As usual, as we look back over the past three months we have much to be thankful for. We are now in the cold season where the temperatures drop sharply after sunset and it is often very cold especially just before dawn. It was just 2C when we set off for Livingstone in the dark the other day. People adjust their dress accordingly. These mornings, it is the time for beanies, anoraks and tightly wrapped chitenges – and socks worn with flip-flops! The level of the river continues to fall and the mulapo (seasonal stream) that forms our garden boundary to the North is now dry. The fishermen in their mikolo are back netting and fish are again plentiful. Monday, 1st July was a public holiday, so we bought a large basin of fish and spent a few hours as a family communally cleaning, scaling and freezing all the bream and tiger we had bought. It is also the season to make biltong (dried meat).
Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 63:7
The main events in April were our trip to Kabwe for the commissioning of the Deaconesses and ordination of the new ministers including our own deaconess and reverend. This was followed by the Synod Executive Meeting, similar to our General Assembly. It was good to meet up with many Church friends there including our Bangladeshi colleagues. The theme of the meeting was “Seeking the Church Transformed through Prudent Stewardship.” Business covered a wide area of concerns including Church land, finance, Health and Education institutions inclusion of both Chipembi and Mindolo as faculties in the new UCZ University, twinnings, media, radio and communications and policies for scholarships and study, doctrinal guidance for congregations and finally a document on preachers and lay-preachers.
A major issue discussed at this meeting was the construction of the UCZ Investment Complex at Woodlands. This will comprise 2 buildings, one office block and one residential block. All office units and apartments would be leased to help the UCZ become more financially self-sustaining.
In May we had another visit from our friends from Hickory in North Carolina. Ida was busy with Dr Ozzie Reynold’s eye-team who undertook 46 eye-cataract operations in the week they were here. They were followed by Goldsboro, both of these Churches are a blessing to many with their faithful support of the Formula Programme. We also enjoyed meeting up with some good old friends from Hickory on two separate occasions. Ellie and Conway came for the American Board Meeting and Jo Brenda, Cathie and Jim Ruble came with a group of student nurses and supplied artificial limbs to those attending the clinic and in need. The most moving time was when a woman from a remote rural area got her limbs and learned to walk for the first time. Other patients who had received limbs in the past came to have them checked, adjusted or replaced too.
On Labour Day Ida and I were both touched and humbled to be called to the District Celebrations in Sesheke and there be presented by the Minister for Western Province with a Certificate of Appreciation for our contribution towards human development partnership with the Government of the Republic of Zambia in Mwandi and Sesheke Districts.
Renovations are underway at the hospital. Over US$300 000 has been allocated by the American Fundraising Board to improve the toilets, ablutions and wards. The patients have been moved to the previously-cleared TB and Infectious Diseases Wards while this work is underway. A Zambian contractor, who worked on the new Levy (Mwanawasa) Mall in Lusaka, has been engaged to undertake this. Good progress is being made on this. Work has also started on the new UCZ Mwandi Church building being constructed on the site of the original 1913 church. It is interesting that this is happening 100 years to the year of the inauguration of the Sesheke (Mwandi) Church on 25 December 1913. This brick Church was constructed by Rev John Roulet who served in Livingstone and Mwandi for over 43 years. At Sikuzu, the two staff latrines are complete. The doors have just to be hung. The solar panel, lights and inverter have all been installed and are working. A preliminary visit was made to look at the requirements and the necessary work to undertake the digging of the well to secure pure drinking water for the school and community. Once the surface water recedes some more we will be able to reach the location of the well which is still underwater.
Related to this Rob, Fiona’s father and Keith did a tour of the hand pumps located at the Diptank, Makanga, Namango and the 3 pumps at Mabumbu. All registered unacceptably high levels of salinity, which if drunk continually over time could impair kidney function and lead to increased cases of high blood pressure. Ironically the best and purest drinking water came from the river at Kasaya!
For the first time in 20 years we now have drinking water in our house from a tap. Before this we boiled river water, let it cool and poured it into a metal water filter with ceramic elements that claimed to remove harmful organisms. Our new water purification system’s spare parts are low cost and easily available. The river water goes through spun fibre to remove solid particles, then carbon grains followed by a carbon block to remove organic material and odour; then it passes through ultraviolet light to kill bacteria and other micro-organisms. It can produce 15,000 litres before needing to change the filters and yields 4 litres a minute.
In June we had our annual visit from Independent Presbyterian Church who did sterling service painting the Admin block, resealed the Green Goddess (MASH Steriliser), plumbed in the last Aiken washing machine and repaired the tumble dryer. Then Mike Campbell, the General Surgeon, and Jim Wilson, the Gynaecologist, with their team did another 35 surgeries between them; 22 of which were major cases.
Two weeks ago we received a container through the Christian African Relief Trust. CART are old friends of Mwandi Mission and had sent us a previous one in 2009. We had requested mattresses for the Mission Hospital and 103 were unloaded and stacked in the chapel. Ida is investigating now the costs and logistics of acquiring and purchasing new hospital beds. In Zambia, they come in at around £600 each. There were a number of boxes for the Hospital Central Stores and some orthopaedic crutches and sticks. Chairs and desks for the school were off-loaded into the Land Rover 130 and driven to the school. We also borrowed the OVC truck to transport the other boxes of clothes to be stored until they can distributed through the local congregations. We are very grateful for the generosity of all the unpaid volunteers in Britain who gather and pack the goods into containers and to those who kindly donate money and goods, as well as those who staff the charity shop from where the takings help pay for running costs and contribute towards the sending of some containers.
From past experience we know that the goods sent help relieve people living in extreme poverty. Also with these goods, especially the aqua boxes, we have been able to directly help those who have lost their houses either through fire or flooding. The school furniture and school books have helped us to support development of education in all the areas of education run locally by the UCZ in Pre-school, Primary and Secondary. Under-resourced local organisations have also benefited. In the medical field the bedside-lockers are still used and greatly appreciated. The sewing machines will be used to good effect by the Formula Mothers Support Group. They raise a regular income by sewing for Mission Hospital and selling bags and tie-dye clothes and materials to visitors.
There has been a poor harvest this year and we are prescribing food, mainly beans and soya, to those with a body mass of less than 19. The tins of food that were sent will offer a little more variety to the HIV Food Programme. Some tins went on the Outreach Programme.
Last week ZESCO (Electricity Company) arrived and installed our domestic pre-pay meter. They gave us 50 units free as a starter till we could get to Livingstone and have the swipe card activated, so that we can pay for our electricity in advance. So, on Wednesday, from the bank, I next visited ZESCO, to activate the account. This was done and money paid into our account. You receive a till receipt with a number which you punch into your meter which charges it with the number of units you have paid for. Interestingly, in all these developments – the solar panel, inverter, water filter and electric meter; the parts were Chinese-made. At least, our Shanghai Electric Company meters are being assembled in Zambia.
Finally our thanks for clothes parcels from Houston and the ones that came through Mum and Dad. Our next project is the roofing of Magumwi and Kamusa Churches with help from Dornoch.
We realize this can be a quiet time for some churches as the Edinburgh Trades follow the Glasgow Fair and many folk go on holiday. Whether you are going away or staying at home we wish you all joy and peace with a time a good rest and recreation with family and friends.
With our love
Keith, Ida & Mubita
Mwandi UCZ Mission
PO Box 60693