Mission Sunday, 23 October 2022
World Mission Day is an opportunity for us to recall that as Christians, we are all called to act as missionaries and to be witnesses of God’s love for each person. In that spirit, Pope Francis wrote his Message for this year’s World Mission Day on the theme “You shall be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8). Recently, on the occasion of World Food Day, he emphasized that “we [should] see others as our brothers and sisters, as members of the same human family, whose sufferings and needs affect us all”.
I once again spent the summer in Zambia. Nothing in Zambia bears any resemblance to Europe, and the everyday luxuries that we are used to are absent. Seeing such abject poverty and yet feeling such immense love and joy almost defies belief for us Westerners, since everything in the western world is measured based on material possessions. It is only when you are here that you can see how much material wealth we have, but unfortunately, we often can’t see this and we don’t know how to appreciate it, nor do we feel the need to share it. The difficulty and complexity of the situation in Zambia is evidenced by the fact that this year, the mission and the entire region experienced an outbreak of a scabies epidemic. Unfortunately, we did not have any medications to treat the disease, and the situation that was already difficult was further exacerbated by thousands of flies, which are everywhere and which cause additional infections. The flies covered literally the entire bodies of infected children and adults, since scratching causes wounds to open, and that attracts flies.
World Mission Day encourages us to pray every day for humility of heart, so that we would be counted as the least among us, as stated in the Gospels, and for vision of faith, which will help us recognize the face of Jesus in the poor and the suffering every day. Pope Francis reminds us that “no one must say that they cannot be close to the poor because their own lifestyle demands more attention to other areas. This is an excuse commonly heard in academic, business or professional, and even ecclesial circles… None of us can think we are exempt from concern for the poor and for social justice.” /6th World Day of the Poor/
1. The Livingstone students’ residence
The Livingstone students’ residence opened three years ago. It houses 30 poor students, which is the maximum capacity of the residence. Each student has a sponsor that pays their annual college tuition, since there is no free education offered in Zambia. The annual tuition for a single student is between 500 and 600 euros, depending on their chosen course of studies. In the residence, we cultivate an ecumenical perspective. Some of our students are Catholics, some are Anglicans, others are Protestants, but they study, work and pray together. Since there are many students who want to receive a place at our residence, the construction of another house is planned for the purpose of increasing the capacity of the students’ residence.
2. Students’ residence in the Nawinda mission
A few days ago in the Nawinda mission, we started building the second house of our student residence complex. When construction of the house is completed, it will be named after Blessed Carlo Acutis, who passed away at the age of 15 and was beatified by Pope Francis in 2020. The first house in the complex, which houses 50 boys, was completed and opened last year. The house which we are currently building will house 50 high school girls. The goal and purpose of this project is to advocate the availability of education and healthcare for all girls, whose rights are under threat, and to encourage everyone to join the fight against discrimination, violence, arranged child marriages and other forms of oppression which girls face on a daily basis. By completing this project, we want to ensure that children in the poorest areas of Zambia have access to education and the opportunity to have a peaceful and happy childhood. The amount of 100 euros is sufficient to cover the annual costs of supporting one child. This year, we hired Mr. Inocent Siabenza to work full time as the animator and to manage the residence and take care of the children who live in it. Inocent has gained considerable experience in his eight years of work with our missionary, father Boris Dabo, who has been active in Zambia for 40 years.
3. Some fruits of our labour
In the period since our scholarship programme for students was initiated (some five or six years ago), some students have completed their studies and are now working as teachers, nurses, engineers… I am particularly pleased by the fact that nurse Justina Mebelo, whose education was paid for through our programme, returned to Nawinda after graduating from nursing school and started working in our clinic this year. I am likewise truly grateful for the new vocation in our mission. Matthias Sitati joined the seminary this year – he will become a priest in a few years, God willing.
I wish to thank everyone who follows, supports and aids the work of the Heart for Zambia Foundation. None of what we have accomplished in Zambia would have been possible without good and kind-hearted people.