For two weeks last June, Austin Cox traveled to Malawi, Africa to volunteer at Mtendere (n-ten-dear-ie), a small orphan village. He traveled with eight other people from the Auburn Church of Christ from Auburn, AL to a small children’s village in Malawi where many of the children are orphaned due to HIV and AIDS.
Austin was introduced to this opportunity by a member of his church, Moses Khombe, a Malawi native, and Nu Skin sponsored BYU Ph.D. candidate. There, these non-LDS missionaries would teach small children Bible stories, as well as helping in the fields and building hospitals.
Austin had to pay most of his way out of pocket, scraping as many hours as he could with his afterschool job. “I had from the middle of May until June, just over weeks to figure it out—it was a scramble.”
Leaving behind his friends, family, job and civilization he boarded the plane to the middle of nowhere. Almost instantly, he was enchanted with the people, the culture and the small children.
“These people were just so friendly, welcoming and beautiful,” Austin Cox said.
Mtendere is a village that is sponsored by Napoleon Dzonbe. Napoleon directly works with Nu Skin whose minerals plus Malawi’s flour creates Vitameal. Vitameal would feed a person twice a day for 30 days. But the bags weren’t given out to everyone; some children are given a ticket to obtain a bag.
“The hardest thing would be handing out these bags and having to see these small children with bloated stomachs from hunger have to be skipped because they didn’t have a ticket,” Cox remembers.
There are people that Austin will never forget both in Malawi and in Auburn. At first it was hard for him to journey to a new world with people he barely knew, but now he feels he has friends who he can never forget.
“I’m always talking to at least one person in Alabama,” Cox says, cruising around his smartphone. “You just grow together and share experiences that you will never have with anyone else.”
There are many ways to get involved in Malawi without leaving the comfort of America. The children of Mtendere have an album for sale on iTunes, Joy in the Village, with all proceeds helping the orphanage. Donate to Nu Skin to help pay for the Vitameals. Sponsor a kid through 100X Missions; a monthly donation of $40 pays for an orphans schooling and housing. Austin sponsors one, 16 year old Malawi orphan Feston, each month. You can physically go there and make a visit or you can donate items; Austin brought 500 pairs of glasses with him.
Cox says, “If you are even thinking about it, do it. You will never forget the experiences you have there and will come home a new and even better person. I can’t wait to go back.”
By Chris Rafferty