Thursday, May 14, 2009

Program Updates

Thank you all for your continued and dedicated support of our growing programs over the months. Your support continues to be meaningful to us and our partners, as together we work toward a "better life" for all. We hope you enjoy reading the stories below and staying connected to the amazing women and youth who find community and hope through our programs.

Dustin & Cara, Co-founders

Bola Moyo Youth CentreBola Moyo Youth
The House of Many Stories Youth Centre has experienced unprecedented growth in the past few months. Last year we had about 20-50 youth attending per day, but recently we've often had more than 150 youth in attendance on any given day! The youth continue to experience our multi-faceted curriculum - including music, drama, art, debate, sports, and agricultural training - which is designed to engage them in creative problem-solving and critical thinking. Our recent growth indicates that our programs continue to fulfill a great need within the community.

Our Board Secretary, Desirée, recently took a trip to Balaka and had fun traveling to Najuchi in east Malawi on the train with a group of our youth. On this trip, Desirée, two Bola Moyo staff members, and many of our youth had the opportunity to see the Malawian countryside and even briefly visit Mozambique! This was quite the exciting trip for the youth, as many of them had never before had the opportunity to leave Balaka.

ALiCE (Adult LiteBola Moyo Womenracy and Continuing Education)
ALiCE is proud to announce our first graduating class of Adult Education students, who passed their Standard 8 exams in Fall 2008! This year we continue to support Katherine, an ALiCE 2008 graduate (age 25 and married with two children), as she pursues her education at a secondary school in Balaka. In the future we hope we can support more students as they continue onto secondary school. Our new class of Standard 8 adult students can only be described as studious - perhaps even nerdy(!) - as they eagerly devour lessons in English, Mathematics, Chichewa, and Health Education every weekday at the Bola Moyo Center. The Adult Literacy School has also recently been flooded with new attendees, who came as a result of an announcement at the Balaka Muslim
Association. In Malawi there has traditionally been some animosity between Christians and Muslims. This is the first time for many of the women of these two groups to work together so closely, as th
ey learn every day at the Bola Moyo Literacy School.

Visit Balaka Via Youtube!

Check out some new videos of our Youth Centre here.

These were recorded by Desiree Cooper on her last trip to Malawi.

You can read more about her trip in the post below.

Letter from Desiree

Desiree and Rose

Moni Kwaonse!
Greetings to all!!

You may remember me from newsletters in previous years, first as an Intern and then as the Executive Assistant. Although I moved to England in summer 2007 to pursue a Masters in Development Management at the London School of Economics, my dedication to Bola Moyo has grown even stronger in the years since I left the Portland office. Now I serve as Secretary on Bola Moyo's Board of Directors, a role I have filled since Fall 2008. I've had the wonderful opportunity to take three trips to Malawi in the past year and a half.

I first visited Bola Moyo in Malawi in late 2007 during a break from the internship I had at that point in Kenya. Then I had the privilege to spend summer 2008 in Balaka working with Bola Moyo's staff to strengthen our Adult Education programming. Most recently, in March and April I had a five-week break from my graduate program in London, and I took the opportunity to spend a month in Balaka assessing all of our programs.

I'll admit that I was a bit nervous, since it was my first time without Dustin and Cara also there to hold my hand the whole way. But I'm happy to report that the trip turned out to be a rousing success. I had a wonderful time bonding with our Malawian program staff and participants. The youth centre and the adult education program are not only doing well, but are vibrant, alive, and kicking! More than ever before I am inspired by the dedication of our Malawian staff and participants, who have made our work in Balaka a continuous success.

Now I am back in London where I am busily writing my thesis on primary education in Malawi, but I'm already looking forward to the day that I can once again return to Balaka!

Lero Labwino
Have a great day!
Desiree Cooper

Rose Mbendera

A Profile of our Adult Education Manager

Mrs. Mbendera is one of our newest employees, having joined Bola Moyo in Balaka in January 2008. Rose leads the adult literacy classes that take place in the afternoon every weekday at the Bola Moyo Center. The lessons she gives to our adult students include English, Mathematics, and Chichewa (the local language). Her students are generally women aged 16 to 65 who either had to drop out of school around 2nd or 3rd grade, or who never had the opportunity to attend school at all in the past.

Rose originally hales from Mchinji district in the far west of Malawi, although she spent many of her formative years in Zambia. She moved to Balaka in 1972 when she married her husband, who is a retired police officer. She has five adult sons.

Bola Moyo WomenRose was a housewife for 32 years, but after her children left home she decided to dedicate her life to promoting adult literacy and education in her community. She developed her own adult literacy program and curriculum, which she taught in Balaka with spirited dedication solely on a voluntary basis for six years. In early 2007, we decided she was so talented that we would swoop her up and give her a job to continue doing what she does best.

She also manages the Adult Education portion of ALiCE, where women who have reached at least Standard 5 can study a more formal curriculum to eventually take their Standard 8 exams. In the future we hope to expand the program to support students who want to go onto secondary school and beyond.

Rose is an invaluable employee who has been instrumental in the success of our adult education programs. Zikomo kwambiri (thanks very much), Rose!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Bola Moyo in Black and White

Here are some great sketches of some wonderful times at Bola Moyo by Lawrence, one of our favorite Balaka artists.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Just Some of the Latest from Balaka, Malawi

note: Sorry for the lack of pictures in this blog post. I'm posting this in Malawi and the connection is too slow to allow for the required uploading. -Dustin

Note from our Program Coordinator, Margaret Nandoli

Hello, Muli Bwanji (How are you)? My name is Margaret Nandoli, I am Bola Moyo’s Program Coordinator in Balaka. I am a widow with one child. I met Cara and Dustin Pattison in 2005 and in 2006 helped them start the projects here. I want to personally thank all of you in the US for your support of Bola Moyo. When we started the project we had no idea we would come this far. All the time, we are having more children join our youth centre and we are always hearing how happy the parents are of what the children are learning and who they are becoming. By being a part of our youth clubs, these children are able to keep away from more harmful behaviors and pastimes. Many of them are showing great potential, some in music, some in art, some in writing, and some in sports. We are also very joyful over the ‘Adult Education’ Program that began in January. It is headed by Rose Mbendera. She has registered a total of 48 women in this program and expects that, by next January, it will have grown even more. I want to thank you again for your support of these projects.

On behalf of the rest of Bola Moyo’s Malawian staff, we say ‘God bless you’ and ‘Moni kwaonse’ (Greetings to all).
Margaret Nandoli, Program Coordinator

Note from the Director

As I write this, I sit at the dining room table of the Bola Moyo house in Balaka, Malawi. Because the sitting and dining rooms are really one large space, I am surrounded by windows. If I look through the window to my right and strain my ears a bit, I can eavesdrop on the group of about 40 children who are debating and discussing the issue of deforestation in Malawi (‘The Environment’ is this week’s theme at the Youth Centre). If I turn my head to the left I see a group of 15 women, ranging in age from 20 to 65, sitting in the shade of what we like to call ‘the summer hut’. They are busy learning how to read and write. This is the ‘Adult Literacy’ group which is a part of our new ‘Adult Education’ Program. Looking straight ahead, I can marvel (yes, marvel) at the ingenuity and skill of the youth in our PRIDE Program who have erected a beautiful structure from local materials in our side yard, whose purpose is to provide a hospitable environment for growing edible mushrooms. This mushroom project is just one of the income-generating activities that are helping Bola Moyo move toward a self-sustaining future. All around the Bola Moyo house, one can feel the excitement and the strong sense of belonging that has developed around this place and these projects. Keep scrolling down the page to find several brief articles and stories meant to give you a sort-of snapshot image of what is going on here in Balaka. Enjoy!

Khalani Bwino,
Stay well,
Dustin Pattison, Director

Adult Education Update

In case you’ve not yet heard, we are excited to introduce you to our new Adult Education program! The idea for this program came from our Malawian staff as they recognized that many of the parents of the youth attending the Youth Centre did not know how to read or write. We went to these parents and asked them whether they might be interested in learning these skills and they said “Of course!” To head up this program, we hired Rose Mbendera, who has a stellar reputation in the Balaka community for her efforts in the area of Adult Literacy. These adult students are not only learning to read and write but, through this program, will be able to continue their studies up through a junior high level (and hopefully up through high school once we have enough teaching staff). Almost every one of the participants started formal schooling at one time or another but for various reasons were forced to drop out. Through participating in this program, students learn basic and valuable skills of reading and math that allow them to better navigate life in Malawi (buying and selling in the market, reading basic signs and prescription labels, etc.) and, what’s more, by continuing their otherwise thwarted educations, they will be able to fulfill dreams of making better wages and building a better life for themselves and their families. Our board member/volunteer from the US, Desiree Cooper has been working closely with this program and has been building relationships with the students, getting to know their individual situations and needs. Three of our students just took the 8th grade test that will get them into high school (Desiree has written a profile of two of these students, Martha and Violet, that you can read below). We are extremely excited about this and eager to hear the results when they are posted in late November. A big thank you to all our supporters for helping us get such a great and meaningful progam off the ground!

Adult Ed Profiles: Martha and Violet
By Desiree Cooper, Board Member

Martha and Violet are two students in Bola Moyo’s Adult Education program who took their Standard 8 (equivalent to 8th grade) exams in early September. In Malawi, every student must pass these exams before they are eligible for Secondary School. Martha and Violet attend classes at Bola Moyo every weekday afternoon in preparation for these exams. I adored seeing them both study so diligently, and I felt an immense sense of pride in Bola Moyo's work seeing them improve every day. They have built a strong friendship with each other and assist one another with their studies.

Violet, now aged 25, originally dropped out of Standard 8 back in 1999 because she fell ill and was too sick at that time to register and study for her exams. She married her husband in 2000 and now has two young children by him.

Martha, now aged 23, finished Standard 8 back in 2000; however, she never took the Standard 8 exams because her father died during the school year, and as often happens in Malawi, his relatives came to their home after he passed away and took all of their belongings. She then had no one to pay her exam fees. She married her husband in 2002, and like Violet, now has two young children. Her infant son, Limbani, comes with her every day to classes.

Both women began loyally attending Bola Moyo’s Adult Education classes back in mid-January, after they heard about the program from friends. They both badly wanted to continue their education, but they had never before had the time to attend regular school and didn't have the money for exam fees. Now they take classes in English, Science, Chichewa (Malawi's official language), Social Studies, and Mathematics. Martha's favorite subject is Social Studies and Violet's is Math.

After they receive the results of their Standard 8 exams and have found that they have passed, both women desire to go on to Secondary School. They both hope to obtain employment after completing Secondary School; specifically, Violet wants to be a secretary at a government institution and Violet plans to be a nurse.

All my best to Martha and Violet as they continue on this exciting journey!

Youth Centre Update

The Youth Centre continues to go strong. We’ve added new activities such as small-group lessons for guitar, keyboard, and drums. The youth are getting really excited about the upcoming year with its line-up of interesting and inspiring guest speakers and field trips. We’ve been receiving great news from the guardians of many of our youth as to how their children’s involvement with Bola Moyo is positively influencing their behaviors at home and performances in school. Because of our reputation within the district (which is sort of like a county) and the dedication of our youth, three girls from the Centre were chosen by the District Youth Office to go to the Capital City this next year to represent the District in what is called the National Youth Congress. Congratulations Chisomo, Grace, and Maria!

Our New Football (as in Soccer) and Netball Teams

This year, a group of boys from Bola Moyo, with the help of Mr. Ngumbi, a member of our youth staff, are forming a soccer team. Possibly, the girls will also be forming a netball team (netball is similar to basketball). They will play in leagues that include other youth clubs from throughout the District. These team sports offer a great way to spread the word about what Bola Moyo is doing in the town of Balaka while building an even stronger sense of belonging, teamwork, self-confidence and fair-play among the Bola Moyo youth. If you or anyone you know would like to donate money or resources to these teams (we will need more balls and uniforms), please contact Dustin at 1-503-508-8898.

At the Crossroads

Right now begins the time for registering participants in Malawi’s big annual music competition, Crossroads, which takes place in late November (the local competitions) and January (the final national competition). A handful of our youth (six of them, to be exact) are very excited about this because they are entering the competition as a band (three djembe drummers, a keyboardist, and two singers). A member of our Malawian staff, Isaac Liwotcha, who is himself a fairly well-known and adored musician here in Malawi, is helping them to compose and rehearse the song with which they will compete. Crossroads starts as a week-long series of workshops where each instrumentalist and vocalist will be able to improve their respective skills. At the end of this week, the first local competitions take place. The winners of these competitions compete with each other in the Nationals come January and the group that wins the Grand Prize will get to travel to Europe and the US to perform! Keep your fingers crossed for the young musicians of Bola Moyo!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Jubilee Act Met With Bi-Partisan support in Congress!

Many of our volunteers and supporters are active in advocating for the cancellation of illegitimate and odious debts owed by the world's poorest countries to richer countries and financial institutions such as the IMF and World Bank. The Jubilee Act has recently passed through Congress and is headed to the Senate! Find out more about the Jubilee Act and the people that are helping to make this dream a reality at then contact your Senator and ask her/him to co-sponsor this bill.

Here is a press release in response to the bills passage through the House:

Churches, Development Advocates Praise Congress’ Passage of Legislation for Expanded International Debt Cancellation

Jubilee Act for Responsible Lending and Expanded Debt Cancellation Passes House of Representatives with Bi-Partisan Support; Senate Panel to Consider Issue April 24

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Contact: Eleiza Braun, Massey Media, 415-420-4059
Neil Watkins, Jubilee USA, 202-783-0129, 202-421-1023 (c)

WASHINGTON – Leaders of churches, development agencies, civil rights, labor, and human rights groups today praised the passage by the US House of Representatives by a vote of 285-132 of the Jubilee Act (HR 2634). The legislation calls the US Treasury Department to negotiate a multilateral agreement for debt cancellation for up to 24 additional poor countries that need cancellation to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Jubilee USA Network is an alliance of 80 organizations that has been leading the advocacy for the legislation. “We commend the US Congress for its bold step in passing the Jubilee Act and listening to the people of the impoverished nations who have borne the burden of unjust debt for far too long,” said Patricia Rumer, co-chair of the Board of Jubilee USA Network. “We hope that House passage will inspire the US Senate to move quickly to also pass the Jubilee Act and send it to the President for immediate action.”

“As Pope Benedict XVI makes his first Apostolic Visit to the United States, it is fitting that Congress show support for this important initiative that would help alleviate the debt burden of some of our poorest brothers and sisters around the world,” wrote Reverend Thomas G. Wenski, Bishop of Orlando and Chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops in a letter to Congress.

The legislation was introduced by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Spencer Bachus (R-AL) in June 2007 and enjoyed the support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. A letter from leading Congressional supporters of the bill was circulated in Congress on Monday by Waters, Bachus, Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL). Jubilee USA is looking into the impact of an amendment that was attached to the bill in the final minutes of the floor debate which prohibits eligibility for countries with business interests in Iran.

In addition to authorizing broader debt cancellation, the bill seeks to reform current IMF/World Bank policies and other global lending practices by:

* Urging that more resources be devoted to grants for the world’s poorest countries;

* Requiring greater transparency at the IFIs, including a policy of maximum disclosure in project and loan documents;

* Urging the development of a binding framework for more responsible lending practices in the future;

* Limiting the conditions that may be required of countries going through the debt relief process to those ensuring that money released by debt relief is used transparently and accountably to address poverty; and

* Directing the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to undertake an audit of “odious, onerous, or illegal” lending by the World Bank, IMF, and US government in specific countries.

Companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate (S. 2166), where the bill enjoys strong bi-partisan support and 26 co-sponsors. A hearing on the Senate companion to the Jubilee Act will be held in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday, April 24 at 2 p.m. in Dirksen Senate Office Building Rm. 419. More information on debt and the legislation is available at

Statements from Faith, Development, Civil Rights, Worker Rights, and Human Rights Leaders Following Passage of the Jubilee Act:

“We applaud the House of Representatives for its bi-partisan commitment to God’s children suffering from overwhelming debt burdens and extreme poverty by passing the Jubilee Act.” said Rev. Peter Rogness, Bishop of St. Paul, Minnesota and chair of the International Policy Committee of the Conference of Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. “Too many suffer under crushing burdens of debt that bury them in poverty. The Biblical vision of Jubilee is one that brings hope for the future for all of God’s children. This legislation will help achieve that vision.”

"We congratulate the House of Representatives for passing this important bill today, and urge the Senate to follow suit. Debt relief for the world's poorest countries is an essential building block for sustainable, equitable, and democratic development -- and also for a global economy that works for working families, here and around the world," said John J. Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO.

“The passage of the Jubilee Act by the House of Representatives is an important step towards building a world in which deadly poverty no longer stands in the way of the full flourishing of all God’s people,” said Rev. Dr. Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, (U.S.A.)

"The NAACP was pleased and encouraged to see the Jubilee Act pass the House of Representatives with such strong bi-partisan support," said Hilary O. Shelton, the Director of the NAACP Washington Bureau. "The United States must work to help the poorest countries throughout the world eliminate debilitating debt which undermines their ability to provide basic human needs such food, housing, education, health care and infrastructure development for their people now more than ever. We must now work hard to see the Senate act as quickly and as positively as the House so that this legislation can soon become the law of the land."

"American Jewish World Service applauds the House for passing the Jubilee Act,” said Ruth Messinger, President of American Jewish World Service. “Funds going from poor countries to well-heeled financial institutions to service debt should instead be used to improve education, provide better healthcare for all people, and increase food security for the poorest. The House has spoken and the Senate must now take action to ensure that our prosperity is not a reward for exploiting developing nations."

“We have been hoping and praying that the Jubilee Act is passed by Congress,” said Jim Winkler, top executive of the United Methodist Church Board of Church and Society. “We’re excited they’ve recognized that we must to do more to relieve the unbelievable burden that is preventing struggling countries from advancing. It is a justice issue, pure and simple.”

“The passage of the Jubilee Act in the House of Representatives represents a major milestone in the movement for debt cancellation,” said Adam Taylor, Senior Political Director of Sojourners. “Thanks to the Jubilee campaign, debt cancellation has become a bipartisan cause and a moral imperative. Sojourners now calls on the Senate to provide the bold and immediate leadership necessary to pass the Jubilee Act so that we can move a major step closer to restoring right relationships and achieving the Millennium Development Goals.”

“The passage of the Jubilee Act is another great milestone in the effort to remove the burden of unpayable debt that’s slowing the pace of development in the world’s poorest countries. The Jubilee coalition continues to be an effective voice for poor people around the world,” said Rev. David Beckmann, President of Bread for the World.

“Passing the Jubilee Act is a leap forward for the U.S. in living up to its promises to fight global poverty,” said Gerald LeMelle, Executive Director of Africa Action. “For years, the chains of illegitimate debt have crippled the ability of African countries to provide healthcare and education for their citizens. I applaud the House of Representatives for passing this bill, and urge the Senate to demonstrate a similar commitment to smart, people-driven development policy.”

“Passage of the Jubilee Act in the U.S. House of Representatives is welcome news to the people of Haiti. Meanwhile, Haitians are drinking dangerous water, eating mud cakes and dying of easily treatable diseases as the Haitian government weekly sends more than $1 million to development banks, repaying loans made to corrupt regimes like the decades-long Duvalier dictatorship,” said Brian Concannon, director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. “The $71.7 million Haiti will send to the World Bank and the Inter-American Bank this year alone could be better spent feeding Haitian citizens and stimulating Haiti’s economy. IJDH strongly urges the Senate to pass the Jubilee Act and give Haiti’s troubled democracy a chance to work.”

“It is incumbent upon the Senate to pass the Jubilee Act if there is to be any chance of fulfilling the promises made in the Millennium Development Goals. Wipe out debt, wipe out poverty!” said Kim Nichols, co-Executive Director of New York-based African Services Committee.

“The Jubilee Act is essential to pave the path to debt cancellation for those poor countries that have not gotten debt relief and to help prevent countries that have already benefited from sliding back into further indebtedness and from being subjected to harmful conditionalities from the International Financial institutions,” said Katherine Hoyt, National Co-Coordinator, Nicaragua Network.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Look What's Happening at the New House of Many Stories! - Part II

As promised, here are some more pictures and updates from Malawi. Most of these pictures were taken in January of this year.

For a variety of reasons, economic and cultural (these will be described in more detail on our website soon), it is difficult for a girl in Malawi to pursue an education. As a result many young girls are left with no other option than early marriage and motherhood and older women often lack the knowledge (read: power) to improve their own or their families' situation. So, one of the most exciting things to happen so far this year is the birth of a brand new program that offers Adult Literacy and Continuing Education courses to the women of Balaka.

Rose Mbendera is heading up this new endeavor. We'll have a bio (her story is an inspiring one) on our website very soon.

The classes are only a few months old but they are growing by leaps and bounds. They began in what was the dining room of Bola Moyo's rented house in Balaka...

...and soon, we were persuaded to transform the living room into a classroom.

Here is one of Rose's less shy students demonstrating her English abilities.

Now, almost 4 months into it, the living room turned classroom is also no longer a suitable size for our adult students. We are currently trying to locate a larger, yet affordable and conveniently situated, space in which these activities can take place.

As we also work to accomodate the growing number of youth attending the Center, here they are as they unload bricks that will be the floor of one of the new outdoor shelters (see previous post).

George, a member of Bola Moyo's staff, builds what will become the composting area for our Organic Learning Garden.

Some of the youth get to help start the first compost heap.

Can you see that good-looking corn peeking over the fence of the garden? It's almost harvest time.

A few of our PRIDE kids (this is about half of our pilot group for the new PRIDE program) show off the PRIDE sign which is meant to symbolize 'togetherness'

Maria sings us a solo.

Mphatso tries his hand as a teacher.

Margaret tries teaching me how to carry large, heavy buckets of water on my head. I honestly don't know how they do this.

A party would not be enough to show our staff and their families just how much we appreciate the work they do and how much we love working with them but in late January, we threw one anyway!

And stay tuned for more...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Look What's Happening at the New House of Many Stories! - Part I

Wow, so much has happened since our last blog posting! We apologize that our updates have been few and far between. I guess we get so busy and so excited with what's going on in Malawi, that we often forget to let you in on all of the latest.

Cara and I (Dustin) returned from Malawi at the end of January. We were there for two months and we were honored and pleased to have my father with us for the month of December. This blog post is part I of a photo-logue of some of the latest happenings for Bola Moyo. Part II will be posted in a few days.

In December, on our arrival in Balaka, we were welcomed, as is often the case, with an afternoon full of original skits and celebratory songs and dances.

Kwatha showing us her moves!

Some of our PRIDE kids have discovered an interest in acrobatics.

These costumes are modeled after those worn in the Gule Wamkulu or "Great Dance" - a group of dances performed by an elite and masked society of men, chosen and known only by tribal chiefs, at initiation ceremonies, funerals, and the celebrations of Malawi's Chewa tribe.

In previous postings, you might have seen some pictures of the building in which our youth clubs were meeting. At the end of last year, we lost the use of that building as it was going to be rented out to another business at a much higher rate than we could pay. The activities of our youth center, along with the library, were then moved to the house that we've been renting, and using as living space, for ourselves, Margaret (our Malawian Program Coordinator), and other visitors. This is a temporary situation but, so far, has worked out really well.

The house is nicely situated in the center of the neighborhood from which most of our youth come. We also now have more space for games and sports and other activities that need to occur out of doors.

The only true downside to this new setting is the lack of indoor space. Bola Moyo's Malawian staff, however, in their incredible resourcefulness, solved this problem by constructing a couple outdoor structures that would act as protection from the elements. Here are some pictures of the beautiful thatched-roof shelters that were built to accomodate our rowdy group of youngsters. This smaller structure is called "The Summer Hut." The reason for this name is that many households will construct similar huts for the purpose of providing shade in the hottest season.

This larger structure is referred to merely as "The Shade." Margaret's nephew, Madalitso, is the one you see doing the construction. I'm sure I've not met a harder worker than this young man.

Our library in what used to be the dining room:

At the end of December, the staff and youth of The House of Many Stories invited their parents and other members of the community to an Open House at which the activities and opportunities of the youth center as well as the skills and talents of the youth were on display. The Open House took place at the local Baptist Church.

Here are Margaret and some of the youth as they prepare for the Open House.

Margaret and Isaac show some parents some of the things their children have accomplished at the Youth Center.

The program for the day included a Christmas-themed play that the youth and my father, with his dramatic expertise, wrote and put together.

Of course, no celebration in Malawi is complete without snacks and lots and lots of dancing.

It's not often that we get to join our Malawian staff in welcoming other visitors from America (Malawi's not exactly the easiest country to get to). Recently, however, we've been happy to have many such visits: father, John Pattison, who we've mentioned already,

...our good friend Liz Reilly (and Bola Moyo's board presdient) was with us for the Open House festivities,

...our former intern and American staff member, Desiree, took a break from a stay in Kenya to come and visit us for a couple of weeks,

... and Kim and Pandy Pinto, now living in Portland, stopped by too. Pandy is a Malawian. Kim and Pandy met when Kim was serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi. After some years, they finally got a chance to return to Malawi to visit Pandy's family and allow their son, Denzel, to see, for the first time, where his father grew up.

Here are some more pictures taken in December of '07 at the new House of Many Stories Youth Centre.