Newsletter (December 4, 2008)

Dear all, Term 3 at TCCA ended last week and students had exams on Monday to Wednesday this week.  On Thursday we will have a graduation dinner and then on Saturday will be the big day—Graduation Day.  After that the campus will be very quiet.  Only a handful of people will remain.  The new academic year will begin on 12 January 2009.  TCCA has 11 graduates this year.  For those taking the education stream, most students will be able to get religious education teaching positions at secondary schools throughout the country.  For those in the pastoral stream, most of them have not received calls to serve in churches yet.  That does not mean there are no vacant church around.  Most churches in Zambia have no pastors, and they are very keen to call pastors to serve among them, but the dilemma is that they can not afford to have one.  Poverty is such a serious problem here and it affects practically everyone and everything.  We must admit that we have not seen the worst poverty in Zambia yet, but the things that we have seen so far convince us that this is a big problem here.  We couldn’t imagine how bad it is for people in war-torn countries like Somalia or Congo, or dysfunctional countries like Zimbabwe.  People there suffer so much and foreign aid just doesn’t reach them.

Forty-four percent of the population in Zambia is aged below 18.  The high percentage reflects the effects of HIV/AIDS, as many adults die before they reach 40.  Many of the young ones (perhaps as high as 20 percent of those below 18) are orphans.  In Africa, unlike Western countries, extended family is an important social system.  When someone dies, his/her extended family has the responsibility of looking after the offspring.  Sometimes a widow cannot afford to raise the family, then some children will be sent to the extended family to be looked after.  Sometimes, after both parents have died, the extended family will decide who is going to look after the orphans.  So the children may go to stay with their grandparents, or uncles/aunts.  Nearly all the families we know have one or two orphans living with them.  Even some single students or staff in TCCA have to look after two or three young kids.

You can imagine there are huge social problems resulting from this.  Because so many parents have died, the extended family finds it more and more difficult to take care of the increasing number of orphans.  Most families are poor and the orphans they need to care for just overstretch their meagre resources.  Also, many of the orphans staying with the extended family are not happy because they are not treated equally or fairly, some are neglected and some are even abused. So many of those children go away from home and become street kids.

There are many orphanages in Ndola and the conditions of most of them are very poor and some days it is hard to find enough food to go around.  Some of them get many donations from overseas but the owners pocket the money and never use them on the orphans.  Only a few of them really care for the orphans and, like the rest, they are struggling to cope.  For the past three weeks Zara has been visiting an orphanage called St Anthony’s.  It is one of the largest orphanages in Ndola which takes in children who have lost their parents to AIDS.  Right now it has about 250 children and of these there are about 15 kids who are suffering from cerebral palsy.  Zara is spending two mornings a week helping a physiotherapist (a British lady volunteer) caring for the ones who have cerebral palsy.  They all have different problems and they all need different treatments.  The physiotherapist will be away in early December for a month and please pray that Zara has the wisdom as to how to help those children.

We praise the Lord that Timothy has managed to get a Zambian driving licence, but the whole process is very uncomfortable as we come to know that bribery and corruption is very widespread in the process.  He was asked to do a driving test and he did not pay a bribe but the whole set up was very conducive to bribery and there was a strong hint for him to do so.  We talked to the SIM Zambia director and he said things are a bit different in Lusaka and actually new residents need not take a driving test.  He suggested Zara should apply for the licence there, to save her from going through the same uncomfortable experience as Timothy did.

Timothy’s knee has improved and thanks very much for your prayers.  Talk to you about the graduation next time.  In Christ.

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