When torments of loss threaten to swallow you whole, there seems to be no open door for escape.
Mercy Kasito, 25, experienced agony at the loss of her best friend to cancer, Ferai, two years ago.
She says the death of Ferai really ate her up. She stayed up late in the night, tossing and turning in her sleep- unsure, failing to cope with the death of the 21-year-old.
To deal with grief, Mercy founded Mended Hearts on January 30 2018, the day Ferai was born.
At this years’ 2018 Global Leadership Summit, she won the Grander Vision Honorary Award for Mended Hearts, attracting a K 50 000 cheque.
Explaining her journey she says:
“I needed someone to be there for me, to talk things out and listen to me. Mended Hearts is the platform where I help and share with others.”
Since Mended Hearts, Mercy has helped several groups, including suicidal youths, the divorced, orphans, the abused, those who have lost their loved ones and those in troubled marriages to deal with their situations.
Her organisation rose from a Youth Global Leadership summit she attended through the Blantyre Baptist Church.
Whilst there, she encountered how Sheryl Sandberg- a speaker and author wrote of her sorrow and overcame her grief.
“She walked us through a video of how she lost her husband. I read Option B, her book which explained her struggle. I was motivated,” says Mercy.
As part of Mended Hearts, Mercy founded Girl Code Movement which has 104 members split in groups comprising Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu, Chitipa and Thyolo district girls.
She has only met 40 girls and interacts with the rest online. Mercy does not work alone, but with leaders in every district.
In the movement, a group of women meet for Bible study to encourage each other to live Godly lives.
It is also a platform where girls help each other emotionally as well as offering advice on life’s hurdles placed on their paths of daily living as well as personal success.
Tamanda Zidana from Blantyre says the Girl Code Movement has impacted her life greatly as she lives a life of total dependence on God.
She says she has learnt that God should direct one’s plans and the need to be a hard worker.
“We have graduates in our groups and we talk about success in education and at work,” says Tamanda
Working with four counsellors has helped sustain Mended Hearts in the quest to reach out to every group thus far.
“Let’s face it. I am not married, never have been. We had to involve people that have been there, know what marriage feels like,” she adds.
Needless to say, her organisation reaches out to married people as well, hence the work of counsellors.
Showing the depth of Mended Hearts, she picks a few narratives from an array of their work.
“We have rescued three people who almost committed suicide. There is a girl, who was at the end of her life, but is now a nurse.
“I met another girl on the streets, Lizzie (not real name). She came from Lilongwe after running away from her home. We rescued her,” says Mercy.
An interview, Lizzie, narrates her story: “My parents divorced in 2015. They moved out of the house and I remained with my three sisters. My life took a hard turn.
“I became their maid. I washed my sisters’ clothes to eat and woke up every 4:30 am to do chores just to eat. Whenever I got sick, my sisters had nothing to do with me. Whatever went wrong would be my fault,” she says.
Lizzie adds that she never used running water from the tap, but from dirty ponds to wash her clothes for allegedly not contributing towards the water bill.
With tears in her eyes, she says: “My sister poured hot water on my back because of a television remote. I was taken to the hospital and from there, I never returned home. I tried three times to commit suicide, but failed.”
The streets and her friends were the only solution she had. She became a heavy alcohol drinker and later fell pregnant.
“I never knew there was God until Mercy came into my life. She became my mother and Mended Hearts my family,” says Lizzie.
Adding that before then- hated by her sisters- she considered herself alone, unloved and uncared for.
Mercy said talking to Lizzie is what stood out for her because she had to walk her through healing.
She is raising her child, doing business, her life and family relationships restored by God through Mended Hearts.
On how her organisation came to grow, Mercy says: “We would meet up with a few interested people to plan.”
Kitty Gomora, married with two children explains her story: “Last year, I saw an article in the newspapers and I got involved with the meetings.”
She says they have Bible studies online and since then, she has seen God take her out of situations.
“My marriage had issues and my life was cluttered. I drank too much, but my lifestyle is different now. I have learnt to be calm which has improved my marriage. Since then, my husband comes home on time. We live in harmony. Mended Hearts and Girl Code have changed me, even financially,” she explains.
Mended Hearts works with Daughters’ of Destiny-a Christian grouping of girls- with normally a turn up of 53 plus girls in her sessions.
Mercy is also involved with Student Christian Organisation of Malawi Forum (Scomaf), going out to secondary schools; ministering and counselling students.
“I can’t count how many I have reached out. I have been in Scomaf since 2016,” she says.
Mercy helps five orphaned children with school materials.
On challenges she has encountered, Mercy says the newspaper story put her on the spotlight.
She says many people came through not because they needed help, but frustrated men wanting to date her.
“You know how when you bring out a lonely heart issue everybody thinks you are the one who is looking for something. So, that has been hard because they don’t know the limit. They don’t know where to draw the line.
“I’ve had challenges with people looking down on me. When I look at some of them, I feel like God has prompted me to help them, but with the way they come out, it’s hard for me to come through,” she laments.
Her dream is to reach out to as many people as possible; in colleges, secondary and primary schools as well as companies.
Despite her own troubles, she has to deal with everyone’s troubles when they call.
“I don’t know if it is just a gift or the way God wanted to. I am a very emotional person. Your problems become my problems,” she adds.
Mercy studied hospitality and tourism management; and has a diploma obtained in 2012.
From there, she went to Protea Hotel- Ryalls for training, then worked as a receptionist from January 2015.
In December 2016, she won the Employee of the Year Award among 182 Ryalls employees, something she says she never saw coming.
She now works as reservationist agent having been promoted at the hotel. n