Here is the latest update from the new Religious Sisters of Charity mission in Malawi. Sr Rosemary Ng’andu reports on the work that is developing to encourage young people to become involved: “In my last write up I spoke about how men abandon their children and mothers and grandmothers take the burden of looking after the children. It is very a very difficult situation and yet the women accept it as a normal thing and they never complain. The women do the farming, harvesting and go out on the high lorries to go to town to sell their produce. I admire their strength and courage.
After the sale of their produce they get very little profit, most of the money goes on transport. The women put money together to hire a lorry and they are charged a lot of money for this because the road is so bad.
The youth suffer greatly. The Education system is very poor especially in rural areas. Some of the young people may finish Form 4 but because of the lack of school fees and no colleges nearby they stay at home and roam around the village. There are no entertainment facilities and so many young girls become pregnant, especially during the school holidays.
Recently we (the sisters in the community) attended a course in ‘Training for Transformation’ and when we returned we ran a workshop for the youth and their parents. We concentrated on the lack of a Skills Centre for the youth in Konzalendo. Thirty people attended and it went very well. The youth spoke about the need for a Centre where they could get skills to work for themselves or get employment. There was great enthusiasm from both parents and youth to find ways of getting a Skills Centre.
After the workshop a committee was formed to follow-up the workshop’s action plan. They have already seen the Chief who told them that he is going to help. They have also seen the M.P. and the Bishop who will be visiting our parish on the 15th September. The Skills Centre will be for carpentry, sewing, cooking, knitting etc. If this happens in our village it will bring great progress.
Recently we had a parish retreat for youth. We did not want everyone to come since it was on a trial basis. We asked for 20 from Konzalendo and the rest from the outstations to make a total of 100. 74 turned up, others couldn’t come from very far away outstations. For me it was a wonderful experience to see how these young people embraced the situation. A sister from another Congregation, the parish catechist, the parish chairman and I gave talks for the 2 days and we helped them to reflect on what they heard. We will try to get everybody involved next year because the evaluation forms from the youth were very encouraging.
What I have found out since I came here is that it is true – there is more life in giving. I am really being energised by the enthusiasm and the positive responses we are getting from the people here, who want to know more and to better their lives or improve their way of living.
One great thing we can do here is for sisters who are teachers, especially English or Maths teachers, to give a few months to come to Malawi to help. The young people are willing to learn but they have no proper qualified teachers to help them. Please come and help our youth to have a better future!! I have been asking myself this question “Why should these young people spend their lives tilling the land – I feel they deserve a bright future like any of us.
I was looking at the Mandate from our last General Chapter of 2007 ‘Service of the Poor Today’. The last section seems to be speaking to me, especially here in Konzalendo, to take up the challenge of ensuring ‘that those with whom and for whom we work have access to education/training which will enable them to speak and act on their own behalf’. Let us empower the youth of Konzalendo to stand on their own feet!”