It is 10 years now that my church, Caversham Heights Methodist Church in Reading has been twinned with the United Church of Zambia church and school in Mindolo in the Copperblet region. We have had several exchanges of personnel and, among other things, have been delighted to pay the salaries of staff at the Race Course Community School there.
Recently, our Minister, the Revd Dermot Thornberry, and his wife Charlene have visited to assess the needs of the Mindolo community with a view to working out the best way for us to continue our help in the future. This is their initial report -
"Imagine being used to a certain comforting smell and then suddenly it is not there!
Imagine being used to a familiar voice and then suddenly it is not there!
Imagine being fed by a warm body and then suddenly this is also taken away from you.
You are only 4 months old you no longer have your mother,
Your mother has died of HIV AIDS and life has suddenly become very very unpleasant.
You experience fear.
"This is just one of the many sad stories we encountered on our trip to Mindolo Community Zambia. Children are losing their parents to AIDS and grandparents are having to step in and attempt to bring up their grandchildren. Money is scarce and there is no help from the state. The United Church of Zambia in Mindolo does what it can to aid these struggling families but the church coffers are bare. Poverty abounds in Zambia. Death and disease are constant companions.
"However, at the Race Course Community School there was a glimmer of hope when we visited. The children at the school are so keen to learn. There are 1800 pupils and each class has three sessions. Well in advance of each session starting the children are already lining up to go to their classes. The children are polite and well mannered and it was a pleasure to be with them. The teachers are all voluntary and although they are very well qualified and can easily be employed in paid positions they feel called to teach at this community school.
£It is now 10 years since the twinning project began between Caversham Heights Methodist Church and the Mindolo community along with the Race Course Community School. Dermot and I were part of the celebrations which culminated in a three hour church service. There were choirs, there was a Girls Brigade inauguration, there was a fantastic Boys Brigade brass band, there was much singing and dancing. The Zambian community were so happy to have us there! It was a very humbling experience as we encountered warm greetings and much hospitality. For us it was wonderful to be back in Africa and to be able to feel at home with the culture, the vibe and the people.
"10 years is a very long time for a twinning project to survive. However, encountering the severe needs of the people has convinced us that this project must continue. The Zambian people need our help, they need our support and they need our love.
Please pray for the people of Mindolo in Zambia.