“We Are So Grateful to Give Back”: Malawi Graduates Teach in Sierra Leone


At Children of the Nations our goal is not just to feed and care for children in need, but to raise children who transform nations.

Sarah Ackim, Rebecca Chinseu, and Promise Kanyangala are all university graduates, and they were all children served by COTN-Malawi. They recently traveled to Sierra Leone to teach children in COTN’s Sierra Leone schools.

                 Rebecca, Promise, and Sarah are excited to share God’s love with children in Sierra Leone.

This is no small journey. The distance between Malawi (in southern Africa) and Sierra Leone (on the northwest African coast) is approximately 3,500 miles. And not only is this big change in geography, it’s also a change in culture.

All of the young women mention the friendliness and hospitality of the people when asked what their favorite thing is about Sierra Leone. But they all miss their families (and Malawian food) and are experiencing a bit of culture shock.

Sarah is visually emotional when she talks about home, saying, “I am missing the company, the COTN family there. We are connected. I miss them a lot.”
Even though all the teaching is in English, even the pronunciation of English words in Sierra Leone is different than it is in Malawi. Rebecca says that she is trying to work on her pronunciation “so I don’t confuse my kids!”

Promise had worried that Sierra Leone would be too warm for her. “So I was surprised that it was raining season,” she says. “Here that is very terrifying—the thunder and the lightning! In Malawi we have it, but it is not so bad. When the rain comes I want to cover myself in blankets and cover my face so that I don’t have to see the lightning!”

But the friendliness of her students has helped Promise feel at home. She explains, “Since I have started teaching here I have been receiving things from my students each and every day. I have been given gifts—Sierra Leonean food, like ‘garri’ [a form of tapioca].”

Sometimes this friendliness is cause for amusement to the Malawian young women. “Each and every time I see someone they greet me,” says Promise. “I can receive a million greetings from each person! In Malawi when we say ‘hi,’ it is once and for all. But here you greet, you chat, [tell] a few stories, and then you proceed—every time you see the person! We were laughing in the house [with Rebecca and Sarah] about getting tired of all the greeting, but we are getting used to it. It is the culture.”


                   Rebecca and Sarah at their graduation with COTN-Malawi country director, Kibble Ngalauka.

Each teacher has high hopes for seeing God work in her students’ lives, and in her own.

When asked what she hoped God would teach her through this experience, Rebecca said, “Humility and patience. Because taking it from the perspective of a class—there is a lot that I need to be patient for. Growth is a gradual process. You will not impact someone in just one day.”

Promise says of her students, “I want them to pass with flying colors. I will try my best to help them. I want to show my good character to them and be a role model for them. I will be encouraging them in class. I know that for me to be where I am today it took someone to motivate me. It is my prayer to God to give me the strength. I know that our coming here is a calling. He had a purpose for my life.”

Sarah wants to see her students improve: “Especially in English. I want them to do well. I also want them to grow spiritually. [As] for my own personal development, I am learning how to be a strong woman. The environment is hard, so I am trying to be strong. And to be appreciative and to be thankful for what God is doing—not worrying, not complaining, but to be thankful.”

“We are so grateful to give back,” says Rebecca.

And the other young women echo this sentiment. Sarah says, “After looking at how COTN has helped me since I was young, I took it as an exciting thing to help them as I have been helped.”

Promise adds, “A word of thanks to COTN as a whole for giving me an opportunity to learn from another country. It is like a dream.”

When you help a child through COTN, you aren’t just changing one life; you are affecting countless lives with the love of God. Thank you!