In The Beginning...
(It is our duty to serve)
Josephine Makunje, a widowed farmer in Malawi, Africa, counted her blessings despite many tragic losses of friends and family to AIDS. Her response to the kindness of others was to try and do something for her small village of Dzaone in southern Malawi.
She took under her wings many of the local children who also had suffered losses, primarily of their parents. Orphaned at an early age, as a result of the AIDS epidemic, these children were living with extended families as a traditional family obligation. These families, barely surviving on subsistence farming, could not afford to feed, clothe and educate additional children. Hence, orphans of AIDS are always living on the fringes of society despite the best of intentions.
Josephine opened her heart and her home to these children, providing an occasional meal, looking for second hand clothes, sharing her land to grow corn, and teaching them Malawian traditions so they would not be lost.
As Peace Corps Volunteers in Malawi 1985-87, Josephine was Charley and Lynne's Chichewa and cultural teacher while we had our 2 week immersion experience living in her village home. We kept in touch over the years.
In 2001, our family returned to Malawi to volunteer at a local hospital. While visiting Josephine, she presented her orphans to us and explained her vision of supporting them in their very important early years and of keeping them in school.
Thus, Tiwovyepo Orphan Project was founded.
*Chi'Tonga language of Josephine's birthplace in Northern Malawi