It takes many people coming together to make Pamoza’s work successful. Some of these people work diligently behind the scenes and never seek any recognition. At Pamoza, we value the contributions of all our staff, volunteers, and supporters. That’s why, we created this space to highlight individuals who work behind the scenes to help advance our work in Malawi.

Meet Brandon & Karissa Forino

Meet two of our most committed volunteers: Brandon & Karissa. We were so excited when they got married in 2019! We knew that together, they would be a great force for change. This couple volunteers for Pamoza in so many ways –
helping us enhance our financial processes, supporting our mission team, participating in our 5K, traveling to Malawi, and building corporate sponsors! So we asked them some questions to find out why they do what they do for others.

You have been involved with Pamoza for some time now. What keeps you involved?

Karissa in Malawi in 2016

We love Pamoza! From the mission to the staff, every part of Pamoza makes us feel welcome to give our time and serve. Pamoza’s dedication to sustainable, Christ-centered community development is at the core of our love for this organization. I (Karissa) saw this firsthand when I studied abroad in Malawi with Dr. Mtika, and serving with Pamoza has been very close to my heart ever since. Our relationships with staff and other volunteers over the past few years have made Pamoza feel like family, and has continued to grow our love for the work they do.

One of the things you decided to do after graduating from college was to support Pamoza with a monthly donation. What made you decide to donate every month instead of once in a while?

Giving consistently was something we knew we wanted to prioritize both as new graduates and as newlyweds. Our hearts are deeply connected to Pamoza and we knew giving monthly would not only have the greatest impact, but also was a way to faithfully commit to supporting God’s work in Malawi.

What is one of your favorite memories volunteering with Pamoza?

Brandon & Karissa at Pamoza’s 1st gala

One of our favorite experiences volunteering together for Pamoza was the Gala. The evening was such a testament to the wonderful work Pamoza does, and it highlighted the beautiful community of staff, volunteers and donors who all make this work possible. It was an honor to volunteer for the first ever Pamoza Gala, and not to mention it was a total blast!

What do you think is something someone can easily do to help Pamoza and the people we serve in Malawi?

One of the easiest, but most impactful things someone could do for Pamoza is pray! Pray for the work, the staff, and the people they serve. If you already pray for Pamoza regularly, another easy way to support their work is by joining their recycling program. Donate empty ink cartridges, used cell phones, and aluminum cans which can be recycled for cash to fund Pamoza programs. Think broadly, you can find these items at your work, at home, or even at church!

Meet Damaseko Nyirongo

Behind every great organization are great employees. Damaseko Nyirongo is one of those. He joined Pamoza in 2014 and has been working hard to improve the lives of people in rural Malawi since then. In his role as Programs Manager, Damaseko has helped us grow from a staff of 3 to 23 and from serving 4 communities to 20. Here’s more about Dama.

“When I told my previous employer that I was leaving to work for Pamoza, they thought it was because they were not paying me enough so they offered me a 200% salary increase. But it wasn’t because of the money; it was because this is where God wants me to be – working with the people Pamoza serves. “

What do you like most about your job as Pamoza’s Programs Manager?

What I love most about my job is the relationship we have among the Board, management, staff, and the communities we serve. Everyone works together very well. The other thing I like are the challenges which help me grow professionally.

What would you say is the most difficult part of your job?

I have been working in community development a long time so I have been blessed with a lot of experience, but many of our staff come from the local area and have not had as much experience; they require a lot more coaching and development. That’s challenging for me, but it’s also rewarding when you see their growth.

Before you started working for Pamoza, you used to live in the capital city of Malawi? Why did you leave the city for the village?

It is true that I used to work in Lilongwe, the capital city, and there was many more amenities there and I had a good job with a good position. In fact, when I told my previous employer that I was leaving to work for Pamoza, they thought it was because they were not paying me enough so they offered me a 200% salary increase. But it wasn’t because of the money; it was because this is where God wants me to be – working with the people Pamoza serves.

Damaseko (2nd from front) and the staff he has brought on in Malawi

What is your favorite Pamoza program or initiative?

As a Programs Manager, all programs make me very proud because Pamoza’s work is like a web where every initiative is intertwined together. However, as a Christian, I am very proud of our Christian outreach efforts because that is the key to any human development.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

Most people don’t know that it really pains me when people’s lives are not transformed. Some people think I am a mean person because I don’t condone activities or behavior that don’t contribute to the development of people, but I’m not mean; I just want to see people’s lives improve.

Meet Janet Daly

Janet loves to serve. She has been this way most of her life. So in 2014 when Janet retired from teaching, it was no surprise that she took on even more service projects, including raising awareness about the needs of people in Malawi.

Janet’s involvement with Pamoza began with a mission trip to Malawi in 2013. That was when her church, Springton Lake Presbyterian, took a team of 20 individuals (including youth) to Malawi. Over the course of 2 weeks, they distributed Bibles, facilitated a Vacation Bible School program, and performed medical check-ups. 

“I didn’t want to be someone who sees a need but does nothing about it, so I decided to get involved. ”  – Janet

Janet immediately fell in love with the children of Zowe community in rural Malawi. That love followed her to the U.S. She went back to her school, Russell Elementary, and encouraged them to engage in a two year-long service project where they learned about the needs of students in Malawi and raised more than $7,000 to support Pamoza’s school breakfast program which feeds 1,500 students each school day. Powered by her desire to do even more, Janet volunteered to be Pamoza’s School Partnership Coordinator. Her role is to engage schools and students in efforts to improve the lives of people in Malawi. If you are a student or a teacher and want to engage your school in serving, then Janet is the person you need. Janet has been to Malawi twice and plans to visit again. Each time she comes back with new ideas on ways to help students.

Janet holding a kid in her lap during her 2015 trip to Malawi

We caught up with Janet to find out why she loves Pamoza and what makes her such a committed volunteer. Here are excerpts from our interview:

What made you get involved with  Pamoza?

I participated in the 2013 mission trip to Malawi because I had heard a lot about what Pamoza was doing there and I was impressed, but I wanted to see for myself. When I was there, I realized I wanted to get more involved not only to help meet the needs of people in Malawi, but also to meet my own needs for purpose. I fell in love with the kids in Malawi and I remember thinking some of them might not be around when I come back because they might die from hunger. I didn’t want to be someone who sees a need but does nothing about it, so I decided to get involved.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

When I was 21, I participated in Outward Bound for one month on the Appalachian Trail. So many things happened during the trip: we slept outside without tents and we didn’t have bathrooms or showers. We had to hang our food on the line to keep it from bears and I remember one night bears came and were jumping up trying to get our food. That trip helped me feel comfortable in any environment and taught me how to survive without most comforts. Therefore, when I went to rural Malawi, where there is no electricity and no running water, it was no big deal. I could cope in that environment.

What is one of your favorite memories working for Pamoza?

I really loved doing Camp Treasure Island (a Vacation Bible School program) in Malawi and working with my partner, Timothy Gondwe (Pamoza’s Christian Outreach Facilitator). Everything was fresh and new and exciting for the kids. They had no expectations. One of my passions is presenting the Gospel to kids, and doing it across the world with all those eager children was a wonderful experience.

Janet and the VBS team retelling a Bible story to children in Malawi

What advice do you have for other people who want to get more involved with Pamoza?

Do it. It’s just so incredibly rewarding. Start by contacting Temwa; she’ll put you to work. She always has more than enough things to do. If you are looking for something to really give your life purpose, then I recommend you volunteer – with Pamoza or anywhere else. What you can do for others gives you purpose. For me, as a Christian, doing work that pleases God is very important. That’s why I volunteer. It’s for His kingdom.

Meet Nichelle Davis Ahmaddiya

Everyone who has worked with Nichelle always has the same response and reaction: “I love working with Nichelle!”. She leaves everyone feeling valued and important. It’s one of the qualities that has made her an outstanding volunteer for Pamoza and one of the reasons we find her irreplaceable.

“Pamoza was my first chance, outside of church, to work with an organization that is completely rooted in the love of God ”  – Nichelle

Nichelle started her journey with Pamoza International in 2015. She found out about the organization through her friend, Executive Director, Temwa Wright. Once Temwa discovered Nichelle was good at so many things – Excel, social media, networking, grant writing, and etc. – Nichelle was called upon for many, many favors. Nichelle didn’t mind because she believed in the cause and she enjoys helping others. She didn’t know it was only the beginning of more Pamoza work.

In 2016, Nichelle formally joined Pamoza’s team as a part-time Executive Assistant. She worked to organize Pamoza’s fundraising efforts including the annual 5K run and Double-the-Blessings Challenge. She created effective strategies for engaging Pamoza supporters, boosted social media outreach, supported the 2018 missions group, and became one of Pamoza’s most devoted ambassadors, encouraging everyone to get involved.

In 2018, Nichelle went through some health challenges that made it difficult for her to continue serving as Executive Assistant and she left her formal role, but she continues to be involved as a Pamoza Ambassador and volunteer today.

We caught up with Nichelle to find out why she loves Pamoza and what makes her so amazing. Here are excerpts from our interview.

What made you get involved with Pamoza?

Everyone who knows and loves Temwa ends up being involved with Pamoza!  Seriously, Pamoza was my first chance, outside of church, to work with an organization  that is completely rooted in the love of God.  The move of the Holy Spirit working through Temwa and others to serve the community in Malawi is awesome.  When I work with Pamoza, I always feel like I’m working on the Lord’s plan.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

Nichelle and twin sister Nichole

I have an identical twin sister.  I tell people this but they forget—until they meet her, either accidentally or deliberately.  But in, general, I think I’m an open book; I share of myself, whatever is asked, so there isn’t really much people don’t know.

What is one of your favorite memories working for Pamoza?

Filming Temwa for a Message from the Executive Director.  Temwa’s passion makes her talkative when it comes to Pamoza so we had to do a lot of filming to get the video down to under a minute!

What advice do you have for other people who want to get more involved with Pamoza?

If you already know about Pamoza but haven’t been involved, then participate in the annual 5K walk/run.  By doing so, you not only support Pamoza, but you become part of a group of people who will encourage you, support you and celebrate you and your accomplishments. Through participation in the 5K, Pamoza supporters develop greater knowledge about Pamoza’s mission, the people in Malawi, and how much God is at the center of it all.  

Nichelle crossing the finish line at Pamoza’s 5K