eagles has worked with 110 local churches in Malawi. They have helped these churches discover the needs of their communities. And they have taught these churches how to solve the needs.

Voice 1

Kona is an 80 year old man from Malawi. He lived in a very small house. It was made of grass, wet dirt or mud, and corn plants. When it rained, water leaked into the house. Eagles worked with the church in Kona’s area. The church used its resources to build Kona a brick house. This material was solid. It did not let rain in. Kona told Eagles,

Voice 4

“My life was hard, especially in the rainy season. But thanks to the church, I have a new house.”

Voice 2

By combining their faith with their resources, Eagles Relief and Development Program is able to help improve communities in Malawi. But their work is not finished. Mughogho knows that it will take the work of many people to continue working against climate change. He told Sojourners,

Voice 3

“Every person needs to be part of the solution because we are part of the problem. It is a defining time. Everything has to be more - we must pray more; those who can write, must write more on these issues; those who can research need to do that more.”

Voice 1

The writer of this program was Courtney Schutt. The producer was Mark Drenth. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again and read it on the Internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, “Fighting Climate Change with Faith in Malawi.”

Voice 2

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

How does climate change affect your country or city?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
georgino
said on July 29, 2013

The gobal warming is serious   problem around the world the earth already no produce
We need more eagles relief and development programs to care the people and the planet too.
Stop the contamination please…...

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Hangcoi
said on July 30, 2013

Hi every one, I’m Vietmanese. My country is of five countries severely afftected by climate change. I gradually felt that change, more rain, more floods and the phenomenon of sea encroachment.
Every one can do simple things to protect the Earth, such as plants, turn off unnecessary electrical epuipments. The mother Earth is in need our help.

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vivianhuang
said on August 01, 2013

Biblical teaching is always helpful.Give us wisdom and show us the best way.

“Every person needs to be part of the solution because we are part of the problem. “I can not agree with it more.

Not only know how to create or give things to what the need. The best way it should start with what they had.And find the suitable solution.

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kenhieuloilam
said on August 01, 2013

When we are hungry we wish to get food. We wish to get food everyday. When we have problems we wish to find good solutions. We wish to find good solutions together. We share difficulty. We share happiness. We sacrifice for beautiful good things. Our lives have many difficulties. We wish to be physically and spiritually full enough. We wish to be not hungry and thirsty any more.

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Mss Flamboyant
said on August 31, 2014

Global warming or climate change is a pressing problem which needs all countries solve together. There are many reasons affect our environment, but the majority cause is human activity.  We need change our opinion about daily activities which affect our habitance directly. First of all, Please turn the lights off when you leave a room even for a few minutes. Secondly, we should buy gadgets which are more energy efficient and limit the amount of time we use them. Thirdly, to reduce the effect of the greenhouse gases have on our atmosphere we should plant more trees. Trees can absorb carbon dioxide.

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thuydzung
said on September 04, 2014

i have an essay about subject: wether and climate, and i dont know how to start this subject. Can you help me for an topic sentence.

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thanhdung07121985@gmail.com
said on February 28, 2015

I know Africa is continent which has the most desert all the world.Most of African Citizen have to suffer from starvation cause of drought prolonging all year around.I felt sorry for people both children and adult died from starvation.They lied freedom on the streets and hoped someone carried food to them.So,we are very luck living in good and enough condition.We shouldn’t waste anythings.We need share poor people what   we have!