By Benjamin Msowoya and Maureen Soko
On 23rd and 24th March 2018, a team of officials from the Diocese of Karonga visited the Diocese of Dedza. The purpose of the trip was to learn from Dedza Diocese on how they are implementing their interventions in Family Planning Methods among the faithful.
From Karonga Diocese, the team comprised of Fr. Joachim Mwale (the Diocesan Family postulate Chaplain), Fr Joseph Sikwese (the Pastoral Secretary), Mr Vincent Shaba (the Head of Health Desk in the Diocese), Mr Benjamin Msowoya (the Sunday School Project Coordinator), Mr and Mrs Sikanda (Chair-couple for the Family Apostolate), Mr and Mrs Nyondo (Member-couple for the Family Apostolate) and Ms Maureen Soko (of Tuntufye FM Radio).
While in Dedza Diocese, the team from Karonga Diocese was briefed on how Dedza Diocese is implementing a project on Family Planning Methods among the people it serves. The Diocese of Dedza has trained 15 couples in some of its parishes as sensitization agents and service providers on Natural Family Planning Methods. These selected couples first live what they have been taught and then lead others on the same. So far, Dedza Diocese, through such trained couples, has reached to over 9700 people on Family Planning. Of all these, 127 couples (both Catholics and non-Catholics, including Muslims) have chosen to follow Natural Family Planning Methods as recommended by the Church.
The Diocese of Karonga established the Family Apostolate in 2015 in order to serve families in a special way. Under a program on Responsible Parenthood, as funded by the Sunday School Project, the Diocese is implementing several Reproductive Health interventions including popularization of Family Planning Methods among the people it serves. This is done with technical help from the Health Department of the Diocese of Karonga.
Therefore, the trip to Dedza Diocese was a learning visit on how best to popularize and train the laity on Family Planning according to Catholic Ethos; especially on Natural Family Planning Methods. Mr Vincent Shaba (head for the Health Department) said the visit was an eye opener since the Diocese of Karonga has been sensitizing people on Family Planning but lacked some knowledge on best strategies for successful training of the laity. He said that he was glad that the visit to Dedza Diocese, Ntcheu Parish in particular, had provided the team from Karonga Diocese with some of the needed knowledge on this.
He was also quick to add that they were encouraged to see that not all that the Diocese of Karonga was doing in this regard was off point; the strategy to reach out to families with Family Planning issues through the Family Apostolate was hailed by teams from both Dioceses as a good idea in as far as sustainable efforts in this area are concerned.
Having benefited from the trip, the Diocese of Karonga plans to train its own sensitization agents and service providers on Natural Family Planning Methods (NFP) so that the high demand in the Diocese, from people who would like to follow the NFP methods is satisfied with help from the Church.