Impact of Australian donations on the Yao people of Malawi

My name is Amos Siyabu and I greet you in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I head up Far East Broadcasting (FEBC/FEBA) in Malawi, serving and sharing Christ among the Yao people group. Malawi is called ‘The warm heart of Africa’.

The Yao are scattered across Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania. Many Yao converted to Islam in the 18th century and there are about four million of them around the globe. According to the 2018 census, over half Malawian Muslims live in Mangochi and Machinga districts. Muslims comprised 72.6 per cent of the population in Mangochi district and 66.9 per cent of the population in Machinga.

The Malawi Kwacha (MWK), our local currency, was devalued recently, and the resulting 25 per cent inflation here has made life very difficult for families let alone the poorer communities we serve. About 4-5 per cent of the population do not know where they will get their next meal from.

Malawi is considered a ‘low-income’ country according to the World Bank classification. However, contributions from donors in Australia go a lot further in Malawi because people are content when provided with necessities. An Australian dollar delivers about 700 Malawi Kwachas. The daily minimum wage in urban Malawi is between $A3 and $A4 and $A2 for domestic workers.

Despite the challenges, we are grateful to God for the support through FEBC Australia. Your donations enable us to serve our communities. I remember the help FEBC Australia donors gave in the aftermath of cyclone Ana last January. We had two more cyclones a couple of months later – Cyclone Idai and Gombe. Your help made a big difference to communities ravaged by floods.

Today, I ask you to support families and individuals facing difficulties due to violence or calamities. This is particularly the help we provide in the form of rations, hygiene kits and food. We also want to be prepared for future emergencies. An emergency fund in the bank means a lot for disaster preparedness, and it enables us to respond swiftly when disaster strikes

Amina* is a young Yao woman who lives in a safe place now after enduring violence from her family and community because she accepted Jesus as her Lord and Saviour. Moussa*, a young man who accepted Christ, is also persecuted. His family and the village rejected him because he changed his faith. Moussa and a few friends had attended a Christian meeting and were beaten up for doing so. They fled town and hid in the bush for a week before getting help from law enforcement.

There are many stories like Amina and Moussa, and often they will need practical assistance with food, shelter, and emergency supplies. We provide such help motivated by our love for Christ and people … and because it is what is needed most during emergency situations.

Our work with the Yao people has seen a good response, particularly from children and youth between 10 and 35 years, but we also meet the needs of the middle-aged and older population. Our focus areas are Mangochi, Zomba, Machinga, Blantyre, Balaka, Salima, Ntcheu, to name a few. Today there are 13,800 listener groups, and these continue to grow. This also means providing practical support for them during our visits and particularly during emergencies when they need it most.

I hope and pray that you will continue to support our work in Malawi through FEBC Australia.

Have a wonderful Christmas and may God bless you!

Amos Siyabu, FEBC/FEBA Director, Malawi