Local organization making a difference in the warm heart of Africa

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - What began as a one-time mission trip to Malawi for First Presbyterian Church in South Bend turned the missionaries' world upside down.

The church saw a need to help those living in poverty and falling victim to diseases, so they launched Malawi Matters.

"Sub-Saharan Africa is the most impacted area in the world. It has roughly two-thirds of the world's infections and three-quarters of the world's AIDS-related deaths," said Phyllis Wezeman, president of the Malawi Matters Board. "Our program takes what they're already good at and know, and we teach them the facts and the data."

The church realized just how many Malawans were living here in Michiana.

"Two thousand people, approximately, from Malawi, Africa, are living in about a 40-mile radius in South Bend that extends into Berrien Springs, Elkhart and Niles," Wezeman said.

Malawi Matters teaches villagers the precautions they can take to avoid infections and diseases, as well as teaching them how to sustain themselves, because the need for this training is growing at an alarming rate.

For Wezeman, who just returned from her 22nd trip to Malawi, this education is a matter of life or death.

"If you're going to protect people in your home, know how this passes from one person to another," Wezeman said.

Wezeman published a book to help people back at home understand the importance of helping and giving to others. She says we all have something to give, no matter how big or small.

To learn more about "Malawi Matters" or to donate, click here.