The Revd Richard Tucker's visit to Malawi

May 2013

This was my fifth visit to Malawi, to the Lake, Upper Shire and Southern Malawi Dioceses. More than any previous one, it was in the nature of a multi-purpose business visit.

For an assessment of the state of the nation, please see Canon Paul Wilson’s report of his October 2012 trip. Since Paul visited, the southern and lakeshore areas have suffered severe flooding: I saw bridges down and a school classroom block that had lost its roof.

In Nkhotakota I visited Linga Anglican Primary School. I brought some chairs that had come on the most recent container - see first photo. I visited a group of teachers’ houses that badly need renovation - their condition varies from poor to squalid. With the help of St Michael’s Boldmere and, I hope, other Birmingham sources, we want to improve them to current Malawian standard, putting in metal door frames and concrete lintels, enlarging tiny windows that have mostly lost their glass, taking interior walls only built part height up to roof height. The back blocks are all in disrepair - they will be knocked down and a kitchen/shower room/ toilet/store room block built. Please see photos. Could you help please? Could your church or organisation sponsor a house? Details from Richard.

I purchased and transported 42 bags of cement for the floor of a new church being built by local labour in Mtonda, a village at the southern end of Lake Malawi.

At the theological college in Zomba we discussed how to drive forward the project to build a large student accommodation block there for renting out to students of the neighbouring university [see Paul Wilson’s report]. We also discussed ways of financing members of the teaching staff to get higher degrees.

The Living Bread Organisation is a small charity supported by St Chad’s Sutton Coldfield that helps AIDS orphans: I saw its work in the Zomba area. AIDS orphans are a huge challenge in Malawi, as the parental generation is the most severely affected and often, both parents succumb. Many children are looked after by uncles or aunts; LBO helps those living with grandparents or supervised by neighbours who cannot afford to support them.

I visited projects in the Blantyre area run by Agnes Mkoko, aimed particularly at teaching women self-reliance skills in a country far too poor to afford any welfare state. At one of them she’s developing a remote community as a model village and they have been given a tube well with a pump. They have a nursery school using tables and chairs sent from Birmingham.

During my visit I had very useful talks with Bishop Francis of Lake Malawi and Bishop Brighton of Upper Shire. In Lilongwe I attended a well-supported fundraising breakfast for the Diocese of Lake Malawi and had good discussions with Fr Frank Dzantenge, the Diocesan Projects Officer. In Blantyre I met the diocesan team of Southern Malawi, who briefed me on the full range of the Diocese’s activities.

I worshipped at Fr Frank Dzantenge’s church in Lilongwe and Fr Alinafe Kalemba’s church in Chilimba, Blantyre, and had the chance to speak about the Birmingham Partnership. In Blantyre I also enjoyed the generous hospitality of Canon James Kalaile, the diocesan registrar, and his wife Mary.

Richard Tucker

Teachers houses - a blocked up window
An infant class of 100 at Linga Primary School the lucky ones are sitting on chairs from Birmingham
A clay cooking oven is demonstrated in a village near Blantyre
A bag of cement is unloaded at Mtonda
Cracks in wall and clear signs of termite activity
R Tucker blesses the children at Chirimba, Blantyre
Outbuildings ripe for demolition
A grandmother with AIDS orphans in a village near Zomba
The beautiful carving My God is able presented to Richard at Mtonda