DZALEKA Refugee Camp

Helping people survive and recover from forced displacement

MinistriesopportunitiesCHURCH CONSTRUCTIONBIBLESMedical

Our Mission

We are helping people survive and recover from forced displacement in Malawi. We do this in partnership with refugee churches in Dzaleka refugee camp and with There Is Hope, a Malawian NGO working in the refugee and host community.

The refugee churches in Dzaleka offer supportive, live-giving community to the refugee population in the camp. They invest in the emotional well-being of all refugees and provide opportunities for all refugees to learn new capacities, thereby fostering hope and dignity for those who have been forcibly displaced.

We break the isolation of our displaced brothers and sisters through regular visits to the camp, and we work to connect them with the church-at-large in ways that help them accomplish their mission.

Refugee church activities in Dzaleka include counseling and trauma care, reconciliation and peace-building initiatives, pre-school and primary school initiatives, income generation projects, language and other skill-building courses, as well as caring for orphans, widows, single mothers, and the disabled in the camp and surrounding host community.

Ministry Context

Located in the highlands an hour away from the capital city of Lilongwe, Dzaleka refugee camp offers shelter to more than 48,000 forcibly displaced women, children and men.

Dzaleka had been a political prison before it was transformed into a refugee camp in response to a massive influx of refugees from Africa's Great Lakes region in 1994. Primary countries of origin represented in the camp include D.R. Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia.

The camp is situated within the hills of the Dowa District of Malawi, and a host community of about 50,000 people who survive largely based-on subsistence farming. This host community has been historically underdeveloped and often faces intense challenges due to lack of farming inputs, volatile crop markets, and poor rains. Including the host community in all projects is a key consideration in our work.

Related Information: IAFR Dzaleka Blog | BBC Country Profile | UNHCR

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Needs & Opportunities

  • Long-term service opportunities
  • Needed: No long term opportunities at this time
  • Short-term service opportunities
  • Joining IAFR missionaries on Dzaleka visits is possible

Inquire about service opportunities below.

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Pastoral Care

IAFR's Tim Barnes in Dzaleka

IAFR is committed to showing up at least twice a year in Dzaleka Refugee Camp to spend time with our partner agency, There Is Hope, and with our refugee church friends.

Visits are about more than getting things done and reporting on projects. We value this time together as a critical part of our ongoing friendship and partnership. We encourage one another as individuals, professionals, and spiritual leaders. Worshiping and celebrating together is what unite us in this work.

Refugee Church Construction

A church in need of a building in Dzaleka

Refugee churches play a unique and often undervalued role in helping people survive and recover from forced displacement.

Churches in Dzaleka are community centers where people come for healing, hope, and training on a daily basis. They foster refugee art and music, they offer support for widows and orphans, they help develop leaders, and they bring hope and life-giving faith to members.

But without safe, easily accessible space they are limited in what they can do.

This is why IAFR includes our refugee church partners in Dzaleka among the beneficiaries of our Refugee Church Construction project.

Learn how you can partner in this venture below.

Bibles for Refugees

Refugee pastors with their new Bibles

Dzaleka Refugee Camp and the surrounding community is home to many local churches who are present daily in their community helping people navigate immense challenges in life.

Local church leaders continue to tell us of the need for Bibles in the community, so people can access the life-giving hope that comes from reading the Bible on a daily basis.

That is why IAFR includes our refugee church partners in Dzaleka among the beneficiaries of our Bibles for Refugees project.

We partner with organisations in East Africa to find Bibles in the languages needed. Local church leadership teams distribute the Scriptures.

You can gift a Bible to a person in a refugee camp for just $16.

Trauma Care Training

Trauma care training in Dzaleka

It is nothing short of traumatic to be forced to flee your home and country. Trauma is often compounded while living in refugee camps, vulnerable and uprooted.

Refugee pastors and community leaders need understanding and tools to care for those within their communities that suffer from unresolved trauma.

Together with SIL and There Is Hope, we are using the Healing the Wounds of Trauma curriculum to help church and community leaders facilitate small groups where healing from unresolved trauma can happen.

Ebenezer Academy

Helping prepare a classroom in Dzaleka

The rapid growth of Dzaleka Refugee Camp over the past decade has put strains on the ability to provide elementary education in the camp. In 2021, Jesuit Refugee Services and UNHCR estimated that only 58% of the elementary aged children were able to attend school due lack of learning space available. Those responsible for education have identified this as one of the biggest challenges they face and have asked for assistance in finding solutions.

IAFR is partnering with refugee churches in Dzaleka to help turn their buildings into elementary schools during the week. Among other initiatives, we've assisted with classroom construction and the provision of learning materials.

We are also partnering with a group of refugee and host community educators to build a new set of classrooms that will provide more space from preschool learning all the way through high school. You can learn more about this exciting new project called Ebenezer Academy by clicking the link below.

Medical Assistance

Kids looking up in Dzaleka camp

The Malawi Ministry of Health operates a health clinic in Dzaleka that serves the refugee population as well as the surrounding host community – more than 80,000 people in total.

One of their identified challenges is having enough of the needed medications on hand to serve the community, that includes health challenges unique to the refugee camp setting.

We are collaborating with IAFR Canada, Health Partners International Canada (IHPC), There Is Hope (Malawi), the Malawian government and UNHCR to get much needed pharmaceuticals to support the health clinic in Dzaleka.

IAFR includes our refugee church partners in Dzaleka among the beneficiaries of our Refugee Medical Assistance project fund. Learn how you can partner in this venture below.

Refugee Scholarships

Scholarship recipients in Dzaleka

The UN reports that only 1% of refugee youth go to college/University, compared to 36% of youth globally. This is not because refugees do not want to go to school or because they are not qualified.

The primary barriers they face are cost and access.

We are sponsoring 6 students from the refugee and host community through 4 years of university in Malawi in partnership with There Is Hope.

Learn how you can partner with us in this venture below.

Vocational Training

Learning a vocation in Dzaleka

In partnership with There Is Hope Malawi, IAFR has invested in vocational training opportunities for refugees and people from the host community near Dzaleka Refugee Camp.

Today we are supporting classes in carpentry, masonry, welding, plumbing, and tailoring as these career fields have been identified as high need in the local and national economy.

Learn how you can partnerwith us in this venture below.

Small Scale Business Investment

Small business startup in Dzaleka

IAFR supports business initiatives in and around Dzaleka Refugee Camp as a means to strengthen the self-sufficiency of both refugees and Malawians in the host community.

These business investments are part of a greater strategy of our partner, There Is Hope, to enhance food security and influence job creation in sustainable ways.

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