Helping people survive and recover from forced displacement

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.

Check out our IAFR Malawi Blog dedicated to our ministry in Malawi!

Ministry Context

Located in the highlands an hour away from the capital city of Lilongwe, Dzaleka refugee camp offers shelter to around 34,000 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 40,000 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.

More Information: IAFR Malawi Blog | BBC Country Profile | UNHCR | There Is Hope Malawi

Projects and Programs in Dzaleka

Our ongoing work in Dzaleka is committed to listening to the voice of our local partners and getting behind their solutions to the most pressing needs in their community. This includes investing in education opportunities, capacity building programs, and the work of local churches to create supportive community.

Here are some examples of how we partner together with local churches and organizations to get behind their vision and activities in support of the refugee and host community in Malawi.

Refugee Scholarships

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 partnering with There Is Hope to sponsor refugees and host community youth to go to University in Malawi. In 2017 and 2018 we have supported 12 students each year in their studies.

Refugee Church Construction

Refugee churches play a unique and 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 is committed to helping support refugee church construction in Dzaleka Camp.

Bibles for Refugees

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. As we check in with the leaders of these churches during our annual visits, they continue to tell us of the need for Bibles for families in the community, so people can access the life-giving hope that comes from reading the Bible on a daily basis.

We partner with local Bible organizations in East Africa to find Bibles in the languages needed, and then help get them to the churches in and around Dzaleka to be distributed by the church leadership teams. You can gift a Bible to a person in a refugee camp for just $10.

Vocational Training

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

In 2017 we supported the launch of an Advanced Carpentry training class, and we are excited to say the first class started with 12 students learning advanced skills in this field.

Small Scale Business Investment

IAFR supports business initiatives in and around Dzaleka Refugee Camp as a means to support 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.

Next Steps

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Ministry Resources

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