HDI Congressional Staff Delegation to Malawi

Staffers with ACC kids

HDI organized a Congressional Staff Delegation to the Republic of Malawi February 17-24, 2017.  The focus of the delegation was to observe the work of the U.S. based charity, Amitofo Care Center https://www.amitofocarecenter.org/  in providing aid to orphans in Africa.  ACC has orphanages throughout southern Africa with the facility in Malawi being the first.

The delegation was composed of:

  1. Ms. LaVerne Alexander, Chief of Staff, Rep. Donald M. Payne Jr. (D-NJ)
  2. Mr. Tim Hysom, Chief of Staff, Rep. Alan S. Lowenthal (D-CA)
  3. Ms. Sophia Lafargue, Chief of Staff, Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY)
  4. Mr. Nathan Bennett, Legislative Director, Rep. André Carson (D-IN)
  5. Mr. Reginald Babin, Legislative Director, Office of the CBC Chair (Rep. Cedric L. Richmond)
  6. Ms. Melanie A. Steele, Legislative Counsel, Senator James E. Risch (R-ID)
  7. Mr. Omair Mirza, Legislative Assistant, Office of the CBC 1st Vice Chair (Rep. André Carson)
  8. Ms. Sayanna Molina, Foreign Affairs Legislative Assistant, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ)
  9. Rev. Hong (Ms. Miaohong Liu), Amitofo Charity Center
  10. Mr. Steve Ginther, Program Director, Humpty Dumpty Institute
  11. Ms. Morgan DeNicola, Humpty Dumpty Institute

The program began on February 14 with a visit is to a future site of second ACC orphanage center in Malawi. The purpose of the visit was to show the participants the scope of work, including materials and technology used to create ACC centers. Importance of geographical location and access to resources such as drinking water was discussed. A guided tour of the surrounding rural areas was given to present the staffers with overview of daily life of average Malawian, to show available infrastructure and give historical as well as cultural context to understand challenges and progress in perspective. Participants also witnessed a ACC food aid donation distribution to village close to ACC site and received a welcome message from the Chimutu Village Leader.

During the course of the day the delegation also met with officials of the  Ministry of Education, Science and Technology of Malawi to discuss access to education from pre-school to college and government programs for orphans.  The delegation also met with senior officials of the Ministry of Health of Malawi for a presentation on health risks affecting children as well as access to healthcare. and related issues.

On February 19 and February 20 there were meetings with the Deputy Minister of Disaster and Relief Management, Dyce Nkhoma to review Malawi’s preparation for natural disasters and ability to access to relief and resources.  There was a discussion of the devastating effects of flooding in 2015-2016 caused by La Nina phenomenon.  Meetings continued with officials at UNICEF and  at the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare of Malawi.  The delegation asked questions about access to social programs, status of orphans in Malawi social structure, resources for children’s programs, and safeguards instituted on the distribution of U.S. assistance funds.

On February 21, U.S. Ambassador Virginia E. Palmer https://mw.usembassy.gov/ briefed the delegation and gave an overview of U.S. priorities in Malawi and the region, children’s rights, U.S. foreign aid to Malawi and work of USAID. Environment and climate agenda, PEPFAR and the challenges of people living with HIV/AIDS in Malawi were also discussed.

The final days of the program centered on the actual work of ACC, the history of Blantyre orphanage, mission, and challenges and rewards.  The Staffers had the opportunity to interact with Malawi youth and orphans and share their personal stories.  ACC students and staff reflected on their future plans and possibilities. Students discussed what their aspirations are after graduating. ACC staff discussed the options which the students have. Congressional Staff were be able to compare the options to those they experienced in their career progression and make suggestions

Steve Ginther, Melanie Steele, Sayanna Molina, Tim Hysom and Morgan DeNicola discuss village needs with Ven, Hui Li
Tim Hysom speaking to Chitemu Village
Food aid distribution
UNICEF meeting
Welcome to ACC Blantyre