OUTREACH: VISIT FROM YOUTHCARE MINISTRIES - APRIL 28
YOUTHCARE MINISTRIES' GOMEZ CHIRWA VISITS ST. MARGARET'S CHURCH, PLAINVIEW, NY., ON APRIL 28, 2019
YOUTHCARE MINISTRIES IN MALAWI
Greetings! I am very excited about coming to St. Margaret’s and meeting you all on Sunday, April 28. My beautiful wife, Nanyemba has told me much about you and about her time at St. Margaret’s in 2018. As you may recall, Nanyemba and I were married in my home country of Malawi in Africa on Dec. 8, 2018.
My full name is Gomezgani Jackson Chirwa, but my friends call me Gomez. I am now doing missionary work with YouthCare Ministries in Malawi, and serve as Executive Director. In 2012, I received a B.A. in Christian Education from African Bible College, and in 2016, I earned my M.A. in Organizational Leadership from Eastern University, outside of Philadelphia.
My work involves managing programs, fundraising
and human resources. YouthCare Ministries was established in 2003 to reach the orphaned street children of Lilongwe, the capital city of Malawi.
Besides the burden of overwhelming poverty, Malawi’s inhabitants are being ravaged by the growing pandemic of HIV/AIDS, which has infected an estimated 16% of the total population. Our seven areas of focus are: Orphan Care, Afterschool Programs, Summer Camps, a High School, HealthCare, Sponsorship Program and Youth/Girls’ Empowerment Programs.
Our mission is to enhance the lives of at-risk urban youth by equipping them with the tools necessary for academic excellence (life skills, spiritual growth and leadership capacity), while meeting their basic needs.
I look forward to meeting each and every one of you on April 28. Have a blessed Easter!
~ Gomez Chirwa
MORE 2019 INTERNATIONAL OUTREACH NEWS
GREETINGS FROM ZAMBIA (April 1, 2019)
Greetings to you all, my St. Margaret’s family! Last year I married my best friend Gomezgani Chirwa, whom you will all meet in a few weeks. He is a wonderful man and I am so blessed to have him in my life. My husband and I still live apart in different countries. Plans are underway for us to move in together. Please pray for us. I wanted to share a little about how Easter looks on this side of the ocean (Zambia).
Zambia is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. Our population is estimated at 18.14 million, of whom 85.5% are Christians; 1.1% are Muslims; and 13.4% are indigenous religions, including Bahai, Hindus, etc. Zambia was declared a Christian nation in 1996 while upholding the right of every person to enjoy their freedom of conscience and religion. This was in an amendment to our constitution, which initially did not specify anything on religion.
Christians commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ by taking time to preach love, forgiveness and reconciliation. It is an important period on the Christian calendar when all believers across different denominations commemorate the death and Resurrec-tion of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who was crucified on the cross. During this period, churches are a hive of activity as Christians relive Jesus Christ’s journey to Calvary. Believers start the commemoration on Good Friday, the day Jesus died after torture and subsequent crucifixion. Prior to this many Christians pray and fast. Then on Good Friday, Christians wear white clothes and get up at 5 a.m. to go to church and celebrate the Resurrection! Prayers are conducted and the Resurrect-ion story is told. These practices reach their peak on Easter Sunday. There is singing, drumming and dancing as Christians celebrate the hope of eternal life.
ACTION FOR CHILDREN:
I also wanted to share that I have been serving children from the streets at Action For Children Zambia (AFCZ) where I help them with reading as well as counseling. Recently I was trained by Catholic Relief services in a concept called “Singing to the Lions.” This program was developed to help children who have experienced fear and violence in their lives. And most of the street children we serve have experienced a lot of fear and violence in their lives. I teach them the causes and consequences of violence; techniques to calm themselves in times of crisis; how to increase their inner strength and awareness; how to identify who to go to for answers and guidance; and most importantly how to let go of their fear. It’s been amazing to see how these children are learning to be open to things they have not been able to share with anyone. The kids are being equipped to develop the necessary skills to resolve the impact of violence and abuse in their lives … and to heal. Please keep these children in your heart and in your prayers.
I wish everyone a blessed Easter!
~ Nanyemba Hamahuwa Chirwa
EASTER IN MALAWI
Of the estimated 18 million people in Malawi, 85% identify as Christians, 10% identify as Muslims, and the remaining 5% practice African religions. The Roman Catholic Church has great following, seconded by Presbyterian churches then Adventist and Pentecostal churches. Easter is celebrated differently in each denomination, but there are two major similarities.
First, most churches have two church services on Sundays, but on Easter there is usually just one service. In most cases, on Easter eve, most of these churches will have overnight prayers from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m. This special evening is full of praise and worship songs, sermons, and sharing of bread.
Secondly, national prayers are conducted by the different denominations, including Catholics, Baptists, Presbyterians and Pentecostals. Christians from all walks of life take part in a five-hour walk called “Njira ya mtanda” (The Way of the Cross).
The person chosen to carry a wooden cross demonstrates Christ’s suffering as the rest of the faithful wave palms, pray and sing. After this big walk, the people meet at one place for Easter worship and praise.
~ Gomez Chirwa
ARCHIVE 2018 OUTREACH ZAMBIA
- MAY 1, 2018
NEW LITERACY PROGRAM UNDERWAY
IN LUKASA, ZAMBIA!
Warm greetings from Zambia to my St. Margaret’s family! It’s always wonderful to see pictures of you on social media; you are 1,000 miles away and yet so close in my heart.
I am happy to announce that the books that were shipped from America to Zambia in November 2017 have finally arrived! It took a long time for them to get here but when they did, there was great celebration. There is so much need for these books!
I am now working part-time for Action for Children Zambia. This organization finds and provides a home for children who live on the streets. I was hired to do administrative, financial and grant-writing work, but I have since introduced reading as a fun activity for our children. They truly love to read! The kids are fascinated by the great pictures and have so many questions. I love seeing their faces light up with excitement at receiving these precious gifts.We are so happy and thankful for the role St. Margaret’s Church has played in making these books available. It’s amazing that a book can bring so much happiness to a child’s life.
Generosity takes many forms – you don’t need to be physically present to make someone’s day. Love and kindness can be expressed by sharing simple things like books. Can you imagine how your life would have been without a single book? As Frederick Douglass said, “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”
Thank you, dear friends, for your prayers, love and support. We want to be able to touch more kids’ lives through the sharing of books.
On a personal note, a lot has happened since my last update. As you already know, I accepted Gomez’s (surprise!) marriage proposal in December. Our families have now met, and the wedding is set for Dec. 8, 2018. After marriage negotiations, the man is charged a bride price, known as “lobola” in our local language. The lobola can be paid before or after the wedding, depending on when the man’s family has the money. In my culture, the bride price is five cows, or money equivalent to five cows (our wealth is measured in cattle). Once the man’s family is told how much to pay for lobola, wedding preparations begin.
Before the wedding, I’ll have another ceremony. On Oct. 27 (my 28thbirthday!) friends and family will give me kitchen utensils or money toward building a kitchen. This is a festive time as the community comes together and shows support. It has some aspects of an American bridal shower. One difference is that my fiancé will arrive at a certain time during the ceremony to give me a present and unveil me in the presence of my family and friends. Then we have feasting, drumming and dancing. The drumming and dancing are our favorite parts! This ceremony is mainly attended by women who share their marriage wisdom with the bride – it’s a time for great rejoicing.
~ Sending my love to all, Nanyemba Hamahuwa
ARCHIVE 2017 OUTREACH ZAMBIA, AFRICA
INTERNATIONAL OUTREACH UPDATES - ZAMBIA
DECEMBER 1, 2017
Dorothy Nanyemba Hamahuwa is happy to announce that 1,000 books collected by St. Margaret’s and friends are on their way to Zambia. Dorothy is grateful to our Outreach Committee and everyone who helped take steps toward creating the first-ever library in her hometown of Macha! Dorothy will be returning to Zambia on Dec. 15, but she expects to return to the U.S. late next summer. We have been blessed by her presence and look forward to hearing about her literacy project
OCTOBER 2017 - GREETINGS FROM A NEW MEMBER
Dorothy Nanyemba Hamahuwa
In my country of Zambia, it’s normal to have two first names: one in English and one in our local language. My name is Dorothy Nanyemba Hamahuwa. I’ll be 27 on Oct. 27th. Zambia is a landlocked country in the southern part of Africa. Its neighbors are: Democratic Republic of Congo, Namibia, Botswana, Tanzania, Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe and Malawi. Our capital is called Lusaka, and that’s where the major businesses are located.
I am the youngest of three children. My sister is 31 and my brother is 28. We were all educated via church sponsorships and other nonprofit organizations working to uplift the lives of Zambia’s orphans and vulnerable children. I did not have the privilege of enjoying life with my birth parents, because God called them home when I was about 5 years old. The responsibility of raising my siblings and me was given to extended family members. Various relatives shepherded us, so I lived in many places. Each move involved going to a new church. Because I was a dependent, the choice of what church to attend was not up to me. I believe that constantly having to adapt to new surroundings was influential in shaping my life. It gave me the strength to always be willing to step outside my comfort zone and find friends in unfamiliar places.
Coming to America and leaving everything that was familiar to me was the biggest transition I ever experienced. Everything here is so different, and I had a lot of culture shock at first. In time, I internalized American culture, but I have not forgotten my own culture.
After I graduated Macha Girls Secondary School (high school), I was among the few students to be offered a government scholarship at the University of Zambia. I earned a B.A. in Public Administration and minored in Development Studies. I then had an opportunity to serve in my community at “Push the Rock Zambia,” as an after-school program assistant director. Push the Rock is a nonprofit that uses sports and athletic instruction to bring children to the knowledge of Christ. My desire has always been to find a platform to be able to give back to my community.
After less than a year, I came to the United States to pursue my Masters in Organizational Leadership at Eastern University in Philadelphia. This program is designed to deepen Christian faith and its thinking, and boost leadership skills needed in the complex non-profit sector.
While at Push the Rock Zambia, I observed how most of the children were struggling to read and to communicate effectively. I saw the need to begin a reading program to help children who were struggling to read, or who had the desire to read but lacked the resources and materials.
Here in the U.S., I have spoken with individuals, churches and private organizations about the challenge of illiteracy in my community, and how the reading program would be of benefit to children. In July, with the help of friends who supported my project by donating books and contributing funds for shipping, I sent 650 children’s books to Zambia. Currently, I now have 1,089 books that need to be shipped. My goal is to have the first-ever community library in Macha, Zambia.
The Brethren in Christ Church, where my uncle was a member, served the community I grew up in. As he was my guardian, I had to belong to that church, too. The church is about 107 years old. Many missionaries from Europe come to serve in its hospital, nursing school and high schools surrounding the local community. Sunday service usually lasts from 10:30 a.m. to about 1-2 p.m., depending how long the preacher takes to finish sharing the message. The hymns are sung in the local language (Tonga). Each week, usually 4 or 5 choir groups perform songs, with drumming and dancing for the Lord. Newcomers are readily welcomed. They are invited to go up front to introduce themselves, share where they are from, and say how long they are visiting. Before the service at 8 a.m., there are baptisms (if any), plus Holy Communion and foot washing In Zambia, church service can be a whole-day event! The message is preached in English but there is an interpreter who translates it into the local language. Sunday is always a special day because people leave their busy lives in order to be intentional in building community, and building relationships among people with Christ at the center.
I am truly enjoying my time at St. Margaret’s, and I look forward to singing a traditional Zambian worship song for you at an upcoming service.