What a beautiful country filled with such beautiful people. I still can’t believe that I am so blessed to be able to say that I’ve been to Malawi and I was part of the Africa Learning Team, and I have the Mississauga South community to thank.

Travelling to Africa and meeting the people had always been a dream of mine. When the opportunity came up to travel and learn about this amazing continent I knew my chance had finally arrived. Knowing this trip would be costly, I turned to the community for help. Through a massive garage sale, and a fundraiser bbq, I was able to come up with the funds to send me across the ocean and fulfill my life long drea.

People have asked me what the best part of my trip was and I have such a hard time answering because there were so many amazing aspects. I will always remember meeting both of my family’s sponsor children. It was such a blessing to be able to personally connect with the children as well as their mothers. I look forward to continuing to connect our families through letters and pictures.

As I said, my mind was blown by the all of the amazing things we saw as a result of the work of the staff and volunteers. I especially appreciated hearing the stories of the changes that were made possible by a new borehole. For one family in particular, having clean water available meant that the children weren’t late for school because the mother didn’t have to walk for hours to get water. The children also missed fewer days of school due to water-borne illnesses. The mother now has much more time to invest in her family, her home, her garden and potentially a small business because she isn’t spending nearly as much time fetching water. The ripple effects from the borehole were incredible.

Before the trip, I wasn’t very familiar with any of the work BIC Malawi did. Being able to connect with our brothers and sisters in the BIC church family was inspiring. The stories we heard and are now able to share with friends here were touching – some very sad and many more really uplifting. Now that I’ve seen and heard so many of the wonderful things that the pastors are doing – caring for their people, dealing with HIV/AIDS in their communities, teaching young pastors – I am so impressed. I’m proud to say that we partner with these amazing men and women. The financial help is a tangible way we can help the Bishop and pastors in Malawi, but the relationships that have been built over time are equally important.

The way the commun20140728_120205 2ity members all work together for common goals was absolutely inspiring to me. The people that we met all have so much hope. They have come so far in a relatively short period of time and they are excited about what the future holds. Malawi used to be just a place on a map, now it is part of my life story and testimony.

To my family, friends and South Mississauga community, I would like to thank you so much for your generous support with the fundraising efforts for my trip to Malawi. Being a part of the Africa Learning Team was truly a life-changing experience and I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity.

Story written by: Valerie Stacey