News from Zambia

Missionary Newsletter November 2009

Dear Church friends,

Hello from a very hot and sticky Mindolo, the temperature climbs to the low 40's most days now and we are waiting for the rains to come.

The Diploma students graduated last week and have returned to their various countries. We also celebrated Mindolo's Golden Jubilee on graduation day too. There have been many changes over the 50 years of Mindolo Ecumenical Foundations existence. In this global economic climate however we are struggling to keep our head above water and I would value your prayers. In an attempt to keep things going the management is going to sell part of the training farm at Kalalushi, which was said to be one of the finest farms in Zambia in its day.

Under the mango tree
Under the mango tree

On a happier note the women at Ipusukilo have taken the first few steps of the marathon task of building a permanent structure. They are temporarily meeting under a mango tree, which is fine for the shade, but will be no good when the rains come. Together we have put forward a proposal for help with funding and are sending it off to various non governmental organisations. We are very grateful to Bishop Noel O'Regan of the Catholic Diocese of Ndola and Father Mwape of Ipusukilo parish who have helped us tremendously by allocating a substantial plot of land to the women of DOWIIZA for us to build on. It was to be part of the car park / grounds of the new church they are building and is a stones throw from the groups original meeting place at the MTN building. Our most urgent job is to build an Insaka (a traditional round grass roofed hut). This will serve as a meeting place and a shelter from the sun and the rain

The people from Kamatipa have finished their tailoring course, and have already had orders for 10 sets of pyjamas from someone returning home to Europe, and table runners and serviettes for a craft fair. Unfortunately time and inexperience would not allow them to meet both deadlines, so they chose to do the pyjamas. But they have managed to make some nice embroidered Christmas cards for the fair and I hope they will be successful. Recently when I was in Kamatipa I remarked on what different worlds we come from. Our perceptions are so different, and the Christmas traditions we take so for granted in Europe are totally alien there. I asked James, our talented carpenter, to make some small wooden Christmas tree decorations. Explaining what I wanted, I drew pictures of a star, a bell and a tree, but because he had no idea what I had in mind, they came out very differently indeed! As you can see, I still have to learn a lot about cultural assumptions!

The Women's Leadership participants graduation parade
The Women's Leadership participants graduation parade

On a more personal note, we have been experiencing a fuel shortage for the last few weeks, but thankfully have not had to queue endlessly for diesel as Max (the development worker who shares the car Illustration 1: under the mango tree Illustration 2: The Women's Leadership participants graduation parade with me) has priority access in his work for Kitwe city council. God is good! I also have been invited to teach on the Social Work Diploma for the United Church of Zambia Theological College next year. This will mean a change of emphasis from working primarily with the pan-African diploma students at MEF to training the social workers and deacons at the Theological College, (which is on the same grounds as MEF) . I will still keep my work in the compounds which is mostly directed under MEF.

Items for praise:

  • for the successful completion of the academic years at MEF & UCZ.
  • for Samuel and Richard, who seem to be managing to keep their small enterprises going.
  • for contact with 3 Irish development graduates, holidaying in MEF who are teaching me and the Ipusukilo group many useful skills.
  • that the MEF swimming pool is open again after 8 years!
  • and a very special appreciation of our Chaplin Adrian Hendy (former EEP) who will be leaving soon, for showing real commitment to staff and students alike.

Items for prayer:

  • for Loveness, a single mother with two very bright teenage daughters, that she will find a regular income.
  • For MEF that they will find the right direction to solve their financial problems.
  • for me that my shift in emphasis to UCZ next year will go smoothly.
  • for the successful building of the insaka in Ipusukilo before the rains set in.

Wishing you all Gods very best as you prepare for Christmas,