Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I would like to share with you the story of a young boy Chimwemwe Simeon whom we are calling a One-week Passion Kid. Chimwemwe was assessed (the first step of the procedure of admittance to Passion Center as a beneficiary) on Wednesday, 8th August 2018 and he died on Saturday, 11th August 2018. The reason I have decided to share his story is that I would like people to know what God has done in our lives through the death of this boy. Chimwemwe was from Nasedegu Village, T/A Mwambo in Zomba, Malawi and died at the age of 14 due to malnutrition.
Late Chimwemwe Simeon (photo taken 8th August 2018)
Firstly, I would like to share Chimwemwe’s history before we met him on 8th August 2018. We gathered most of the information about his life at his funeral through the conversations that we had with some of his relatives as we did not have enough time to know him better during the time of assessment.
Chimwemwe’s great-grandparents left their home village, Kumisuku, and went to settle in another village called Chiwaula. This was due to accusations of witchcraft among family members. When they moved, they did not keep any form of communication with the relatives they left behind. Many years passed and the family grew bigger and bigger. Unfortunately, death took away all of them and only Chimwemwe and one of his distant cousins, Petulo Nchema were the only ones who survived. The two cousins started to suffer discrimination from other villagers because of the fact that they were not originally from that village. Things got worse so that one of the elders in the village told them their history and helped them to trace their roots until they finally found their home village, Kumisuku. Both Chimwemwe and Petulo moved from Chiwaula, the place they were born and raised, to Namisuku, a place they had never been before with people they had never met before.
Then Petulo, Chimwemwe’s cousin, married and moved to live with his wife in Nasedegu village. He left Chimwemwe behind with the family they have just met. Then, allegedly, Chimwemwe was not being treated well in this village because these were not his close family and there was a bad history between their grandparents’ families. He was chased away, and he started roaming about in the streets in Zomba City for some time.
When he was still in the streets, nobody tried to look for him. Petulo, his cousin, lives an impoverished life with his wife. He told us he knew he would not provide for him so he thought Chimwemwe was better off in the streets than at his house. Time passed and Chimwemwe got ill because of the conditions that homeless people live in the streets. At some point, he ended up at the hospital but without a guardian. The hospital contacted one of the Non-Governmental Organizations in Zomba to help them trace his family and hand him over to them. The organization managed to trace Petulo and Chimwemwe was handed over to him. Petulo was living with Chimwemwe up to when we first met him.
Petulo is married with two children, one who is 4 years old and living with his wife’s sister, and another one who is about two years old and living with them. He and his wife Elida Sakonda are both not working, and they rely on subsistence farming which does not even do well because of lack of capital and enough land. The family resulted into doing piece works in order to survive. Sometimes things get worse that they go days without food and only rely on handouts from other villages.
Petulo and Elida's house where late Chimwemwe was staying
From right to left: Petulo, late Chimwemwe, Elida
Late Chimwemwe's bed
One of the programs at Passion Center for Children is Community Health Network (CHN) which is coordinated by Racheal Kamanga. This program deals with health-related issues in the community and it has Community Health Volunteers (CHV) who work hand in hand with Miss Kamanga to ensure good physical and spiritual health in the community. One of the CHVs, Mr. Saidi, informed Miss Kamanga about Chimwemwe, a boy in one of the villages, who is critically ill and living in extremely impoverished conditions.
After informing the Director, Pastor S. Mateyu, Miss Kamanga notified the Spiritual Department, the Education Department, and the Welfare Department about the need to assess Chimwemwe so that he may be included as a Passion Centre beneficiary. On Wednesday, 8th August 2018, we (me, Miss Kamanga, Ireen Kubwalo the matron, Pastor John Semphere the Spiritual Department Coordinator, and Lumbani Jenda the other Education Intern) went to visit Chimwemwe for an assessment. When we arrived at his home, we were shocked by the degree of poverty in which the boy was living, and mostly, the seriousness of his sickness. At the first glimpse of Chimwemwe, we all thought he might be suffering from HIV-related illnesses because his body showed all the signs of AIDS, but was informed by his cousin that he was HIV-negative. We decided Chimwemwe needed an urgent intervention and recommended that he be taken to the hospital immediately.
Assessment in progress: from Right - Elida, Petulo, late Chimwemwe, Ruth, Miss Kamanga, Ireen, Limbani
When we were coming back from the visitation, we arranged to meet the Director to approve to approve the office to start making arrangements for Chimwemwe to get urgent medical help. When we explained everything and surprisingly it wasn’t hard as we thought it would be, he ordered us to go and get him the following morning to Zomba Central Hospital. He was admitted to Zomba Central Hospital the following day around noon. He was diagnosed with severe malnutrition and was put on nutritional supplements immediately. We provided him and his cousin clothes, shoes, food, groceries and pocket money to help at the hospital.
On Saturday, around 2 am, I received a call from Abusa Semphere that Chimwemwe was no more. We immediately went to the hospital to be with his cousin and console him with our presence and prayers. We made all the necessary arrangements for his funeral, provided a coffin and contributed money to help with funeral arrangements.
It is amazing how Chimwemwe has influenced our lives in the small period that we have known him. Each and every one of us wanted him to get better and become a Passion Kid and make something out of his life. His death was a disappointment to us because we really worked and prayed hard for him to get better. Everyone was sad because him dying was not what we expected and is not what we wanted God to do. I remember telling the support staff ladies how I could not wait for him to get better so that I should have a testimony. It is now that I realize that I was selfish, inconsiderate and insensitive to the will of God in our lives. God wanted us to learn something through Chimwemwe, but through his death, not survival.
Passion Staff praying with late Chimwemwe and his family
One of the things that God has done through the death of this boy is that he has paved way for the expansion of his kingdom in this community. The Bible says in Matthew 7:16 that “Ye shall know them by their fruits” (KJV). What the Passion Center has done the last days of Chimwemwe’s life is amazing. We left everybody talking good things about how shared the love of Christ and hope only found in him. Through this, many people can give their lives to God. There are a lot of NGOs in Malawi helping vulnerable people in the society, but we do the same with love; the love that Jesus Christ commanded us to show to our brethren. This love will bring multitudes of souls to Christ. Our organization was once a shrub in a thick forest, but it is rising above many tall trees.
The Passion Center was even given the honor to lay a wreath on late Chimwemwe’s tomb. This is a sign of respect and honour in Malawian culture. The people who lay a wreath on a tomb are the close relatives of the deceased and other respected figures in the society like the chiefs, priests, and politicians among others.
Passion Center staff (Jodi, Ruth, Ireen, Juliet and John) and CHN CHV's laying a wreath on late Chimwemwe's tomb
God has also shown us how much work is out there for us. There are many more children, in the same conditions that Chimwemwe was, waiting for us to rescue, redeem and restore. We need to cast our net wider and reach out to as many children as we can. This will require praying and working very hard for this to be achieved. This experience has made all of us be even more zealous about helping vulnerable children and their communities. Sometimes we get carried into thinking that we are just fulfilling our job requirements, nor realizing the change that we are making in our communities.
I thought that the One-week Passion Kid story was worth sharing because it may encourage a lot of people the same way it has encouraged us. For all the people in Malawi and beyond who are involved with the Passion Center in any way, please be encouraged with the work that you are doing on behalf of God. God has trusted all of us with this responsibility of joining him in “Rescuing, Redeeming and Restoring orphans and communities long scarred by death, diseases and despair”. There are many lives that God is changing through you. God bless you abundantly.
More kids need to be reached just like Chimwemwe. Your donation helps us reach those in Malawi for Christ.