The Art of Living for others!

Lucy Chipeta Malitowe, executive director and trustee of Home of Hope, Mchinji Children’s Home from where David Banda was adopted, attended the fourth annual Women’s Conference on the Art of Living in Bali. She shares what she learnt from her trip, the joys and stresses that come with running a 650 child home and helping Malawians learn of living through their hearts with Every Woman.

 

How did the David Banda adoption open windows of opportunity to Home of Hope, Mchinji Children’s Home?

It has put Home of Hope on the world map. When I am speaking with someone about Home of Hope and they have no idea of where it is and what we do, I simply bring in David Banda and the conversation goes smoothly. It is now easy to get people to help us in financial and material aspects because we are recognised.

How did  you become executive director?

The home was founded by my father Rev. Thomson John Chipeta, the Principal Orphan, and I took over because I share his vision. I live to be a blessing to others around me, through Home of Hope. This was brought on by the fact that I am the only surviving child in a family of seven! I am what I am today by the grace of God, and I would like to show that grace to all others around me. We are the biggest foster home in Malawi, looking after over 650 orphans and vulnerable children from nursery school to tertiary, with an aim of; Raising them to their fullest potential.

What did you do before becoming director of the home?

After completing my accounting and secretarial course I worked for Plate Glass Industry(PGI) formerly Plate Glass Company (1978 – 1980), Admarc  (1980 – 1985), National Bank of Malawi(1986-1996) and Press Agriculture Limited(PAL) from 1997 till early 1998 when I had a very strong vision to resign my work and went to support my parents on the Orphan Ministry Project they started upon their request. With my current work, I have also gone through Early Child Development courses.

What academic qualifications do you hold?

 The first academic qualification is the kindness my parents drummed into me since I was young, as you know parents are the first teachers of every child. I did my primary education at Dzenza Girls Primary School in Lilongwe in the late 1960s, then went to Henry Henderson Institute(HHI) Secondary School in Blantyre in the mid 1970s and underwent an Accounting and Secretarial Course in Zimbabwe in late 1970s. During this time my parents were ministering in Zimbabwe but they sent us back home for studies so we could maintain our Malawian tradition.

What was growing up as a reverend’s daughter like for you?

A very great blessing period.

How would you explain the fact that sometimes; children of religious leaders such as pastors are the ones that rebel the most?

This is the question I was expecting to be asked at first apart from the David one. I think it boils down to the fact that a pastor is a lamp on the lampstand. Other parents might have children that are more troublesome than those of the pastor, but the pastor’s children are the centre of attention, simply for the purpose of the devil’s ministry. If a devil uses, let’s say a child of a soldier or an accountant, the theory won’t work the same as of the pastor’s child. Remember none of the creatures in this universe is cleverer than a devil. So let’s not use the downfalls of the pastor’s children as a failure, we won’t win the battle to defeat the devil.

How many children do you have?

I have five biological children, three boys and two girls, my first born son is a soldier in the Malawi Army and last born son is a soldier in the British Army in Queens Guard!

What values have you passed on to them?

Being kind to others as what my parents trained me since I was young. This proves the philosophy: What Goes Around Comes Around.  If you are kind to others, others too will be kind to you, in such way life goes in your favour.

Is it hard running the home and a family of your own?

Not really because even when we were young, we lived in an extended family since my parents wanted to help our relations. In a way, this gave me a sense of responsibility and I learnt to take care of many others from a young age. I also have a very supportive husband, Harold, who encourages me when I am weary. The interesting thing is; if you visit my home, Home of Hope, you won’t easily recognise my biological children when they are all around. I treat them equally including 650 orphans and vulnerable children. It is the most interesting job I have ever had in my life because I can see the results immediately; the gratitude and love on the children’s faces is enough to make me love my job.

What are some of the challenges you face in running the home?

The fact that orphanages are not really given government’s consideration so they have to fight their own battles. Apart from this, raising  children from different backgrounds is sometimes difficult because Home of Hope is a Christian Home.

You recently attended an Art of Living Conference in Bali?

The Art of Living is an international NGO, founded by H.H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar known as Guruji (Master) and with a special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations. The statutory goal of Art of Living is to create a stress-free and violence-free society. The basis for a stress-free society is the peaceful individual. Art of Living provides humanitarian projects at the societal level and courses for the individual. I attended the 4th International Women Conference in Bali. It is an island off the coast of Indonesia. It was a two day intensive spiritual life enhancing programme that took place on March 27 and 28 this year. The conference was meant to help every woman realise her true potential, understand the world she lives in and contribute to that world harmoniously. This was achieved through this year’s theme; Waves of Beauty.  Beauty does not standstill but comes to us in waves. Each wave is unique and more beautiful than the previous one. So is every woman. True transformation takes place with harmony of the body, mind and soul. This conference was inaugurated by State Minister of Women Empowerment and Children Protection of Indonesia.  We also carried out tree planting near the bank of the Sea. Many speakers from different countries shared their experiences and success.

How were you chosen to represent Malawi?

The organisers of the event invited people to propose deserving participants from Africa.  Mr. Pramod Kalaria, Sejal Kalaria, the entire family and other people put forward my name. I was lucky to be chosen, perhaps it is because of the noble work that I am doing at Home of Hope, Mchinji Children’s Home. I really don’t know how because it all happened so fast! All I can say is; when God says yes, nobody can say no.    

Did the conference make any difference in your personal and professional life?

It helped me understand that we are all the same irrespective of where we come from or live. We all encounter similar challenges and hence we should think with our heart sometimes and let our feelings guide us through life. Not everything has to have a logical explanation, if that makes any sense. For instance, I now know how to take things to the heart not mind. When I arrived home with an excitement of sharing my life experience in Bali, Indonesia, especially the life of Guruji, I managed to read the gloomy look on my husband’s face and I put a brake on my excitement. He then told me that he lent our personal car to a close friend on her request to attend a family funeral and that she bashed the bonnet. Instead of worrying and complaining, I took it as an accident. I remembered Guruji telling us not to live a life of worries or complaints.   

Will you apply some of the things you learnt to ordinary Malawians?

A lot of people would benefit from such knowledge and I would like to change my behaviour and life to channel what I have learnt so that I can lead by example to my family, friends, workmates and everyone I come into contact with. For example, participants in each Art of Living meeting or seminar plant trees on the last day. If we adopted this, Malawi would be even more beautiful than it is now.

Was there anyone that influenced you the most during this conference?

Guruji, of course, he is so humble and a great man. He reminded me of my father (Rev. T.J. Chipeta).  I also learnt a lot from the participants. It was wonderful to be there in the midst of such high energy and euphoria where women from all walks of life on the globe gathered to share, celebrate, encourage, inspire and elevate mankind.

What did you learn from the interaction with other women?

I learnt how powerful women are. The Almighty God gave women a lot of virtues. He has given them the highest mission on the planet, to give life. There is no great man without a great mother.

What is your general perspective about Malawian life today?

Stress is wearing us out. We spend too much time concentrating on our minds instead of our hearts. We should all strive to deal with stress, unlock our fullest potential and enhance all aspects of life. I feel Art of Living can help us do this. It is not a religious organisation but open to everyone. As Guruji said, “We identify ourselves as somebody – I belong to this religion, this culture, this tradition, but we forget the basic identity that we are human beings. When that stands first and foremost, all other identities follow behind that. Then we can achieve what we are really looking for.”

Have you made any mistakes in your life that you have lived to regret? What are they?

A worst thing in life is to regret. I don’t want to regret anything in my lifetime as all my mistakes have been stepping stones to my success in the sense of making me courageous, experienced and strong. In short I am what I am by the grace of God; 1 Corinthians 15:10.

How would you like to grow Home of Hope?

God has greater plans for the home than I have, so I don’t want to limit Him by putting forth my own dreams. Since we opened in  February, 1998 we have been growing wonderfully and I believe this shall continue.

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