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Keep up with the latest updates from our Africa Learning Team

Why The Africa Learning Team?

Our 2016 trip is based around four main objectives

Relationships

We seek to build bridges of understanding and respect between cultures in ways that improve cross-boundary connections. We want to laugh, cry and share with our African brothers and sisters.

Education & Awareness

We aim to learn about the economic, social and religious context of the southern Africa region and provide space and tools for mutual learning and sharing about faith in the midst of human need and suffering.

Transformation

We strive to foster personal and systematic change as a way to create a more just, humane, sustainable, peaceful, and hopeful world.

Advocacy

We want to return from this trip ready to share what we have learned and experienced in order to deepen our community’s understanding of global issues. Our goal is to become catalysts and advocates for moving The Meeting House family to further commitment and action.

Our Blog

Only the best quality makes it onto our blog! Follow our adventures through Africa and read about everything we are doing!

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Would you dance at your bank?

Youth ALT Savings & Loans

Youth ALT Savings & Loans

Today we had the opportunity to observe the Savings & Loans program that World Vision has implemented in the Mposa community. As I plan to attend university in the fall for Commerce, I was intrigued and very excited to learn about this project. I expected to sit in an informational presentation, but what we saw was so much better. We drove about an hour out, through many fields, to a woman’s house. Out front, there was a group of approximately 40 women and children gathered in a circle, singing. Our translator explained to us that the women were in the middle of their weekly meeting. Their songs translated into phrases such as, “saving is good” and “buying shares is good”. We learned that their meeting was actually the process of the women purchasing shares in the bank. They went around the circle, and as each woman got up to buy a share, the group would continue to sing. As each woman handed over their money, the woman who owned the house, the Money Counter, announced how many shares the woman purchased in the bank. A cheer erupted with each announcement, and as each woman turned to sit down once again, the songs would continue. The immense joy of each individual was so early seen.

When I think about buying shares back home, and even conducting regular banking, it can be a very impersonal act. With the use of online banking and mobile apps, one could complete all their banking without speaking to a single person. Business transactions are simply that, business. Here in Mposa, through the Savings & Loans program, banking becomes a celebration for the whole community. It was beautiful to see each woman partake in the meeting and be celebrated for what they offered, whether it be $5 or $15.

Following the meeting, several of the women shared about how the program has helped them. The implementation of the program has eliminated many of their challenges. Before, purchasing basic household items was a problem. With the program, the women have been able to purchase items such as mattresses for their families, food and clothing for their children. They have also been able to buy bicycles so that their children can attend school and a sewing machine to make their own clothing. They were able to start their own businesses such as selling tomatoes, donuts and fish. We learned that these Savings & Loans groups are present in many of the communities, but often are separated into men and women, because the men tend to dominate mixed meetings. This further empowers the women as they are in control of their financial and business decisions.

The pure joy and transformation that I saw and heard about in these women’s lives was so inspiring. At the end, the Money Counter announced the total amount and the number of shares purchased. Once again, the group broke out in song and dance, and even included us in their celebrations.

As we continue to travel to the many villages in Malawi, and meet so many people, I am continually overwhelmed by the sense of community here. These women have taken something as simple as banking and have strengthened their community both relationally and economically. The contrast between our cultures amazes me, and I hope that when I return to Canada, I can begin to model my interactions in my community like those of the people of Malawi.

-Rachel White

July 6, 2016

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Our Team

Meet our 2016 Africa Learning Team: Youth Edition

Cory

Cory Bell

Hey! I’m Cory – the Sr. High Youth Pastor in Oakville and I’m counting down the days to Malawi! I’m most excited to see our youth live alongside our Malawian friends and learn …
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Melissa

Melissa Ytsma

Hey all!  My name’s Melissa and I’ve been connected with the Meeting House for 10 years; 6.5 years as a podrishioner, 2 years in Newmarket, and 1.5 years in Richmond Hill where I have the privile…
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Rachel

Rachel White

I’m Rachel, I’m in grade 12, and I’ve been attending the Meeting House Oakville site for 9 years. This is my first time travelling across the globe, and I’m very excited to lea…
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Adam

Adam VanEgdom

Hey, I’m Adam VanEgdom!  I’m currently in grade 11, and attending the West Hamilton site; a place I’ve been able to call home for 7 years. I’m praying that Malawi is able to o…
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Jared

Jared Jones

Hi, my name is Jared Jones. I am in grade 12 and have been attending the Meeting House in Parry Sound for seven years. I volunteer at our site in our music and kidmax programs and am super pumped for …
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Nicola

Nicola George

My name is Nicola and I’m a grade 11 student attending The Meeting House in Parry Sound.  I am super excited to visit Malawi, to walk in the shoes of people that live there, and to carry all their …
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Isaac-new-glow

Isaac van der Kooi

Hi!  My name is Isaac and I have been attending the Newmarket site for 4 and a half years. I am super excited to be going on this trip and to meet my World Vision sponsor child.  I’m thrilled for …
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Lydia

Lydia Thrall

My name is Lydia, I’m a grade 12 student at the Oakville site and have been attending for 3 years. I could not be more excited for this opportunity to go to Malawi. I’m especially excited …
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