As ELCA Global Mission regional representative in Southern Africa it is a privilege to live and work and walk with companions in this part of the world on your behalf.
In January I participated in the annual Malaria Program Review and Planning meeting which was hosted this year by the Lutheran churches in Zambia. The Lutheran Communion in Southern Africa Regional Malaria Program which is supported by the ELCA Malaria Campaign is operating in five countries in the region. The meeting was attended by malaria field officers from the programs in Zambia, Angola, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. In order to learn from each other and share best practices the group of 22 traveled for five days in a small bus to visit malaria projects in the northwest part of the country known as Zambezi. We met with district and local health officials and visited several congregations in the area. We also met with malaria fieldworkers and malaria activists or volunteers who live and work in congregations and communities there. It is the aim of the program to "improve the health and socio-economic status of the infected and the affected by malaria and the surrounding households by strengthening the capacities of communities and households to prevent, control and manage malaria as well as participate actively in sustainable livelihood promotion initiatives aimed at alleviating the socio-economic impact of the disease."
In one congregation young people had formed a band playing locally made instruments. They played lively songs that conveyed various messages of how to combat malaria. There was also a drama group that enacted a scene promoting rapid diagnosis and treatment within 24 hours of feeling malaria symptoms. In another congregation we were given a demonstration of how rapid testing kits are used to test people who are at risk especially pregnant women and children under the age of five. The reports are that these interventions alongside government health programs are having significant effects in the communities. But clearly there is a need for ongoing education, cooperation, advocacy and support in the fight against malaria, HIV&AIDS, TB and poverty.
In February I represented the ELCA Global Mission at the annual joint mission board meeting of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Mozambique (IELM) along with other partners from Brazil, Germany and Southern Africa.
The meeting was held in Nampula which is in the far north of the country.
There are numerous Lutheran congregations in the area. On the Sunday we traveled on flood damaged roads to the community of Mavuko in the Moma district for a worship service and to participate in the official presentation of a four-wheel drive ambulance to the Sr. Doraci Clinic. The clinic was built by the IELM with support from the ELCA and other partners.
The government provides the clinic staff. The vehicle came as part of the ELCA's Global Mission/World Hunger support for the health ministry of the Lutheran church in Mozambique. Many thanks were expressed to the ELCA and the IELM's partners in mission by the bishop of the IELM J. Mabasso as well as local government and community members.
Thank you for your prayers and continuing support and companionship through the ELCA Missionary Sponsorship program.
May you have a blessed Easter.
ELCA Global Mission
Regional Program Assistant - Southern Africa Johannesburg March 12, 2013