There are serious economic barriers to be overcome in the communities where we work, so food and livelihood security is integral to our ministry. To get to the root of many of these issues it is important to address issues of the heart, so there is a strong spiritual component to our development efforts.  We see our role at Kindle as empowering people to make better lives for themselves and their entire community.

Some of the ways we partner with the community in spiritual and economic development include:

Youth Groups

Youth Group PlayingKindle’s Youth Group ministry currently operates in 26 villages. At first, local church leaders were opposed to the youth groups, fearing that the children would be pulled away from their home churches to start attending new “Kindle” churches. What they have found, however, is that as the children became involved in these youth groups, they also became more involved in their home churches. Today, these youth are spending their free time singing in church choirs and attending church functions. BibleIt has even reached the point that many of them have started to go to “coming of age” retreats taught by church deacons and deaconesses, where they can learn to become men and women of God, instead of going to local traditional religion ceremonies where they are taught about manhood and womanhood in ways that typically involve sexual abuse. The youth group meetings incorporate sports and games, giving the children a chance to be a kid again—not to have to worry about food, shelter or water, but a chance to run around with friends trying to score the next goal. They provide respite for children in difficult circumstances.

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Family Life Groups

Performing a skit about caring for orphans in the home
Performing a skit about caring for orphans in the home

Family structures in this community are not very strong, and although there are a few men involved, it is the women who have become the driving force of this ministry. In several villages, Kindle staff and volunteers meet with women each week for Bible teaching and discussion on a wide variety of social issues that are part of their daily lives- nurturing children, agriculture, witchcraft, dealing with or living with HIV/AIDS, and much more. Choirs and dramas are a great avenue for getting the message across. While it is difficult to measure spiritual growth in tangible ways, we are in many ways seeing people’s lives transformed.

Blackboards for adult literacy training
Blackboards for adult literacy training

In many of these groups, people are seeing needs in the villages and finding ways to meet those needs. Village Savings and Loans have been started in several family life groups as a way of empowering these groups economically. Some also asked for training in adult literacy and groups in five villages are now teaching their neighbors to read. Others have started community-based childcare centres. Concern for the environment has also led one of the groups to organize a tree planting day, and in some groups women are learning practical skills such as hand-sewing and using sewing machines.

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Village Savings & Loans

Nanjoka VSLIn years past, just before the rainy season we would start to receive requests from members of family life groups. Everybody wanted a loan for fertilizer, and then a few months later another loan for pesticides. But all of those requests stopped just a few months after we introduced Village Savings & Loans (VSL’s) to the family life groups. A VSL is basically a system to manage revolving loans within a tight-knit community. Each week the group meets and all of the members contribute to a “pool.” Then they go around the group requesting loans until the money in the pool is gone, and the money is paid back with interest the following month. This gives people capital to invest in small-scale business throughout the year. At the end of the year, all of the interest is divided up among the group members. The group shown in this photo managed to save the equivalent of nearly $100 each over the course of one year. Not bad in a country where most of the population lives on less than $1 per day!

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“Kolezani” Family Support

KolezaniWe have a special place in our hearts for families that are overloaded with orphans. Some of these families are “orphan-headed households” families where both parents have died and the older siblings are looking after the younger. Others are homes where the parents have died and the children are cared for by aging grandparents. For families in these extreme situations, we have developed a program called “Kolezani”, which in the local language means “kindle a fire.” It is based on the vision of fanning into flame the little bit we have to make it burn brightly! For each of these families an individualized five-year plan is created, usually involving farm inputs and training that will help the family to be able to better care for itself. Most families receive fertilizer, seeds, and livestock at various times in the five years, with a gradual weaning from Kindle support as they save money to purchase items for themselves.

BitianaBitiana Billy, widow and mother of 6 children, is the head of one of our Kolezani families. Losing her husband forced her to spend much of her time doing odd jobs for food. But now her story is different, thanks to support provided through Kindle. After two years as a “Kolezani family,” they were growing enough food to feed the family. In their fourth year they stored 1000 kg of maize at our food bank for the family and also to use to pay others to work in their fields. By the fifth year, Bitiana earned enough by selling cotton to pay school fees for her children, buy seed and fertilizer, and build the village’s first brick-walled house with an iron sheet roof. The Kolezani Program has great potential for making an impact on the community, one family at a time.

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Treadle Pump Irrigation

Treadle pumpIn the last two years, Kindle has helped to start 13 treadle pump irrigation clubs. A small investment of capital, only about $100, is enough to start one of these clubs that will benefit approximately 10 families. Club members to harvest crops two or possibly three times per year, instead of once per year during the rainy season. Our food security coordinator has worked hard at finding people who are able to work together, trust each other, avoid jealousy, and try new ways of thinking about and using the resources available to them. When they identify such a group, they encourage them to start a club together and Kindle helps to provide starting funds for a treadle pump, seeds, and fertilizer. It is delightful to see the people in the community working together to solve problems and do something that is of mutual benefit. Especially in these past two years when the rains have been poor, people are able to work during the dry season, harvesting enough to provide for their family during the “hungry season” that normally comes in the months before the normal harvest.

Fence separating irrigated plot from unirrigated land
Fence separating irrigated plot from unirrigated land

In 2014 there was a field trip to a farming cooperative in a neighboring district, and the leaders of the treadle pump irrigation clubs are now excited about forming their own cooperative. They hope to coordinate efforts to grow crops that are in high demand and maximize the amount of their harvest that gets to market.

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Solar Irrigation

WaterAtMayambo1Kindle also supports three larger irrigation projects, where we have drilled deep boreholes and installed a solar pump, and the community provides the field and helps to build a pump house and irrigation tank. These irrigation facilities are much more expensive than treadle pumps, but can benefit communities that are far away from a river or dam. They also provide a clean water source to the village. While we continue to support the solar irrigation clubs that are already in existence, we are not seeking to start any more of these clubs because of the high cost to purchase and maintain the solar equipment.

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Compost piles "cooking" under plastic sheets
Compost piles “cooking” under plastic sheets

Although most farmers don’t do the calculations, it is often cheaper to buy maize during the harvest season (about $0.15 per kg) than it is to buy seeds and fertilizer, unless you are among the fortunate few who receive government-subsidized fertilizer. Composting changes this, making farming profitable for a subsistence farmer. Yohane, Kindle’s food security coordinator, has taught dozens of families how to combine a small amount of commercial fertilizer with items that are normally discarded, like goat droppings and the shells of maize seeds, to create compost that is just as effective as straight fertilizer.

SankhulaniWithMaizeWe sat with Sankhulani, one man who tried composting, to evaluate the return on investment. Sankulani would normally have used two bags of fertilizer, about $85 worth, on his field but instead he spent $13 and harvested about 600 kg of maize (worth about $95). So by using composting, his profit went from $10 to $82!

These composting techniques were demonstrated at an agricultural field day, and one district office praised Yohane for his work: “This could be the end of the government’s Fertilizer Subsidy Programme!”

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Environment: Tree parenting project

Kindle`s approach to climate change mitigation is through a tree parenting concept. In this approach, the communities are encouraged to plant trees and encouraged to take care of their trees just as they do with their own babies. Kindle does not pay these community members for planting trees but rather enroll them into a tree parenting competition where the village with the most survival rate gets an award (a community project support of their choice limited by the competition`s prize money).This means people do not get cash but rather get a support to a particular project of their choice i.e roofing their community childcare center or fixing their broken borehole etc. The first time this project was launched, a total of 6 villages took part and the second year saw 25 villages taking part while the third year saw 51 villages taking part with the total number of trees planted increasing from way around 20,000 to above 100,000 trees with an average survival rate of 85%. The villages are encouraged to plant the A cassia trees which matures quickly around 4-5 years so that they can use their forests either to get some roofing materials for their households or start a bee keeping business which will not only help them protect their trees (bees guard the trees) but also help them generate income for their communities.

First year in 2016 only 6 villages participated in this program, these villages are: Kamphinda, Koso, Elias, Chimbamba, Chiluwe, and Sadzu Phuzi.

The target was to plant 50000 trees but after doing first counting of survived tress below were the results.

  1. Kamphinda 4449
  2. Koso 3909
  3. Elias 2505
  4. Chimbamba 1637
  5. Chiluwe 1661
  6. Sadzu Phuzi 484

These below are second counting findings

                                    # of trees planted         Survival rate

  1. Kamphinda 3827                                           = 86%
    1. Koso 1708                                             = 43%
  2. Elias 1780                                                       = 71%
  3. Chimbamba 1103                                           = 67%
  4. Chiluwe 1518                                                  = 91%
  5. Sadzu Phuzi            36                                     = 7 %


Prize money predictions to the three winners with survival rate of  above 70%.

  • First winner K 300,000
  • Second winner K 200, 000
  • Third winner K 100,000


In this second year 25 villages participated in the program.

The target was to plant 80, 000 trees but   doing first and second counting of survived trees, these were the results

Village Name

First counting

Second counting

Percentages of surviving trees





Mkhomo 1








Mkhomo 2
















Kanthu Mmako
















Kanzimbe  2












Waya  1
















Prize money projections to the winners according to their categories

First Category

  1. Waya 1 K450,000   with 94%
  2. Mtolo K 300, 000 with 82%

Second category

  1. Mtete K250, 000  with 93%
  2. Mndolo K 200, 000  with 89%
  3. Mkhomolo 1 K 200, 000 with 87%
  4. Kamchepera K 200, 000 with 83%
  5. Mose K  100, 000  with  79%
  6. Mkhomo 2 K   100,000  with 75%
  7. Cheratono K 100,000  with 74%
  8. Elias K 100,000 with 71%

These above findings are only for the village woodlots excluding those that have been planted in their houses and gardens at individual level. First year findings shows that over 14644 trees planted in village woodlots and 9972 trees survived. In second year findings shows over 29879 trees planted in village woodlots and over 26112 trees survived. In the year 2018 a total of 51 villages took part in the afforestation program. The afforestation program competition enables the villages to choose a community project of their choice with the prize money. No cash is given to these winners but a community project of their choice which is very unique in malawi. With increased funding We can be able to scale up to the entire nation to reach up to 2 million + people and more villages.

Supporting Church Leaders

Spiritual Focus HeaderWe provide many types of support to local churches, and especially to church leaders. Most people don’t have access to Bibles, so we have started to sell Bibles with no mark-up, allowing people access to the Word of God at low cost. We also allow interdenominational groups to use the meeting hall in Tiwale Centre at no cost, allowing pastors and church leaders to come together to pray and encourage one another. We also hold workshops and seminars for church and community leaders. In a land full of spiritual warfare and traditions that are far from healthy, we need leadership and stability through God’s Word.

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