“You Don’t Look Like Someone Who Comes from There”: Alice Shares Her Story with Malawi’s First Lady

08/07/17

Alice Williams stared out of the window as the car rolled up to the large gated entrance of Malawi’s state house. She, along with COTN Founders Chris and Debbie Clark, COTN graduate Francisco Kalima, and several other COTN staff, were here to meet Malawi’s First Lady, Gertrude Mutharika. 

Alice was here to share her story with the First Lady. 

Alice (right) never dreamed she would have an opportunity to share her story with Malawi's First Lady (left).

 

“I was thinking inside, ‘How has this happened? Why out of all the children in Children of the Nations did they pick me?’” Alice recalls. “I couldn't find answers, but in my heart I said thank you to God for helping me reach this far. I never dreamed of this.”

Alice had never experienced anything like this before. The guards greeted them by name, they walked through security, and Alice did something she’d never done before—ride in an elevator. “I got in the elevator the wrong way,” Alice says laughing.

Every moment of their visit was scheduled and full of formalities. As they waited for the First Lady, they were offered beverages and a small appetizer. When the First Lady arrived, they addressed her as, “Madam, your excellency.” 

“The meeting felt so formal, except when Alice and Francisco began to share,” says Debbie. “It went from being so formal, to real.”

Alice shared about how she grew up in Mtsiliza, a deeply impoverished village on the outskirts of Lilongwe. After her parents died, she was sent to Mtsiliza to live with her grandparents. They couldn’t provide for her and the other six children living in their one-room mud-walled hut. Alice explained how she was often sick as a child. There was no money for doctors or medicine. She couldn’t go to school. She was always the last child to eat in the family. Her grandparents told her she could never hope to become anything.

 

 

Alice’s life changed dramatically the day she moved into COTN’s Children’s Homes. Suddenly, she was part of a loving family and was given the physical, spiritual, emotional, and educational care she so desperately needed. 

 

But when COTN learned of the conditions she was living in, Alice was invited to live in COTN’s Children’s Home. Her life changed dramatically. She had food every day. She went to school. She became the first in her family to graduate from secondary school, and soon she would graduate from university. Alice was a miracle.

“You can list your goals, accomplishments,” says Debbie Clark, COTN founder, “but when a child tells the depth of their story and where they’ve come from, that’s what brought so much life to the meeting and for sure what touched [the First Lady’s] heart.”

Alice explained that she looked up to the First Lady for her leadership and generous heart. When Alice finished, the First Lady stood up and gave her a hug.

 

 The First Lady (center) was deeply touched by Alice (left) and Francisco’s (right) stories.

 

“She is someone who is not easy to touch. I was just so amazed,” says Alice. “She didn’t know much about COTN before this. She thought we just came from a nice place. When I mentioned my village, she was like, ‘How can that happen? You don’t look like someone who has come from there. Wow, Children of the Nations is really doing a great job.”

“Alice did such an incredible job,” Debbie says. “She was eloquent, but real and personable.”

To everyone’s surprise, the First Lady had one more request for Alice—she asked her to share her story again at a nationwide girls education event. In front of 300 girls, the President and First Lady, and the Chinese ambassador, Alice shared her story again. She encouraged the girls to work hard and gave glory to God for her own success.

 

        In May, Alice graduated from African Bible College with a degree in Christian education.

 

Alice says she is overwhelmed and grateful for these amazing opportunities to share her story. “This gave validity to her journey,” Chris Clark says. “Sometimes you can come from that background and think that you’ll never overcome.” 

“I think God is just showing me His greatness and how He makes good things from hard things,” says Alice. “I'm learning to trust Him.”