Sneak preview! This is an article that is slated for the January synod newsletter of the Northeastern Iowa Synod. It tells of a visit to the synod last weekend by Bishop Ambrose Moyo, a Zimbabwean who serves as an ELCA missionary in southern Africa. The article was written by Marcia Hahn, synod communicator, Many thanks to Marcia for allowing us to post this sneak preview of her January article!
Bishop Ambrose Moyo, former presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe, visited the Northeastern Iowa Synod in December to share some of his first-hand experiences about malaria in Africa and how the ELCA Malaria Campaign is making a difference. He gave presentations at Nazareth, Cedar Falls; Wartburg College, Waverly; and Washington Prairie, Decorah.
Currently, Bishop Moyo serves as the facilitator for Accompaniment and Capacity Building in Zimbabwe and Southern Africa through the Global Mission Unit of the ELCA. He shared how the ELCA Global Mission staff gathered and started talking with people from Mozambique who told them that what they need most was a clinic. The ELCA people listened, and together we opened a clinic there in 2009.
In another part of Mozambique, a mother came into an orphan program, pleading on behalf of the orphan she was keeping at home as his guardian. She asked for prayers for the child who was very sick. Moyo and the group prayed for him and then organized transportation to take him to the clinic, which was about 30 miles away. The ELCA decided anther clinic was needed, and now they have it in a town called Munene.
Bishop Moyo told about a school in Burure, Zimbabwe, with about 1,000 students. Every year between five and seven children who attend the school would die of malaria. Then a clinic was built, with mosquito nets, education and medical treatment available for the people of the village. This year, for the first time, no child died of malaria.
Malaria is the number one problem in Zimbabwe, followed by water, then the distance to clinics. Moyo said that people are carried to clinics on carts drawn by donkeys or oxen. They are already very sick, and the roads are very bad. Many people die on the way to the hospital. The ELCA has responded by building clinics that have brought treatment and prevention programs closer to the people.
Through the ELCA companion relationship, Moyo said that God is speaking to both organizations to work together and begin malaria programs that will save lives. That effort started in 2010 at the grassroots levels, with the church training and identifying focal persons who are nurses or who have been trained as health care workers. Those people become the coordinators in each country, going out and leading workshops in the communities to make sure everyone understands that malaria is preventable. They train others about the proper use of mosquito nets, the benefits of indoor spraying, and the need to eliminate standing water where mosquitoes breed. “These are things people did not understand in the past,” Moyo said.
No other organization in these countries is as connected as the churches, which Moyo said are almost everywhere. Most of the best hospitals in Zimbabwe and Mozambique are church run, and because they are run so well, Moyo said that the government is supplying some funding. To raise money for a clinic in Zimbabwe, the government has committed to matching one-to-one any funds raised to bring electricity to the clinic.
“The church is very highly respected by the community and by the politicians,” Moyo said. “The church is in places where no one else goes.”
Moyo said that the work being done here in Iowa may feel small, but in Southern Africa, the effects are very big. “We really appreciate you walking with us,” Moyo said. “We see the ELCA as the hands and feet of our Lord Jesus Christ, inspiring a lot of hope. We hope that together we can make an impact, and change lives.”