International Peacemaker to share need for health services in Malawi

Mphatso Nguluwe working to ensure an HIV-free generation, enhance youth development

By Scott O’Neill | Presbyterian News Service

Mphatso Nguluwe (Photo provided)

LOUISVILLE – You might think raising 10 adopted children as a single parent would be its own full-time job.

For most it would be, but not for Mphasto Nguluwe. A nurse by profession, she somehow balances her prodigious parental duties with being Director for the Church of Central Africa, Presbyterian (CCAP) Livingstonia Synod Aids Program (LISAP). LISAP implements initiatives that promote quality of life for children living with HIV and whose goal is to ensure an HIV-free generation. As director, she heads three hospitals and 12 health facilities in the Synod’s catchment area. She works with a staff of more than 600 who serve about 1 million Malawians in remote locations. Nguluwe will speak to U.S. congregations and organizations this fall as part of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program’s 2017 International Peacemakers series.

Nguluwe will be sharing stories of Malawi and its health services shortages, HIV/AIDS prevalence, and how the church supports childhood development in her small African country. Malawi is one of the least-developed countries in Africa; it boasts an agricultural economy and 85 percent of its population resides in rural areas. Many Malawians live below the poverty line, some lack even basic human needs. In this environment providing comprehensive, high-quality health services is challenging under the best of circumstances, but an ineffective government strains that capability even further.

“Health services are often inaccessible in areas hard to reach, but even in relatively accessible areas we lack basics such as drugs, ambulance and transportation services, blood pressure machines, and clean water and sanitation facilities,” said Nguluwe. “We also lack appropriate staffing because there is a government ban on recruitment of health personnel due to lack of money.”

CCAP is the largest Protestant denomination in Malawi, and it’s helping Nguluwe and her colleagues address the health services shortage in several ways.

“The church has started health services in hard-to-reach areas where the government is not able to provide for,” she said. “They also train local communities on how to be self-sustaining, and there are departments working through the church to address HIV, poverty and child-marriage issues.”

Nguluwe will also share some success stories with her U.S. audience when she visits next month. She’s involved in rescuing children under 10 years old from forced marriage, helping to send them back to school. She works with children living with HIV, and has been able to reduce deaths by nearly 90 percent. The PC(USA) and Presbyterian Women have also been a factor in supporting Malawi youth.

“Through the Thank You offering we work to address childhood and youth development,” said Nguluwe. “The main goal of the project is to reduce children’s vulnerability by improving their livelihood and general health through empowering church committees and families.”

Nguluwe is one of 15 peacemakers who will be visiting churches and institutions across the U.S. between Sept. 22 and Oct. 16.  According to Carl Horton, coordinator for the Peacemaking Program, there are currently dates available to host the Rev. Jerome Baris from the Philippines (Sept. 22–29 and Oct. 11–16), Herman Kumara from Sri Lanka (Oct. 2–9), and the Rev. Manh Khac Nguyen of Vietnam (Sept. 22–28 and Oct. 9–16). Click here to apply to host a 2017 International Peacemaker.

The International Peacemaking Program is made possible by gifts to the Peace and Global Witness Offering.

Scott O’Neill is a communications associate for the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

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