Bishop Martin Anwel Mtumbuka of the Diocese of Karonga has encouraged Catholics to seek God’s guidance in their choice of vocations.
Bishop Mtumbuka made these remarks on Vocations Sunday when he presided over the closing of the annual workshop of Catechists at St Mary’s Parish in Karonga.
In his homily, Bishop Mtumbuka, whose reflection centred on Christ the Good Shepherd, made a number of indications regarding vocations. He emphasized that being a Catechist in the Church is a special vocation.
The Bishop urged all Christians to pray for God’s guidance to have a better choice of vocation which will in turn help them and others to inherit eternal life. He further said that all vocations harmonize us all as we journey towards God.
Turning to families, the Bishop said all vocations emerge from families and as such it is important for families to be exemplary in all spheres so that the youth under the guidance of God can ably choose a better vocation.
Finally, the Bishop urged all faithful to actively participate in assisting the seminarians and also to uphold the catechists so that Christ’s evangelization mission is sustained.
During the same function, the Bishop announced that the Diocese of Karonga will receive a gift of three Deacons in May and one Priest in July this year.
The Justice and Peace Desk of Karonga Diocese has called for community feedback on annual approved budget and adopted District Implementation Plan (DIP) for health sector.
Speaking during Mukuti Wuli program on Tuntufye Radio, CCJP Officer said limited understanding of the budget cycle and lack of information of approved annual budget and adopted DIP brings a lot of suspicion on how health sector activities are executed and how funds are spent.
“We acknowledge the shortage of funding in the health sector but if the information is not disclosed, people will remain suspicious,” said Vincent Bwinga.
He added that since District Health Offices are cost centres for all health facilities, they have to improve on transparency and accountability by engaging the community in the budgets process and keep them updated by providing feedback.
The officer also reminded the community members and the general public that, it is their right to have a greater voice in the budgeting process by bringing their needs and issues to the attention of policymakers and thereafter demand for feedback on their input and impact.
Willy Kanyika who is the District Environmental Health Officer for Chitipa acknowledged the information gap. He said the health sector budget cycle is very clear and straight forward but due to limited funds some steps are skipped.
“We are given a very limited annual expenditure ceiling which cannot support some the activities in the budget cycle,” said Kanyika.
Kanyika further said that the district hospital relies on Councillors and health facility persons-in-charge because they are consulted in the process. He said it was unfortunate that the information is not relayed to community members. He promised to improve on the feedback through the facility in-charge so that people are updated.
The government approved annual budget of 177 million Kwacha for Chitipa District in the 2017/18 Financial Year but it has been adjusted downwards to 168 million Kwacha.
The radio program was organized by Justice and Peace Desk of Karonga Diocese with funding from Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) on “Promotion of High Quality, Accountable and Responsive Public Health Services Project.
Cases of domestic violence are said to have been reduced in the area of Traditional Authority Mwirang’ombe in Karonga District due to the introduction of the Community Based Educators who provide civic education to community members as volunteers under the Primary Justice project.
The project is being implemented in the area through Karonga Diocese of the Catholic Church in partnership with the office the District Commissioner.
Speaking to Tuntufye FM, Senior Traditional Authority Mwirang’ombe said primary justice has helped enormously to combat the vice in his area.
Mwirang’ombe explained that through primary justice, minor cases are now being referred to traditional courts unlike in the past when services of traditional leaders were being undermined by many.
The local leader then condemned those that are still referring such cases to formal courts making them being challenged by learned people a scenario he described as an insult.
”It is not fair to drag our subjects to courts of law just for the minor cases they commit within their households between a husband and wife that mostly emanate from disagreements on food. This goes beyond taking chiefs to courts to stand against lawyers! Where on earth have you seen such things happen?” He rhetorically asked.
Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at Karonga Diocese, Deodatus Muriya who doubles as a Project Officer of the Primary Justice project said the project will fight a good fight against such cases until domestic violence becomes a closed chapter.
In a recent interview, Karonga District Commissioner Richard Hara said referring minor cases to law courts is a waste of time as they can easily be resolved at community level by traditional courts.
Hara added that taking them to courts will just overload the magistrates with work thereby delaying the hearing of felonies.
Cases that are not peculiar in this case in the district according to Mwirang’ombe vary from theft of livestock like cattle, chickens, relish, wife battering, land disputes and marrying of juvenile girls for riches.
More than 150 Catholics from various secondary schools under St Matthias Parish had their hearts set ablaze with God’s love at the Young Catholic Students (YCS) rally, held at Mughese Hall of the Church at St Matthias Parish Centre, with participants being called not to be ashamed of their faith.
Speaking during the rally, Parish Priest for St Mathias Mulumba Parish, Fr. Bernard Silungwe, encouraged the youth not to be ashamed of their faith, saying those who share their faith, gain a deeper understanding of Christ.
“As a Parish, it is our desire to have the holistically transformed youth. We want to have the youth who are agents of positive change and this can only be realised young people are spiritually and academically active,“ said Father Silungwe.
He advised them to work hard at school, saying every parent wishes their children to come back from school with academic certificates not pregnancy. He further advised the youth to reflect well in choosing their vocation and discouraged them from indulging in behaviours that would hinder them from accomplishing their ambitions.
Speaking on behalf of the students, Chairperson for YCS at Misuku Community Day Secondary School, Mathias Chiona, said the meeting has come as an eye opener on how they should live their lives.
“As YCS, we face a lot of temptations at school, but let me encourage my fellow students to stay focused on Christ to achieve our dreams,” Said Chiona.
He lamented that the young generation must be used as a tool for peace, unity and spiritual stability. He expressed concern over the tendency of some parents who interfere in their children’s choice of vocations.
One of the participants, Agnes Simkonda, said the rally was well organised and patronised as compared to last year.
“I am impressed with the active participation of the youth in the liturgy. The liturgical dancers were drawn from all schools and the youth took all the leading roles in the Sunday Mass”, she said.
The YCS rally, which took place from 20- 22 April, 2018, attracted students from Misuku CDSS, Sokola CDSS, Pine Private School, St Mathias Private school and some youth from within the Parish.
The rally was conducted under the theme “Raising Generation of Holistically Transformed Leaders” where students reflected on different topics with purpose of equipping them to be active in both spiritual and academic life.
The topics included the following: YCS versus Catholic students; vocations: call to Christianity; call to life of servicing God in marriage, priesthood and religious life; behaviour change and HIV/AIDS; human dignity with emphasis on fornication, contraceptives, prostitution, human trafficking and child labour.
The meeting was organised with funds from the Coppel Family under the Sunday School Project of the Pastoral Commission.
The Diocese of Karonga through its Health Desk coordinates quarterly management meetings with management teams of health facilities under the Diocese. Such meetings serve multiple purpose including updating each other on present functioning of facilities, sharing new developments and orienting each other in local and international arising matters.
Among a number of issues discussed in the recent meeting, management members focused on orienting new management members to management functions, procurement and finance procedures and the newly constructed Chisenga Clinic.
Additionally, management members also discussed issues raised during a recent Christian Health Association (CHAM) board meeting concerning dressing code of staff and pension scheme in health facilities under this body.
Four health facilities under the Diocese namely Kaseye Rural Hospital in Chitipa, Atupele Community Rural Hospitals in Kaporo (Karonga), Hope Clinic at Karonga Boma and St. Anne’s Health Centre in Chilumba host these meetings on rotational basis.
The Diocese recognises that Lack of capable leadership and organisational management to implement effective health programs and build strong health infrastructure leads to poor public health outcomes. It is also aware that trained health professionals in Malawi rarely have any training prior to being offered a managerial position. Health related trainings focus more on direct program implementation roles than leadership and management competencies. Most of the health service managers are promoted to managerial positions on account of clinical expertise without being prepared for their new positions.
In this regard, the Diocese, through the Health Desk organises staff specialized in different management disciplines for example clinical, human resource and finance to orient management members from health facilities under the Diocese in leadership and organisational management. Facilitators during these meetings and other forums with above expertise come from the Curia office of the Diocese as well as government health facilities.
Strengthening of management teams is addressed through a number of interventions namely building capacity of management members through in-service training in general administration, upgrading of finance and procurement procedures and monitoring and supervision.
Additionally, the health Desk is working with health facilities in adoption of the Human Resources (HR) and Finance Manual released by a regulatory body of Christian Health Facilities (CHAM). These meeting are conducted in line with Karonga Diocese strategic plan (2016-2020) aimed at strengthening coordination of health management teams.
Speaking during an interview the Health Desk Officer, Vincent Shaba, said that these meetings are very helpful management members of facilities multiple issues including management and financial issues that affect health facilities. “We thought it wise that we should restructure our management so that facilities should have more effective management teams and also promote transparency and accountability.” He also added that such meetings help them to update each other on developments that are taking place at local as well as national level.
One of the Health facility Managers, Sr. Clementine said the meeting will help them know how to run their hospitals effectively, in terms of dressing cold discipline how to run finance without.
The Education Desk of Karonga Diocese dedicated a better part of the month of April to orient community education governing bodies in Karonga and Chitipa on their roles in mobilizing parents to help their children develop literacy skills.
The orientation sessions which started on 3rd and ended on 21st April, 2018 took place in eleven Teacher Development Centres across Chitipa and Karonga. This is an initiative under the National Reading Programme which aims at improving the reading skills in children from standard 1 to 4 with the funding from USAID through RTI.
The Education Desk target is to mobilize school governing bodies to support children in acquiring reading skills which is the second component of the programme. The activity targeted community structures especially School Management Committees (SMCs), Parents and Teachers Associations (PTAs) and Mother Groups (MGs) from 116 primary schools across Chitipa and Karonga districts.
According to the Education Desk Officer, Mr. Remmie Kamanga, the aim of the training is to mobilise the communities to take a leading role in helping children develop reading skills.
Mr. Kamanga said according to the statistics many Malawian learners in the first four classes are unable to read and those who read are not fluent in the same. The project, therefore, encourages parents to act as major role players in ensuring that their children are able to read and write.
Trained participants thanked the Desk for helping them realize that it is their responsibility to help their children learn how to read and write.
Bishop Martin Anwel Mtumbuka of the Diocese of Karonga has said the family is crucial in nurturing vocations to priesthood, religious life and married life.
Bishop Mtumbuka said this on Sunday when he presided over the closing liturgy of the annual training workshop for Catechists at St Mary’s Parish in Karonga. The closing liturgy which coincided with Vocations Sunday which is falls on Fourth Sunday of Easter also known as Good Shepherd Sunday.
Addressing the whole congregation, the Bishop exhorted them to emulate the example Christ the Good Shepherd by helping others towards salvation saying this is a primary vocation of all Christians.
Addressing the catechists who have undergone a week-long training, Bishop Mtumbuka urged them to put into practice what they have learnt. He said the aim of the trainings is for their formation and capacity building and urged them to show that these trainings are helping them through improved delivery in their service.
During the same liturgy Father Joseph Sikwese, who is Pastoral Secretary of the Diocese of Karonga and Parish Priest of St Mary’s Parish, read Pope Francis’ message on Vocations Sunday 2018. To the Catechists he had this to say; “The more one is given, the more will be demanded from him/her”.
Catechist Timothy Mapunda, representing fellow catechists who had undergone the week long training, thanked the Bishop for always finding resources and organising a training for Catechists every year. He assured the Bishop that each time they go through such training they continue to be renewed in their work to serve the people in the Diocese.
The training took place at St Mary’s Parish Centre where 51 Catechists from all the 30 administrative zones of the Diocese attended from 16th April to 22nd April 2018. The training session started with a Recollection preached by Father John Benjamin Moyo of St Ignatius Parish in Nthalire.
From 18th April to 21st April, the Catechists were taken through the following topics: Catechists’ Terms of Reference, facilitated by Mrs Memory Chinkhuntha (the Human Resource Officer), Fr Joseph Sikwese and Mr Benjaminn Msowoya; Kasambizgani Mitundu Yose Catechism Book II by Mr Ignatius Mvula; Rites for Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA), by Fr Cyprian Ngoma; The Funeral Rite, Fr Cyprian Ngoma; The Catholic Social Teaching, Mr Grego Lusale; The Creed; Articles of Faith, by Fr Joseph Sikwese; Pastoral Counselling, by Mr. Ignatius Mvula; Follow up on action plans on “The Year of Our Small Christian Community”, by Mr Benjamin Msowoya.
Such training workshops are an annual event organised by the Pastoral Commission for capacity building or formation of Catechists; they are organised in order to improve work standards for catechists in the Diocese.
Junior Sunday School (JSS) learners of St Mary’s Parish on 15th April, 2018 visited their friends of St Mary’s School for the Blind where they also donated some items. As part of their Easter charity activities, the children donated food items such as maize flour, cooking oil, packets of salt and packets of sugar. They also donated bars of soap, and clothes.
Over one hundred Junior Sunday School were part of the ceremony. According to the JSS children, they organized the charity work in line with what the Church teaches them to support their friends in need. They said they felt a great need to contribute the little they had to support their friends in readiness for the academic term beginning on 16th April, 2018.
They further explained the event was organized to appreciate the role played, by one of the learners of St Mary’s School for the Blind, towards the success of St Mary’s Zone in JSS quiz. Love Kayange, a learner at the school, was a most outstanding contestant in the last quiz edition.
In appreciation, the Headmaster of St Mary’s Boys Primary School thanked the children for their generosity towards their friends and the school as a whole. He encouraged them to continue growing in the spirit of unity and love. He further extended his appreciation to the priest at St Mary’s, Father Joseph Moloka Sikwese, and Sunday school instructors for instilling the spirit of generosity in the JSS.
The office of the Catechetical Methodology Advisor thanked the JSS for commencing such works of Charity. The young ones were further encouraged to work hard in school as the last term of the academic year commences.
The Junior Sunday School, which falls under the Children’s Desk of the Diocese of Karonga, accommodates children from 5 to 13 years old. According to the Diocesan Sunday School Coordinator, Mr. Benjamin Msowoya, apart from faith formation, Junior Sunday School children are also formed to be sensitive to the needs of others and be missionaries to other needy children.
This activity is in line with the spirit of the worldwide Holy Childhood of Pontifical Missionary Society (PMS) of which Sunday School Ministry in the Diocese is part.
Karonga, just like other districts in the Northern Region, has been experiencing heavy rainfall from the 9th of April, 2018. The continuous rainfall has put the people along major rivers such as North Rukulu, Songwe, Kyungu and lwawa in the District on risk. The rains have affected areas under traditional authorities Mwakaboko, Kilupula in Karonga North and Kyungu in Karonga Central.
The Development Desk carried out a rapid assessment of the situation on 14 April and established that on the night of 12 April, 2018 around 12 midnight areas under Group Village Headmen (GVHs) Gweleweta and Katumbi in TA Kilupula were hit by a rainstorm which resulted in the flooding of Nkhalamu, Kasantha and Changwina Rivers. The floods affected 57 households (342 people) who were rendered homeless, destitute and desperate. Nearly the all affected households have no nowhere to seek refuge. The affected villages are Malopa, and Andrew in GVH Katumbi and Mfulu and Mangulu in the area under GVH Gweleweta.
The extent of the damage is moderate to severe and includes loss of crops, kitchen utensils, clothes, beddings, flour, livestock and other items. At the time of the rapid assessment, a large hectarage with variety of crops was still sub-merged in flooding waters which may increase the extent of the damage to crops mainly cassava and rice in these two GVHs.
The rapid assessment went further to TA Mwakaboko far north of Karonga District where 1 (one), man from Mwakaboko Village has been pronounced dead after drowning in Songwe River which receives water from Kyungu River. The preliminary findings indicate no severe damage to houses only to crops mainly rice that has been affected by Kyungu River.
A number of crops have been affected and this includes major crops for the areas such as; Cassava, Rice, Sweet potato and Maize. However the most severely affected crop is rice.
The data compiling team at village level (Village Civil Protection Committee and Area Civil Protection Committee) has been in the field to collect and establish the findings which are expected to be shared soon to further detail the extent of the damage for the areas which were impassable during the rapid assessment by the Development Desk.
There was loss of one life a man aged between 30 and 40 years in TA Mwakaboko. In total 57 households were affected representing a population of 342 people.
Apart from water guard and chlorine provision by the Ministry of Health through health centres surrounding the villages, so far the affected households have not received any assistance of any kind. At district level, the District Civil Protection Committee (DCPC) Chair is calling for assistance from all the stakeholders so that the affected households can be assisted.
Immediate Assistance Required
Immediately the affected households needs the following assistance:
provision of flour/maize and relish as to serve them from starvation
tents / temporally shelter at GVH Katumbi where victims are sleeping in the church
books and writing materials for school going children and
More chlorine to safeguard them from water borne diseases.
Medium Term Intervention
In the medium term the affected households in the 5 villages will need the following assistance:
Rehabilitation of damaged houses
Construction of the damaged houses to those whose houses have been completely collapsed.
Sensitizing on construction standards so as to withstand flooding.
Relocating other households who are close to Kasantha River.
Rehabilitating and conserving river banks of Kasantha, Kyungu and Nkhalamu River to avoid future incidences.
Provision of seeds for winter cropping
Provision of livestock e.g. pigs, goats, chickens, etc
Provision of early maturing varieties for maize like DK 8033 and others
Provision of sweet potato and cassava cuttings.
Below are figures showing magnitude of floods in Two TAs (Kilupula and Mwakaboko).
Below are pictures showing the extent of the damage in TA Kilupula
The rapid assessment through the Development Desk was an important exercise to establish and verify reports by VCPCs and ACPCs on the extent of damage by the flooding waters. The exercise can confirm that the flood victims need humanitarian assistance particularly food staff and cooking utensils and tents to support the people sleeping in the camp at Mangulu Village where men and women are sharing a non-demarcated church structure for shelter.
Kaseye Rural Community Hospital is situated at Chinunkha at the foot of Misuku Hills, 10 kilometres off Chitipa Road. The facility is in Traditional Authority Mwaulambia and has a catchment area of 28 villages with a Population of about 12123.
Sisters of Holy Rosary congregation took over from the Missionaries of Immaculate Conception (MIC Sisters) and are currently running the institution on behalf of the Diocese of Karonga.
Among other services provided by the facility is maternal and new born (MNC: prenatal, natal, post natal and new born. The facility has an average of 60 mothers attending antenatal clinic and 40 deliveries in a month. Opened in 1943, the facility lacks an operating theatre.
Due to lack of this essential services, an average 5 mothers are referred to Chitipa District hospital every month which is close to 30 kilometers away. Reasons for referring pregnant mothers include delayed labour, premature rupture of membranes and fetal distress among others.
Challenges in transport means, due to poor road infrastructure mostly during rainy season, endangers pregnant mothers and the unborn babies to complications such as uterine rupture, pre and post-partum hemorrhage and fetal deaths.
Thanks to Change and Be Changed organisation under the leadership of Thomas and Elisabeth Hangartner with the support of Interplast Team for the renovation of an old building into a Theatre.
This will allow mothers to be assisted promptly in case of surgical decision by Clinician at the facility. The Interplast team from Germany has been assisting people in Karonga Diocese since 2016 with orthopedic and plastic. Patients with goiter have been operated by different teams from this organisation that come 3-4 times in a years.
Bravo, Dr. Michael Shidelko, the President of Interplast team for your support to people of Malawi. Furthermore, Interplast donated an electricity generator set which will provide power back up in case of electricity black out from the main grid by ESCOM.
Among other developments, Change and Be Changed organisation donated computers to be used for records in Pharmacy department of Kaseye and St Anne’s health facilities.
Additionally the organisation has renovated another building at the facility, named “House of Acceptance” which is one of the modern unit for HIV/AIDS treatment. It was is officially opened by the District Health Officer of Chitipa District, Dr Ted Bandawe.