Kogoya Hope Center
KOGOYA HOPE CENTER
Located in Thyolo District near the Goliat Trading Center, our Kogoya Hope Center serves a ten village area and was Miqlat's first permanent ministry structure in Malawi.
Thyolo is well-known for its vast tea plantations and their beautiful bright green fields, as well as being the home district of two of Malawi’s recent Presidents. Though the colonial tea fields brought wealth to their owners and the Presidents brought new roads and even a new university to the area, Thyolo remains one of the least developed districts of the country and is in particular need of help in the arena of education.
Kogoya Hope Center Field Staff
Kogoya Hope Center celebrated its 10 year anniversary in 2016. Only one of the original staff members remains with us – Janet, one of our cooking crew. However, over its 10 year life span, this Center has unearthed many hidden jewels: Lucius, the gardener turned facilitator and his friend Samson, temporary cook also turned facilitator. And, not to be forgotten is Lemus, the guard turned head chef because when he was asked to temporarily fill in at the kitchen, he proved himself an accomplished chef and capable leader.
Ethel joined the Kogoya family in 2016, after spending years visiting her friend Flossy at Thuchila Hope Center. She laughs as she recounts the story saying, “I never even thought I could work at a place like this. Every time I visited, I loved it. I even loved just what I heard about Miqlat. And then Flossy told me about the vacancy at Kogoya; everything changed. I was so excited!” Ethel believes her most important work at Miqlat is to invite the kids into her own life. As an unmarried working young woman, Ethel represents a path that most of our kids hear about but don’t get to see. She talks with them, tells them her stories and invites their questions. “I also love just being with them,” she adds. “The kids are so interesting! They tell great stories and they know things you might not even know. I teach them but I also learn from them.”
“The kids need… What’s the word? Kuwakumbatila. Cuddling? It’s like a hug, but more. It’s everything that goes into a hug. Kids need that kind of love.”
For Samson, the opportunity to show his heart for God's work came when he was filling in for our Thuchila Head Chef during an illness in 2011. Throughout those 6 months, he “worked with his whole mind as if he was permanent,” so his boss, Director Victor Mkolongo, brought him to Kogoya to interview for an open facilitator position. Despite having a different schooling background than the rest of the facilitators, Samson came on board, quickly establishing a strong rapport with the children and demonstrating he was eagerly willing to learn and grow. “I had never taught before coming to Miqlat,” he says, “so at first I was ashamed to preach, to teach in discipleship. But I have grown. Now it is my favorite thing, and because of my growth at Miqlat I am now the administrator at our church and I even preach if the pastor is not there.” He enjoys playing soccer and games with the kids and especially counseling them from scripture, believing that if you can teach them of God’s love when they are still small, they will grow into great men and women, knowing their foundation.
“The caring of the tree is in the time when the tree is little—a person only grows into a good strong tree if you start to encourage them when they are young.”
In 2011, Lucius joined Kogoya Hope Center as a gardener, but by 2012, the staff around the Center had noticed the laughter bubbling up around him as he creatively involved the kids in his work. Within the year, Lucius had moved from gardener to facilitator where his love for the children could be most fully unleashed. “My desire is to help the children,” he explains, “to stay with them, to help them know Jesus, to know the power of God. I give it my full life, my full mind. They need to know Him, to know God’s mercy.” Lucius also explains that working at the Hope Center has taught him about the incredible impact that the home environment has on a child growing up. However, in spite of the challenges of difficult home-lives, Lucius believes that with the help of God, each of our children can become successful, achieving their dreams and moving forward.
“God gave me hands so I can work hard; then, when I work with the hands he gave me, God can bless the work!”
OUR CHEFS: GEORGE, LEMUS & JANET
The chefs at each Hope Center are responsible for preparing and serving lunch to feed 200 students 6 out of 7 days a week. They use large innovative cooking tools called Rocket Stoves which are able to take a small fuel source of burning wood and heat a very large pot. Now that the school has opened at Kogoya, Lemus, our head cook, along with his stalwart assistants, Grace, and George, are responsible for cooking porridge for breakfast as well. Without these dependable folks, we could not function!
Our Guards: Edward, Francis, Martin and Patrick
Each Hope Center is staffed with a full set of guards responsible for taking care of the property in the evening and dark of night hours while the center is typically empty. Their role is critical in keeping our centers beautiful and safe for the children. As our guards are also members of the local community, they can often be found chatting with the facilitators or playing football with the kids while their presence as stern guarding figures is not needed.