Missio is the Pope’s official charity for overseas mission and brings the hope of the Gospel where there is turmoil, poverty and uncertainty in the world, and where the Church is new, young or poor. In Malawi, the Church is a beacon of hope.
Imagine waking up one morning to find your child is seriously ill. Imagine there is no ambulance, no telephone to call for help and no neighbours nearby. What would you do? Who could you turn to?
Sadly, this is a reality that happens far too often in remote, rural communities. In Lisanjala, Malawi, the only option is to carry your child along miles and miles of dirt tracks to find help.
That’s why the medical clinic in Lisanjala parish is crucial – it provides vital healthcare to the isolated community. In the rainy season this is even more important, as the parish becomes cut off from the rest of the world. That means it’s the only medical aid for all the surrounding villages as well.
With Missio’s support, the Catholic Church provides life-giving spiritual support along with medical care, schools and shelter for those too poor or unfortunate to provide for themselves.
A lifeline clinic when Malaria strikes
Blessing was carried by her mother, Agnes, for two hours to the clinic when she developed a fever. A fever in Malawi can often mean malaria which, if not treated quickly, often kills. The treatment offered, though basic, can make the difference between life and death.
Thankfully for Agnes and Blessing, it was a happy ending; Sr Sonia, who runs the clinic, administered medication to bring down the fever and the simple but nutritious meal of maize, soya and nut porridge meant a quick recovery. Blessing is now back at the nursery, also run by the Sisters.
Many people aren’t so fortunate. Malaria still kills more in sub-Saharan Africa than any other disease – even HIV/AIDS. Fr Charles, the parish priest, recalls a villager who cycled for miles, carrying his sick child. Tragically, it was too late, and his son died before reaching the hospital. But since the Lisanjala clinic has opened there have been no known deaths in the district from the disease.
Since the Lisanjala clinic has opened there have been no known deaths in the district from the disease.
The Church in action – but it needs our help.
The Malawi Church is organised into Small Christian Communities (SCCs), encouraging people to live out their faith in their daily lives. As well as supporting the Church and priest, Lisanjala Parish is responsible for nursery and secondary schools, clinics and training catechists. The Church also runs a feeding clinic for under-fives. A simple meal makes all the difference when hungry children often don’t have the energy to go to school.
Baby Daniel was so seriously malnourished when he was brought to the clinic that he stayed for six days. His mother slept on the concrete floor beside him as he slowly got better. As the clinic has so few resources, it sadly cannot afford to feed the parents of the desperately ill children. If their family can’t provide food, they go hungry.
Practical help and spiritual support
Sr Sonia has achieved plenty in her seven years in Lisanjala – the Church is absolutely central to so much of life in the parish, which now serves up to 15,000 people. Apart from the clinic, which sees 100 people a day, and a nursery, she has organised schemes for local women to learn craft skills which give them the dignity of a modest wage to feed their children.
And, of course, the Church is always there to offer spiritual support; giving all those who need it the strength to deal with life’s challenges, knowing the Lord is always by their side. Sr Sonia strives to help all those around her experience God’s infinite love and mercy and the words of Psalm 33 inspire her to stay strong:
The Lord is our help and our shield. May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.
Although much has been achieved, there is so much more that could be done; the clinic desperately needs expanding. And more and more young children come to the school almost every day – sometimes as many as 700.
Your prayers and donations make all the difference
Please remember our brothers and sisters in Malawi in your prayers, that they may have the strength to deal with life’s daily struggles.
A gift to help people like Sr Sonia working in the poorest parts of the world could transform the lives of little children like Blessing and Daniel by fighting hunger and disease whilst offering spiritual comfort.