Chosen Servant Ministries

Chosen Servant Ministries is an organisation with the purpose of feeding the poor and teaching them how to feed themselves, providing education and opportunities for people to succeed in life. find out more…



    This is a question I have asked myself – and have been asked – countless times as a volunteer with Chosen Servant Ministries to Madagascar.

    I wonder if it is the kids, under the age of ten, begging unsupervised in the capital city of Antananarivo. They walk around in ragged clothes, many carrying their younger siblings, with a look of hunger and desperation that is hard to ignore. While some of their counter parts are in school, a large part of the Malagasy children are out doing some sort of work to supplement their families’ incomes – which is sometimes done at the markets by scraping food that falls and breaks on the floor and is then swept onto a dustpan and thrown into a plastic bag.

    I considered that it could be the families that are so destitute that they have made homes out of various plastic bags held up by sticks, adjacent buildings or against large, metal trash canisters. As I walked past one of these homes one night I heard a baby crying inside. I was nearing the dwelling when a host of rats scurried into the warm spaces between the plastic walls while some just ran into the ‘home’ itself. These homes, especially those against or around the trash areas, are so placed so that whenever new trash arrives the home owners will be the first to sift through and find items to be sold or simply eaten.

    I also thought it could be the army of Malagasy people who are past living and are just surviving and yet wake up before the crack of dawn to do whatever they need to do in order to ensure their survival and that of their families. One day as we were coming back from the airport at three in the morning I was surprised to see the number of people already out and about – digging through the trash in search of items I deem less than valuable – things like empty cans, a single broken shoe, empty bottles, etc – to sell at the markets that cater exclusively for such items.

    The list is exhaustive and people then ask: are there no Malagasy people to look after their own poor? I always respond by pointing out that we have poor people in my country (South Africa) too and we have more than half the our population in a good position to help but only a negligible percentage even acknowledges the need. How much more help does Madagascar need with only about 10% being truly in position to effect help and about 76% desperately needing assistance?

    What truly inspires me is the way that a majority of the Malagasy realize that if they do not get up and at least make a desperate attempt at making a living – no matter how despised the attempt is perceived – no one will help them. I hate the fact that children have to suffer and have adult responsibilities alongside their parents instead of being at school and playing around carefree, but in spite and because of the deplorable circumstances they find themselves in they grow up to be go getter and solution finders. It is a far too higher price to pay for such a lesson but it makes helping them that much more attractive as they get excited, involved and are grateful even as adults.

    The people of Madagascar nestled in my heart from the first day – it is now impossible to remove them without killing a large part of me. I love that they acknowledge their needs but love even more that they do what they can and have to do in order to reduce their need and to sustain themselves. Isolated as an island from the rest of Africa and the world, the Malagasy have learnt to make do yet still remain hospitable, friendly and welcoming.

    When I think of Madagascar I think of the triumph of the human soul and spirit. I see hands that are not just reaching out for help but are already busy doing what they can even as they call out for help. I see a lot of extreme poverty braved through by strong people who persevere regardless the multitudes of limitations and challenges.

    When I think of Madagascar I feel deep love and hard respect. When I think of Madagascar I think: WHY EVER NOT MADAGASCAR?

    By Amiel Mathebula for CSM ©2015

    23 Apr 2015

    A mother of one of the families whose children are being fed at The Living Centre was unable to feed her kids, not lunch nor dinner, part of the previous week!!! This is a bomb Nina dropped on me as we walked to the market to buy the next week’s food for  The Living  Centre.  To say I  was  taken  aback would be understatement of  the millennium thus far!! The fact is I have been to most of the kids’ homes and seen the deplorable conditions under which they live. I have been to their homes where a three quarter bed occupies most of the space that is available in the crude wooden hut that  these  wonderful  folks  have  managed  to  secure  for  the  family.  I  know  that,  for  most  of  the  children, a  bed  to sleep on is too  much of a luxury when there are 9 individuals living in a space less than 4 meters squared. Fidy has told  me  about  the  kids’  initial  surprise  when  they received  sufficient  quantities  of  food  individual  plates:  many  of these young residents of Manirotsoa are used to sharing a plate, of whatever is available – when it is available, with other siblings. I have been told about school marks that were low because the children were too faint from hunger in the heat and could therefore not focus on school work.  I am aware of all this and more and yet the fact that a family that I now know had no food to supply the little ones still  shocks  me.  I  believe  that  is  because  with  the  care,  love  and  prayer  put  into  each  breakfast  plate  meal  at  The Living Centre the children look healthy that it is easy to delude one’s self into forgetting – albeit for a bit – the reality of the children’s lives. 

    Each  breakfast  plate  (with  starch,  vegetable(s)  and  protein  and  the  occasional  fruit  and/or  other  treat)  sometimes represents  the  only  meal  for  the  day;  it  always  represents  the  most  nutritional  and  hygienic  plate  that  the  kids receive daily. It represents the energy required to face the mixture of childhood life with adult responsibilities that is many of  these children’s lives. On the  mornings when  some  might  think the breakfast falls short of expectations it still represents  much  more  than we, in our pampered lives, can  imagine because at times the plate represents the meal that is keeping a kid from complete starvation.  Each plate is possible because of people who care and see and see value in doing that which is needed to change the world  one  life  at  a  time.  Thank  you  to  everyone  who  has  gotten  involved  as  they  are  able:  the  donors  –  without whom  there  would  be  no  fuel  for  CSM  engine  to  run, the  directors  –  who  coordinate  the  entire  machine  so  the pieces fit accordingly and the staff – without whom the entire machine would stand still. Chosen Servant Ministries in Soavinadriana and Antananarivo is giving hope, stability, love and so much more to each child being fed and cared for.  By the way I forgot: Nina dropped her bomb as we were walking past a teenager in canal water – water so filthy it begs  not  to  be  described  –  fishing  for  the  stunted fish  that  manage  to  survive  there.  These  fish  from the contaminated water are some children’s meal. 
    You can never underestimate the value of each plate (to each person receiving it). 
    Amiel Mathebula for Chosen Servant Ministries ©2015 

    27 Mar 2015

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