Report on Mission Trip - August 2012
MY MISSION TRIP TO MALAWI AND TANZANIA, AFRICA
By Dick Couch
This trip started on 4/19/12 with our arrival on Likoma Island in Malawi. According to UNICEF there are 1 million orphans in this country that is noted to be one of the poorest nations in the world. Here, we found a fuel shortage which created an electricity outage and no fuel supply for the gas stations. Bob Priest, co-founder of 'True Awakening' (a non profit corporation formed to assist in African charitable work, primarily for feeding orphans) and I met Fanuel Manganani, Anglican Bishop of the Diocese of Northern Malawi. He was our guide for the four days we visited his Parish consisting of remote villages in Northern Malawi. After a 5 1/2 hour sail across Lake Malawi to the mainland on a boat resembling The African Queen, we visited the Msomba Primary Boarding School to witness their feeding program provided by ‘True Awakening’. This school has 520 pupils with most of them identified as orphans. The children supply their own plates and eat with their hands while sitting on the dirt in a shady spot. After this feeding we gave the girls sun dresses that were made and donated by women of the Ft.Worth Anglican Diocese.
We stayed at St Mary's Convent the three nights we were in the Mzuzu area. Here we purchased African woodcraft at the Nkhata Bay Market that will be auctioned off in Ft. Worth. The proceeds of this auction will be used to put a roof on St. Marks’ church in Mzuzu. We visited the Chiwowa Chisala Demonstration Garden which was formed to teach soil conservation, compost making, agroforestry, crop diversification and rotation. The intent of this program is to teach the population how to be agriculturally self sustainable. We visited the auto shop which supports the vehicles of the Diocese. The mechanic there had very crude and basic tools. With his list of needs in hand, we took him to some automotive supply stores in Mzuzu and bought him many of the tools he most needed on this list. On returning to his shop he immediately put on his coveralls, smile and started working on the much needed repairs! In addition we visited a print shop where they were trying to start up which would supply printed material for the churches needs. Traveling to these different areas consisted of 2 to 4 hour journeys’, one way, in a Land Rover through and to remote areas and villages over unpaved, washboard, pot hole riddled roads. Along the roads in Malawi and Tanzania you see literally thousands of people walking, bicycling or riding in ox driven carts. The majority of the population is poor and cannot afford any other means of transportation. There are goats, sheep, cattle, burros, chickens, etc. everywhere along the road and with each separate herd there are at least 2 Shepherds, some looked to be as young as maybe 6 or 8 years old. In spite of all this, these people love God and appear very happy.
Bishop Manganani drove us the 6 hour road trip from Mzuzu to Lilongwe where we spent the night in order to make our early morning flight to Nairobi, Kenya. After spending the night in Kenya we flew to Mwanza, Tanzania. We then took the 80 mile (3hrs) bus trip from Mwanza to Shinyanga to meet Charles Ngusa the Bishop of the Shinyanga District, our guide for the next 4 days. We stayed 3 nights in Mwadui at The Williamson Diamond Mine (an active mine since 1940). After a 3 hour ride in Bishop Ngusa’ Land Rover over unpaved roads through remote villages and very fertile countryside with rice paddies, sugar cane, cotton and maize fields, we arrived at the Bariadi School to witness their dailey orphan feeding provided by ‘True Awakening’. This school is in a building with dirt floors, open windows with no panes, (Not much different than the homes they live in) wooden benches, and two blackboards. As there were no books these children recited or group sang their lessons which they were doing when we arrived. We visited the St. Mary's Clinic in Solwa, where we gave them 50 lbs. of medicines donated by doctors in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. This clinic was built by the Ft.Worth Anglican Diocese. At the clinic they had a grand opening for a water line dug by ‘True Awakening’ to supply water for the school and the village. This line connects to the mainline that runs 100 miles from Lake Victoria. I felt very honored when they asked me to cut the ribbon and turn the water on for the first time. We witnessed another feeding at the Compassion School in Shinyanga which teaches basic lessons and feeds approximately 500 children. "True Awakening' has been involved with this since 2007. On our last day, 4/27/12, we caught the bus for a three hour ride back to Mwanza where we met Boniface Kwangu the Bishop of Victoria Nyanza. With him we witnessed the daily feeding program of teenage orphans that live on the streets in the city of Mwanza, the second largest city in Tanzania. This feeding is also provided by ‘True Awakening’. That day there were about 26 individuals that were being fed. These children live in abject poverty with no means of support or protection. They fend for themselves and survive by begging for food and water, stealing, eating garbage and hoping for a lost or discarded garment to wear.
This mission trip was a 'true awakening' for me, to say the least! Seeing the endless breathtaking beauty of the cities, towns, and villages of Malawi and Tanzania, smelling the odors of the "fires of a thousand villages", and viewing the faces of those innocent vulnerable orphans will linger in my mind for the rest of my life. There are over 3 million orphans in Malawi and Tanzania and this number is growing. Most are orphaned by AIDS which has effectively wiped out a generation of their African parents. ‘True Awakening’s focus is to feed these orphans a simple and basic meal of rice and beans. To these children, it is a glorious feast!
All of these programs mentioned above, in which ‘True Awakening’ is involved, can not come to fruition……without help!
For more information please contact us at info@TruAwakening.com