Stella's Story: 2023 Update

Stella (7) after the grand opening of the Pangeti home in November 2021.

“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?” Luke 15


Stella lived with her grandmother in a poor rural village in southern Malawi. Both of Stella’s parents died from HIV several years before. Stella was left on her own to deal with trauma of her parents death, food insecurity and inability to attend school.

Rescue #1

Orphan Shade and local church partner built a home in the Pangeti village in 2021. Orphan Shade volunteers discovered Stella and went to the grandmother to met her. The grandmother joyfully gave Orphan Shade permission to raise Stella in a new family in the village. Stella was warmly welcomed into a new family in a new home in her own village.


Several months later, we discovered that the grandmother was using witchcraft to make money. She advised us that her business dried up after Stella left her home. She decided that Stella belongs with her. We objected and explained that she gave Orphan Shade permission to raise the child until age 18. The grandmother made multiple tries to get Stella back. Stella was very afraid. The grandmother subsequently abducted Stella from school and fled to bordering Mozambique in April 2022.


Stella’s sisters were very sad about Stella's disappearance. However, they were more fearful that they would be abducted just like Stella. They had just been together for 6 months as a family. Therefore, we saw past trauma raise it's ugly head.

The local church and our leadership team in Blantyre were heartbroken when the news hit. We immediately began praying for Stella's safety and her quick return.

The Search

An experienced tracker was hired to search for Stella in rural Mozambique. He was very experienced at locating people deep in the jungles of Mozambique. We acknowledged that locating her would be like discovering a needle in a haystack. Many prayed for Stella and her return.

Stella is found

Four months later the tracker reported finding Stella in a remote village in Mozambique. The local chief requested a family member come to the village from Malawi to confirm the story and the abduction.

Pastor Kampomo carries Stella (8) on the journey back to Malawi in August 2022

The Reunion

Prince Kampomo, Pastor Kausiwa Pangeti Pastor) and Stella’s teenage brother made the journey from Malawi. They traveled for a day by canoe, motorcycle and by foot. Stella ran and tightly embraced Prince Kampomo when she saw him arrive in the village. It was a highly emotional reunion.

The Negotiation

Pastor Kampomo met with the village headman and the local police over several days. A negotiation then ensued with the police for Stella's release. They came to terms on a “facilitation payment” and were able to start the return journey to Malawi with Stella.  

Return to Malawi

Stella was brought to Blantyre for medical care and trauma observation. Two weeks later Stella returned to her Orphan Shade family in the village. The sisters responded with a big Stella group hug. They were thrilled with her return to the family.

The Pangeti family reunited. Stella is in the middle with the red dress. Pastor Kampomo is on the left. Mr. Moyo and Mayi Moyo are to the right.

October 2023 Update

One year later Stella is a generally happy 8 year old despite all the traumatic experiences she has experienced. She is now excelling at school. She finished the recent school year ranked 9th out of 77 students. She is now beginning standard 3 (3rd grade).

Stella sometimes has nightmares when relatives come to visit her. She tries to stay away from them. However, she has been assured that no one can take her from the house ever again.

We are seeking guidance from child psychologists that are experienced in dealing with childhood trauma in Malawi. We acknowledge that Stella needs understanding, an ear to listen, unconditional love and much prayer to provide healing for all that she has been through.