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Working together for literacy

 

Synod of Blantyre partners with congregation in New Orleans to help families in Malawi

By Debbie Braaksma | Mission Crossroads Magazine

PC(USA) mission co-worker Nancy Collins, back row on left, visited with teacher Miriam Gondwe, back row on right, and students in the Muliko Literacy Project in Mangochi, Malawi. Chancy Gondwe

LOUISVILLE – Nelson Mandela once wrote, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” People in Mangochi, Malawi, know this is true, as they have watched their community be transformed by the Muliko Literacy Project.  

Established by Chancy and Miriam Gondwe in 2014, the Muliko Literacy Project seeks to improve the 47 percent literacy rate of the predominantly Muslim community of Mangochi. The Gondwes are community development professionals and committed Church of Central Africa Presbyterian members. Chancy received training from Literacy and Evangelism International in Tulsa. God gave the Gondwes a clear vision for literacy work in Mangochi, where they have used literacy as a tool for evangelism, spiritual growth and sustainable development for the people of Malawi.

The project trains volunteer teachers who want to start literacy programs. Muliko also tutors children after school, conducts child evangelism through an after-school Good News Club and operates a preschool that generates income. 

When the people of St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church (SCAPC) in New Orleans heard about the literacy project, they wanted to support it. They approached me with a unique challenge. SCAPC requested that donations go through World Mission, which works with partner churches and ecumenical organizations. Since the Muliko Literacy Project was not a World Mission partner, I suggested that Muliko inquire about affiliating with the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian, Blantyre Synod (with which it had ties). If the synod agreed, World Mission would be happy to send support received for the literacy project through the synod. As PC(USA) regional liaison for east central Africa, Nancy Collins assisted the congregation and the synod in working out the details of such an affiliation.

On a visit to see results of the Muliko Literacy Project in April 2017, Nancy was extremely impressed with the Gondwes and the program. She spoke with the Rev. Alex Maulana, general secretary of the CCAP Blantyre Synod. A memorandum of understanding was developed in July 2017. Now support for the literacy project can be designated for Muliko and sent through World Mission and CCAP channels.

As Presbyterians we believe we are better together. We are a connectional church. Because Muliko is now connected to Blantyre Synod, there is a pathway for best practices of this dynamic program to be shared with the synod to plant seeds for similar connections. And, very significantly, this program is now accountable to the Malawian church, not to foreign donors, which is the case when programs from abroad are sponsored by U.S. churches directly. And because St. Charles Presbyterian Church is connected to World Mission, Nancy Collins accompanies the program, enabling us to share stories like this with the greater church and inviting us to pray for the work of Muliko. Also as a result of this partnership, the Gondwes plan to start five additional adult literacy classes in five villages in Mangochi rural areas, targeting 100 people, mostly women, and impacting thousands of lives.

The Rev. Debbie Braaksma is Presbyterian World Mission’s Africa area coordinator. Literacy: to support the Muliko Literacy Project, make a gift to pcusa.org/donate/e864823 (designate it for “Muliko Literacy”)

This article appeared in the Fall 2018 issue of Mission Crossroads magazine, which is printed and mailed free to subscribers homes three times a year by Presbyterian World Mission.


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