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A New Deacon and a New Priest: An Early New Year Gift to the Diocese Of Karonga

By Moses Raymond Kamanga

On Saturday, 30th of December, 2023 all roads led to St. Michaels Parish Chitipa for the ordination of Seminarian Raphael Simwera to Diaconate and Deacon Godwin Mwafongo to Priesthood. A multitude of Christians from Karonga, Misuku, Kamene and Nthalire braved the long distances and a scare of rains to travel and witness the young men saying “yes” to serve at the Lord’s Altar.

Newly ordained priest (in chasuble) and deacon (in dalmatic) immediately after their ordination
Newly ordained priest (in chasuble) and deacon (in dalmatic) immediately after their ordination

Instructing the two as they braced themselves to take up this noble responsibility, the Chief Shepherd of the Diocese of Karonga, Rt. Rev. Martin Anwel Mtumbuka advised them to persevere in their calling.

In his homily Bishop Mtumbuka asked the candidates to take after the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

“We have just celebrated Christmas and there is a close link, which I want to share with you, between the experience of the Holy Family and priesthood. Joseph was depressed when he found out that Mary was pregnant and wanted to secretly leave her. Mary was troubled when Jesus went missing and found in the Temple. In these experiences, they endured,” explained Bishop Mtumbuka.

To these experiences, Bishop Mtumbuka connected priestly life in which the two candidates need to endure also.

“You should not be priests who just complain in everything. Complaining from Monday to Sunday, January to December; when there is nsima you complain, beans you complain, vegetables you complain, complaining about everything. I don’t want this,” expressed Bishop Mtumbuka.

He went on to encourage the two to commit themselves to the life of prayer, saying that prayer is the fuel for their priestly life.

“When prayer is abandoned in the life of a priest, signs and symptoms are very clear. Just as signs are conspicuously clear in a family whose couples no longer love each other.

You shall know this by the way they talk to each other and look at each other. A priest whose life is devoid of prayer does things haphazardly, with no commitment at all. May it not be so with you,” concluded Bishop Mtumbuka.

Deacon Raphael Simwera comes from St. Mathias Mulumba Parish in Misuku – Chitipa District and Fr. Godwin Mwafongo comes from St. Thomas Moore Parish – Malimbalimba in Karonga District. They both studied at Peramiho Major Seminary in Songea – Tanzania.

Deacon Simwera is set to be ordained a priest in August next year (2024) at St. Mathias Mulumba Parish Center in Misuku. Fr. Godwin Mwafongo has since been appointed to serve at St. Ignatius Parish in Nthalire and his ordination to priesthood has brought the number of diocesan priests in the Karonga Diocese to 24.

150 Dry Spell Survivors Receive Maize Donation

By Tawonga Chisale – TFM

About 150 dry spell survivors from Karonga South particularly of Lemero area have received relief maize donation from the Catholic Diocese of Karonga.

According to the Bishop’s and Pastoral Secretary of the Diocese, Father Robert Songa, the Diocese thought it wise to distribute a 50 kilogram of maize to each dry spell survivor because they see people suffering from hunger due to low crop yield which resulted from the dry spell that hit the district.

Father Songa shaking hands with a beneficiary who is flanked by Catholic Scouts
Father Songa shaking hands with a beneficiary who is flanked by Catholic Scouts

“The severe dry spell that hit the district gave us an indication that there will be hunger in the district. So as sought for financial support from people of the good will from Germany. They Church in Need responded immediately with a MK 24 million donation which we have used to buy maize which we are distributing in the Karonga and parts of Rumphi, particularly those people affected by the dry spell,” Father Songa said.

Father Songa added that the distribution of maize will be done in phases and each person will receive 50 kg bag of maize.

Father Songa has however urged people of good will to come in the district with any kind of support so that dry spell survivors should not perish due to starvation.

Commenting on the development, one of the beneficiaries Esther Kasimba commended the Diocese for the donation which she termed as timely as her family was already struggling to get food due the prolonged dry spell which hit the district in February this year.

 “We are very delighted with the donation that the Diocese of Karonga is offering to us and it is my plea that everyone who has received the donation should not to sell it,” Kasimba said.

Karonga Diocese Dares Politicians

By Winkly Mwaulambo – TFM

The Catholic Diocese of Karonga has asked Christians not to be hand clappers of unrealistic political leaders who only show up when they need votes and varnish when people are in need.

Father Robert Songa speaking during the function
Father Robert Songa speaking during the function

Bishop’ and Pastoral Secretary of the Diocese Father Robert Songa made this call yesterday when he presided over a relief distribution ceremony of maize to people who were affected by the dry spell at Lemero Outstation.

Father Songa said it is pathetic to see people in immense challenges which ought to be solved by leaders they chose to represent them, but they are doing nothing in such areas.

“Its high time we have been hearing and seeing people clapping hands for such leaders promising heaven on earth during campaign times, but when voted into power they do not come back to the people’s rescue,” Father Songa bemoaned.

“Challenges are really hitting people hard in various societies, no medicine in hospitals, prices of goods are soaring every day, farmers cannot afford fertilizer, number of beneficiaries of AIP have dwindled this year, yet we have leaders who can bring solutions but we are seeing nothing at all,” Father Songa added.

He therefore, called on citizens to be vigilant and tell their leaders the truth when thing are not good they not fear them.

“I would want to remind you that the duty of politicians is not buying coffins when someone in your village dies. Do not only dance for them to give you a handouts which will not even sustain you, but tell them to develop your communities. Let them respond to your needs,” he further said.

Meanwhile, Father Songa has assured Christians of continued support from the diocese while advising them to take care of the food items they have received because it takes people of good will to provide such support.

Karonga Diocese with financial support of MK 24 million from Church in Need of Germany has reached out to 150 households which were affected by dry spell, and the distribution will also go to other parts of the diocese.

Orientation workshop participants
KARONGA DIOCESE ORIENTS BOARDING MASTERS AND MISTRESSES ON SAFEGUARDING POLICY

By Wantwa Mwakasungula

As a way of creating a safer and conducive learning environment in Catholic schools under the Diocese of Karonga, Safeguarding Office of the Diocese has today oriented Boarding Masters and Mistresses on Safeguarding Policy with the aim of protecting students in these schools against harm in line with Catholic Social Teaching.

Orientation workshop participants
Orientation workshop participants

The Diocesan Safeguarding Officer, Vincent Bwinga said the training aimed at reminding these teachers and other officers working in these schools on the importance of the Safeguarding Policy which protects children and vulnerable adults.

Bwinga further encouraged teachers and workers who work within Catholic institutions to take part in making sure that people are being supported accordingly without any violation.

Speaking to Tuntufye FM Online, one of the Boarding Masters, from St Mary’s Karonga Girls Secondary School, Ronald Chiona said this training will help them to do their job in a safer environment as students will realize the reason why they are at school.

He added that students are subjected to several abuses which affect their performance at school, but with these trainings they will able to reduce such abuses.

These Boarding Masters and Mistresses came from all Catholic Secondary Schools in Karonga Diocese.

Newly constructed slaughterhouse
Concerns over Newly Constructed Chitipa Slaughterhouse

By Wezzie Mwangonde*

Chitipa District Council is one of the councils that have received funding for development projects under the Governance to Enable Service Delivery (GESD) in the 2022/2023 financial year, one of which is the newly constructed slaughterhouse. This has raises concerns among Butchery Association members in the district due to their low participation and lack of some structures at the site.

Newly constructed slaughterhouse
Newly constructed slaughterhouse

In an interview, recently, Chitipa Butchery Association Chairperson, Siasa Nyondo said the Association has had low participation during the construction of the slaughterhouse, citing that none of their members was part of the project management committee.

Nyondo explained that some structures are missing at the site such as toilets, manure bin and inside tap water. This he said has left them with unanswered questions as they are still waiting for the council to invite them for the meeting to discuss the completion of the construction.

“The council only involved us during the project’s inception meeting where they committed to include one of us in the project management committee which did not happen until we saw the newly constructed structure on our own and the council has never invited us again. We are still waiting for them to invite us,” said Nyondo.

Old slaughterhouse
Old slaughterhouse

According to former Chitipa Civil Society Organisations Network Chairperson, Sydney Simwaka the contractor finished the construction of the slaughterhouse within the construction period from 7th December, 2022 to 7th March 2023, but said he is unable to respond to why the structure is not being utilized by the people till now.

He has also urged the people in the district to have interest in the projects that are constructed using public funds and participate fully in order to promote transparency and accountability in development activities in the country.

“The construction finished within the period but the council would be in a better position to respond as to why the slaughterhouse is not being utilized because we do not know the reasons. May be we need to wait for the handover ceremony,” explained Simwaka.

In his remarks, the owner of Mazangala Building Construction, Ranson Simbeye has confirmed that the slaughterhouse’ keys were handed over to the Chitipa District Council in September this year.

Simbeye said, the construction of toilets, houses and maintenance of feeder road to the slaughter house which has a lot of potholes were not part of the contractor’s job.

“We handed over the keys and everything is in the hands of the government. According to the bill of quantity (BOQ) construction of toilets and houses at the site were not part of the contract as well as maintenance of the feeder road,” said Simbeye.

Commenting on the matter, Chitipa District Council Director of Planning and Development Jossen Tembo said the relevant committees such as the Village Development and main market committee were engaged. He has attributed delays in opening the slaughterhouse to lack of electricity, vandalism of electrical cables and maintenance of the feeder road to the site.

He added that electricity and water were part of the project budget. Currently, the council is sourcing funds for the maintenance of the feeder road so that people can start using the structure.

“There are some vendors who are concurring with the sentiments of other market users that the slaughterhouse is located very far from the market, therefore, we want to engage them to start using the structure because it is theirs.”

National Local Governance Finance Committee Board Chairperson, Richard Chapweteka declined to comment saying he has not yet visited the site.

Chitipa District slaughterhouse is constructed in Chitipa Central Constituency at Yamba Ward by Mazangala Building Construction Company to the tune of K39,550,072.00 under GESD.

*Wezzie Mwangonde is Chief News Editor for Tuntufye FM of the Diocese of Karonga. She writes this story as part of the Voices of Accountability Programme.

Miracle Technical Institute Holds 20th Graduation Ceremony

By Ella Chirwa

The Deputy Director of Technical Vocational Education Training under the ministry of labour, Chifundo Lodzeni has applauded the management of Miracle Technical College for joining hands with government in attaining enabler number 5 in Malawi 2063.

Entrance procession of graduating students
Entrance procession of graduating students

Lodzeni who was the guest of honour at the ceremony described the graduation as a symbol of relief to government as it is striving to achieve human capital development in making sure that young people are self-reliant.

“Young people account for 52% of the country’s population, and some are just idle. Seeing a number of youths acquiring different skills is a huge encouragement to the ministry as well as the country as a whole,” Lodzeni said.

Lodzeni further encouraged graduates to form  groups of 10 or more and start different kinds of businesses so that they employ other youths who are just idle, rather than waiting for government to employ them.

Senior Training Programs Specialist for TEVETA, Tenis Molande has counselled graduates not to be eyeing white collar jobs rather use the skills they have gained to open up their own companies and assist in the development of the country.

The Principal for the College, Wanangwa Sichone has encouraged students to go into the labour market and showcase the skills they have gained in the 3 years stay at the school.

The student that managed to get a distinction in Electrical Installation, Levison Failosi, has encouraged youths who are idle to consider gaining vocational skills for their personal advancement.

In the 20th graduation ceremony, Miracle Technical Institute has awarded diplomas and certificates to 350 students (205 females and 145 males) who have successfully completed various formal and informal courses.

CCJP New Project to Strengthen Women’s Voice in Reducing Poverty and Inequalities

By Tawonga Chisale

Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) under the Diocese of Karonga has launched a new project which is aimed at empowering women to reduce poverty and   inequalities in extractive governance in the district.

A cross-section of participants during the launch
A cross-section of participants during the launch

The new project is called Women’s Voice Against Poverty and Inequalities is being funded by Southern Africa Trust (SAT) and will be implemented at Mpata mining sites under Group Village Headman Mwenenguwe and Paulos.

Speaking in an interview, the organization’s Project Officer Vincent Bwinga said they have thought it wise to implement this project in the district because it has lot of mining sites which usually leave women as victims of circumstances as their voices are not heard.

“We have a lot of minerals being extracted such as coal mine, uranium and copper. Most of the times women are being left behind and voicing out their concerns is a challenge. We, therefore, would like to reduce the gap between these two genders,” Bwinga said.

“The new project will allow women to be heard by duty bearers and investors so that issues surrounding mining concerning women and communities should be resolved mostly through the voice of women,” Bwinga further said.

In a separate interview, one of the community members Christina Ngonga welcomed the development saying it will allow their voice to be heard by authorities in mining sector as and in turn spark development in their communities.

“We are very delighted with the initiative that CCJP has brought to our area because we have suffered a lot especially those working in mining sites as far as health status and environmental rights are concerned.

 “We expect that mining investors will be doing the following; offering employment opportunities to community members, construct good roads and health facilities which are a great challenge in this area,” Ngonga said.

Ngonga further expressed the women’s commitment and readiness to work with CCJP under the new project to reduce the problems they are facing and spur development in their area.

Commenting on the matter, Project Manager for Kasikizi Coal Mine, Vijey Sekhar said they are ready to work with CCJP and communities to spearhead development in the area and reduce poverty. He further said that, as mine owners, they will also make sure that the well-being of mine workers and community members is fully protected.

New lease of life: Estida Msonda standing on her newly built house.
Karonga District Council Commends Development Desk’s Disaster Preparedness Project

By Ellah Chirwa

Karonga District Council has commended the Development Desk (also known as CADECOM) of the Diocese of Karonga for training communities, living in disaster prone areas of Traditional Authorities Mwkaboko, Mwirangombe and Wasambo, in disaster preparedness.

New lease of life: Estida Msonda standing on her newly built house.
New lease of life: Estida Msonda standing on her newly built house.

This commendation was made by Senior Fire Officer in the Department of Disaster – Search and Rescue Cluster, Nicholas Chirwa, during a joint field monitoring tour in areas that are prone to strong winds and floods organised by the Development Desk in collaboration with Karonga District Council.

In an interview the council’s representative, Nicholas Chirwa, said as a council, they are impressed with the way people have responded to the project’s interventions saying they are sure that many people will be protected from possible disasters in the coming rainy season. He further said the project has assisted residents to understand that disasters can be prevented.

“The project had a number of interventions such as training in borehole rehabilitation, demonstration of strong winds and flood resistant houses, tree planting, and planting river gauge and rain gauge which have adopted by the community,” Chirwa said.

Chirwa further urged the Development Desk to continue with the project saying this will help the district to significantly reduce disaster records.

In his remarks Matthias Bulukutu, who is the coordinator of the project, said he was satisfied with the positive response from the communities.

“At least three vulnerable people were selected as beneficiaries for the demonstration houses designed to resist wind and water pressure, 8 thousand tree seedlings were distributed in the three impact areas, and three boreholes were also rehabilitated,” Bulukutu said.

Bulukutu further urged the community members to continue participating in the project to ensure sustainability of the interventions.

One of the beneficiaries selected for the demonstrations of houses, Estida Msonda, 65 years old, has appreciated the Development Desk for the kind gesture saying the house she was living in with her daughters and grandchildren was not decent enough.

 “To live in an iron sheet thatched house is a testimony I have to give because I was living in a leaking house and it was also infested with mosquitoes. This made our household susceptible to malaria which made us visit the hospital frequently. I will take good care of this house,” Msonda said.

The Development Desk has been implementing the Karonga Participatory Community Action for Preparedness (KPCAP) with the aim of preparing communities living in areas that are prone to natural disasters, such as strong winds and floods.

Estida Msonda's old house
Rehabilitated borehole
Rehabilitated borehole
Disaster resilient house
Disaster resilient house
An established macadamia nuts plantation at Chipunga Farm
The Eye of the Needle: Church Mission and Investment

*By Father Joseph Mkinga

In Luke 18:22, Jesus tells a wealthy young man to ‘sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor.’ Jesus goes on to say, ‘it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.’ When we look at both scripture and tradition, we find Christians wrestling with how to apply the teachings of Jesus and how to care for the poor. It is very clear that even among early Christians, the Acts of the Apostles and Pauline Churches, the teaching of renunciation of wealth never took root. However, there was a serious commitment to address the gap between the poor and the rich in their communities.

The motto of Karonga Diocese is ‘We shall go to them’. This motto is at the center of the nature of the Church as a mission. God’s plan of salvation is meant for all peoples and all nations (Mt 28:19). That’s what we see happening after Pentecost, Christ’s disciples go out to spread the Gospel. Evangelism, belongs to the very nature of the Church.  There is no sharing in Christ without sharing in his mission. This focus on Christ’s mission of going to all peoples has a number of consequences for the missionary church. Echoing the words of Late Bishop Zuza of Mzuzu, ‘Nyengo yakwana’ (It is time) for the local church to support its own mission.

In order to reach out and touch everyone with the message of Christ within and beyond the diocese, Karonga Diocese requires enormous resources to fulfill the implications of its mission. To reduce overdependence on external financial assistance in support of its missionary initiatives enshrined in the motto; ‘we shall go to them’. The Diocese of Karonga embarked an investment drive through agribusinesses ventures. Among the initiatives is Chipunga Farms Limited; an agribusiness outfit that specializes in coffee and macadamia plantations.

The Diocese of Karonga acquired Chipunga Farms Limited in January, 2018. Chipunga Farms Limited is a limited liability company and to date, comprises of three farms namely; Mughese Coffee Farm at Misuku in Chitipa District, Chiwela Farm in Rumphi District and the main farm Chipunga Farm. Chipunga Farm has 286.46 hectares (ha) of land of which 160.0 ha is earmarked for coffee and macadamia plantations in the next 5 years. The farm is located in Chikwina, Nkhata-Bay District in Traditional Authority Mnyaluanga. It is 25 kilometres to the North East of Mzuzu City. The Farm has 37.0 ha of land planted with coffee in three stages, the older one is 5 years and is in its third harvest in 2023, the medium is 3-year-old and the other one is 1 years old. In addition to coffee, the farm has also 31.0 ha of macadamia, of which 18.79 ha is productive and 12.21ha of macadamia is 3 years old.

We have arrived at a critical juncture in our life together. We cannot deny the fact that life has changed a lot more than we envisaged. We are at a point where only the most adaptive to change survive (Charles Darwin). In as much as the Church wishes to spread the gospel, there is no denial of the role of money in fulfilling the church mission. We cannot cast a blind eye on the fact that external support is diminishing at a fast rate than we could wish.

While there has been considerable discernment about the best way of deploying our meagre financial resources collected from the faithful, we must recognize the sad reality before us. The Church does in fact require more financial assistance to pay salaries, maintain property, build churches, schools, hospitals and support all other institutions of evangelization including the radio station. At the same time, our reading of the signs of the times, has led us to understand that in addition to the many ministry projects that the diocese undertakes, our investment strategy and approach should be informed by our sense of vocation and call. St Paul, the Apostles, reminds us in Acts 18:1-4, that he made tents, in order to earn money to support himself in his real ministry of witnessing to Christ. It is certainly true that Paul wants to support himself. Yet his intention was not only to support himself in his preaching ministry, but also to provide financial support to the needy.

When Paul describes his economic impact among the Ephesians, he says: I coveted no ones’ silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities, and to those who were with me, in all things I have shown you that by so toiling one must help the weak,remembering the words of Jesus Christ, how he said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’  (Acts 20:33-35).

Paul’s money earning work was an effort to build up the community. He sets an example for everyone to follow in enhancing the common good and support of the weak. This gives the basis for the diocese of Karonga to toil in order to help the weak and to support the mission. Tent making has become a common metaphor for the church to engage in a money-earning enterprise as means to support church mission.  It is thus very clear that money-earning is for the building of the Kingdom of God. As such, the question is how moral is the enterprise that raises these funds. And of what benefit are the funds towards the common good.

Christian life has been marked by considered concern for the poor, a principle that bears witness to God’s goodness. From the days of Jesus Christ to the early church described in Luke-Acts, a wrestling with how to deploy financial resources for the common good has ensued. We find in the writings of early theologians like Clement of Alexander and St Augustine of Christians believing in a just society where resources are shared with those in need (The Epistle to Diognetus).

Though one cannot determine a precise starting point for socially responsible investing, there are elements of such conscientious practices in Christian tradition reminding us that humanity should use money for building the Kingdom of God, and not to exploit others. Otherwise, riches without a responsible social concern can yield worse outcomes and capitalist culture. Thus, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the Kingdom of Heaven if the money-earning enterprise is deprived of ethics. That is, if riches are not used for common good and for the building of the Kingdom of God.

The early church was intensely interested in the common good- in creating communities that ensured peoples essential needs were provided for. The leaders of the early church knew that they could never achieve such a reality without the spiritual and moral transformation of those who had the resources. They knew that they could never provide essential needs if the people saw their enterprise as singularly their own. Instead, the enterprises had the capacity to be used for the ministry to benefit both owners and those who had a need. And this ultimately, is the point I would like to leave you with. That one of the great spiritual transformations of Karonga Diocese is how people think about money. That the Diocese approaches money with intention and conviction about its purpose in spreading the Gospel and building the Kingdom of God.

In investing, Karonga Diocese, does not depart from traditional Christian teaching. It is merely embracing what has been traditionally and biblically taught. That by …going to them, it is our purpose and calling to minister to others using our spiritual gifts and financial resources ethically, mindfully and creatively.  Only then could our riches help us lead us to heaven.

*The author, Rev. Fr. Joseph Mkinga, Acting General Manager for Chipunga Farms Limited

A cross-section of participants captured during the training
Justice and Peace Desk Trains Safeguarding Focal Persons

By Janet Mhango

From the 14th to the 15th of September, CCJP has trained the Safeguarding Focal Persons on safeguarding, case management, and referral. The training brought about 54 Safeguarding Focal Persons from 25 Catholic Primary Schools and 4 Catholic Secondary Schools in Chitipa District. 

A cross-section of participants captured during the training
A cross-section of participants captured during the training

Through the training, CCJP has equipped these Safeguarding Focal persons with more skills to handle both reported and non-reported cases of abuse, creating a safe environment for students and contributing towards protecting the rights of children in respective schools. 

This training was conducted because of the strong view that most issues regarding abuses in schools are swept under the carpet. Cases of abuse are barely reported. In addition, although the Diocese of Karonga established Safeguarding Focal Persons in all its institutions, they had implementation and enforcement gaps that needed them to be filled, hence the trained.

The Justice and Peace Desk of the Diocese of Karonga, with Funding from Misereor, is implementing a project in Chitipa District called “Gender Sensibilization and Safeguarding in the Diocese of Karonga.” 

One of the objectives of the project is that Catholic Primary Schools have established systems for the protection of students. To achieve this objective, the project works with Safeguarding Focal Persons which are structures established by the Diocese of Karonga to handle safeguarding concerns and reported cases of abuse.