News from Zambia

Missionary Newsletter February 2014

Dear Church friends,

I hope 2014 is treating you kindly. I hear it is very wet in the UK, particularly on the Levels near where I lived in Somerset, I hope you have not been affected by the weather in any way. We have just come through an almighty deluge this lunchtime, where the streets were flooded and impassable by foot without paddling. This however is normal for Choma in the rainy season, and soon even the 2/3 metre deep puddles will dry up. At this time of year the mighty Zambezi is in flood, and the flood plains stretch for 25 kilometres to Mongu in Western Province. There the Lozi king will soon leave his lowland palace using his elephant barge, paddled by 50 warriors, in favour of his highland palace where he is in less danger of getting his feet wet every time he steps out of the front door! Other casualties of the rains are large animals like elephants and hippo several of whom are swept over the falls each year.

Houses in Choma
Houses in Choma

Here in Choma, roughly a 15hour drive from Mongu, our building programme is progressing nicely. Houses 1 – 4 are now occupied by tenants 5 is at roof level and 6 at window level. We are planning on buying the roofing sheets soon and then we will progress with the interiors. As I mentioned before, with the influx of civil servants we have no difficulty in renting our houses once they are built, and people approach us nearly every day.

Moira and Dave Lee from Newmachar stayed with me for almost 3 months, and, despite my efforts, Moira left to join Dave on the 21st December; however we welcomed the arrival of Malcolm Evans on the 3rd January. Malcolm has worked for many years as a start-up business advisor and will be with us at Chodort for 2 months. He is looking at our carpentry productions business methods and costings, and will come up with some recommendations which will make our carpentry business profitable for the first time in many years.

January saw the 2nd anniversary of Play4all and I was delighted to go to Kitwe for the event. The building had been decorated and a tent put up in case of rain. There was drumming, dancing, dining and cake, and none of the children seemed put off by the almighty downpour which happened half way through, and just kept dancing in the mud! Play4all now runs 5 mornings a week, and needs to increase its pool of volunteers to be able to give more attention to the children. The object of play4all is to provide a safe place for the unschooled children who roam the compounds. It has affirming adult role models and uses play to increase thought processes like problem solving, social play and imaginative play. The volunteers are not teaching per se, but by being there and helping the children in the games they play they are increasing their life chances. There are around 3-5,000 school age children who do not go to school in Kamatipa alone.

Play4all anniversary
Play4all anniversary

Whilst in Kitwe, I also took the opportunity to visit the other group I worked closely with when I lived there, DOWIZA. This is a group of HIV+ widows with dependent children. They are doing a gardening project, but I intend to write a separate article about this.

Some frustrating news is that Mr Mwango, the vice principal for Chodort, and production manager, has been deferred from a bladder cancer operation 3 times this year. Each time he has been too far down the list to receive treatment before the theatre nurses left for the day at 2pm. This is part of the aftermath of the nurse’s strike in November, which was declared illegal by the government. Subsequently over 100 nurses were sacked from the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) just before Christmas. Another bewildering fact is that, according to Mr Mwango’s medical notes, UTH has known about the growth for 2 years but has not considered treatment before now. Please pray for Mr Mwango to have a successful operation. He is a most popular person in Chodort and beyond, I admire his positive outlook and value the sound advice he has given me since I arrived at Chodort.

Items for Praise:

  • For the second anniversary of Play4all Kamatipa.
  • For the renting of four houses on Chodort estate so far this year.
  • For constructive feedback about our carpentry production.
  • For the determination of the women of DOWIZA to make a difference in their lives.
  • For the successful graduation of all our students.

Items for Prayer:

  • For Mr Mwango as he waits for surgery in UTH.
  • For days for girls and clerical clothing projects to be well organised and successful.
  • For Play4all to flourish in 2014.

With every good wish for 2014,

Jenny Featherstone

Student Update

Jenny has given us the following details of the student we are to support in his carpentry course this year:-

The student I have in mind for you is an older person (38) and therefore beyond any funding we can get for vulnerable youths. His name is Stanley Mweetwa, and I have asked him to write a letter of introduction to you.

He was urged by his church to do church planting at Bible college (which the Brethren in Christ paid for) he completed this and then was not given clear instructions how (or where) to proceed, so he decided to do carpentry & joinery to have a back up profession whilst he was evangelising. He comes from Macha, about an hours drive from Choma. He seems a quiet unassuming person but willing to work too. When I asked him how he and his family were going to survive he answered he was already growing vegetables both in Macha ( which his wife presumably looks after) and here in Choma, where he hopes to sell the surplus. He has 4 children to look after, and as far as I can gather is staying with a friend in Choma to avoid paying rent, but will obviously have to make some contribution to household expenses.

Here is his letter (more or less word for word):

Dear Brothers / sister,

I am greeting you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. As for me I am still fine.

I thank the Lord for the opportunity to introduce myself to you the church of God. Firstly may I say my names are Stanley S Mweetwa aged 38 years. Staying in the outskirt of Choma O am from about 78 kilometres away, a Christian and now training in carpentry & joinery course at Chodort Training Centre. Therefore I am asking for assistance so that I can finish the course.

I have challenges in paying my school fees due to limited resource and high level of unemployment I am facing. If assisted I will have a skill to help me earn a living and train others in communities for the better of their lives as we continue serving the Lord Jesus Christ.

May the grace of the Lord be with you always yours faithfully

Stanley S Mweetwa

If you would like to write to Stanley on occasions, please let Margaret Simpson know.

June 2014 Update

On Sunday 11th May we had a visit from Malcolm Evans, recently returned from Zambia. His work and experience in Business Enterprise takes him to places abroad and he had spent 2-3 months at Chodart College, Choma, where Jenny Featherstone is Principal. He indicated to the congregation how vulnerable is the lifestyle of many of the students, especially in the courses of carpentry and tailoring. (Jenny had informed us that students on the IT course come from families able to pay fees – generally speaking).

Now Jenny writes about the student we are supporting – Stanley Mweetwa; he has proved something of a disappointment and has had to abandon the course due to family reasons. This means that we have paid for one term out of three, the two remaining terms being in abeyance.

Happily and coincidentally (as is the case frequently in the developing world), Jenny has had a visit from a young lady – Priscilla Handima – an existing student in the tailoring course, being sponsored by her father, a recently retired Council worker. Priscilla is married but her husband does not have a job beyond ‘piece work’, i.e. standing around waiting to be hired, as in Biblical days of old. Hence her father paying for her. Unfortunately he has had a serious stroke and, as is the tradition, was taken to the village to be cared for – away from clinics, hospital and medication. Since his small pension (gratuity) has not yet come through and he cannot access any money, he can no longer pay for her. It is agreed to do so. Here is the letter from Priscilla to

The minister in charge
Bennochy Church

Dear Sir,

My names are Priscilla Handima. I was born on 1st July 1984. I am the 4th in a family of seven. My educational background is that I was able to go up to grade seven because of lack of finances.

My father who was helping with school fees failed to do much because of sickness which resulted in a stroke.

Currently I am doing Tailoring course at Chodort Training centre. In between I am married with one child and currently I am pregnant. My husband is not in gainful employment.

All in all I shall be very grateful if you will sponsor me because the knowledge I will gain will go a long way in uplifting my living standard and that of my family.

yours sincerely

Priscilla Handima

Note: Grade 7 is the highest you can get with free education.

This illustrates the point of vulnerability in the college, as mentioned by our speaker, Malcolm Evans. He was also courier for the 2 boxes we had commissioned, in Rosewood and Mukwa, the local hardwoods; these will be used for any collections for other projects during the year.