BANJA UMODZI was founded in 2005 by two siblings who learned of a remarkable woman using her own home to care for all the orphans in her village. In need of space, but without the resources to move, Banja partnered with the woman and acquired a building for the purpose of supporting the village orphans. Eventually, Banja teamed up with Road to Relief, a local non-profit, to develop the space for continued use by local orphanages.
Orphan care remained Banja’s mission for close to a decade until 2015 when Malawi was hit by devastating floods that ravaged a significant part of the country. Over 200,000 people were displaced, many lost their lives and tens of thousand were left homeless. Banja began crowd sourcing funds to provide emergency relief, focusing on Matanya village between Phalombe and Mulange in southern Malawi. Eventually, Banja expanded its efforts to include the village of Manola as well. In the process, they were able to deliver 7,740 kg of maize (ufa), 812 kg of beans, 330 blankets and a variety of other supplies to over a thousand people.
Subsequent to the floods, Banja partnered with the tribal elders and chiefs of both Manola and Matanya to begin rebuilding homes, many of which were completely wiped away by the floods. The effort began had a two-fold purpose: to provide housing for those left homeless and an asset that could be passed down to future generations. Beginning with the most vulnerable village members, the elderly and single mothers, Banja has on average built about 5 homes per year and hopes to expand its capacity in the years to come. In addition, the strategy focuses on hiring local builders and painters to help support the local economy.
In 2016, Malawi was faced with yet another natural disaster when a drought was exacerbated by the El Nino weather system. On the front lines of the real impact that climate change is having, over 2.8 million people, including 1.5 million children were impacted by the food crisis that ensued. Banja stepped in again to provide emergency food relief for over a thousand people in southern Malawi, relying on generous contributions from donors around the world.
In 2018, the team at Banja decided it was time to return our attention to orphan care. We partnered with Farao Lampi and the Mwai Orphan Care Centre in Ndirande Township to help support the amazing work they do. An orphanage that was started to honor his father’s legacy, Mr. Lampi used the little money he had towards creating a place where orphans could find a meal and get an education. Banja wanted to further his efforts and launched a campaign to cover 50% of the cost of providing two meals a day to all sixty orphans for the next two years.
Over the past 13 years, every single dollar, 100% of the donations, to Banja Umodzi has gone directly to those in need. No donations are used on administrative costs. In addition, Banja’s team is comprised of people from different backgrounds, different faiths and different histories. But we all share a love of humanity and a special affection for Malawi. We provide our support to whoever is need, no matter who they are.