Thursday, April 19, 2012

Missionary Teacher

Dimuna Habeenzu was in the very first class I taught at George Benson Christian College in September, 2005. He recently visited Roy Merritt, and Roy sent out this report:

Dimuna Habeenzu has worked as a self-supporting missionary in North Western province for almost four and a half years.
He teaches school at Kabulamema—which means “There is no water” in the local Luvale language.
No water? The place sprawls a hill overlooking lush vegetation along the wide Kabompo River.
Dimuna and his college friend Joseph Moono have started two new congregations in North Western province, Kawanda and Manyinga. They revived a congregation in Kabompo.
“What is it like, Tongas preaching among Luvales?” I asked. “Are you welcome? Respected? Do you have problems communicating?”

“Luvales always welcome us Tongas,” Dimuna chuckled. “After all, we are cousins.”

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Eureka School Graduates from the mid-1950s

From Roy Merritt.

Long, long ago, tiny Eureka boarding school operated here at Namwianga.

A few days ago, three of us got together again!
On the right is Yours Truly, the least educated person here.
In the middle, Dr. Anita Hobby Mitchell, still teaching and doing research at the medical school in Little Rock, Arkansas.
On the left is Dr. Phil Thuma, main doctor at Macha Mission hospital most of his life. Phil works with Johns Hopkins in malaria research, and has almost eradicated malaria in the area served by his institution.

Did you read that right? Yes!

Almost eradicated!

1. Mosquito nets don't prevent malaria because rural Africans live and eat outside. By the time they are ready to sleep, mosquitoes have already dined.
2. Sprays don't prevent malaria because mosquitoes become immune.
3. Prophyactics don't prevent malaria because the disease becomes immune to drugs.

So Phil does goes after malaria carriers. He tests everybody for malaria, sick or not, especially those living near quiet water pools. Then he treats everyone who tests positive, even if they show no symptoms. He has even developed a saliva test for malaria to overcome those who do not want their blood taken for religious or superstitious reasons.

Cynical scientific types told him his results were not reproduceable. So Phil went to work and proved them wrong. Two other campaigns in two different areas came up with similar results. Mosquitoes cannot transmit malaria if the people they bite do not have malaria parasites in their blood.

"Makes sense to me," I thought. "Maybe those fancy, highly paid scientists don't like being trumped by a humble missionary doctor out in the boonies."

Those scientists still were not convinced. "The problem is commitment", they said. "There are not enough people with your level of commitment to do the job on a national scale."

So "lack of commitment" blocks eradication of malaria in Africa, and prevents saving a million lives each year.

Phil is also attacking AIDS. More exciting research. As he spoke about his studies and results and plans I felt a tiny thrill of hope.

What he says is so obvious that it makes sense.

People cannot transmit a virus they do not have.

Phil advocates that we treat all HIV carriers, even if they are not sick. Present regulations forbid treatment of HIV positive people until their blood count drops to specific levels--until they are sick. "What other disease do we treat this way?" Phil asks. "Do we wait till a patient's lungs are half full of fluid before we treat pneumonia? Do we wait till gangrene has destroyed a man's toes before we go to work on his leg?"

Phil may have a key to end this plague.

His main problem?


A Teacher's Legacy

I am reposting a story from March, 2009, because I received a comment on the post just this week, and because it's good to remember that teachers leave a legacy--and sometimes we never know what that legacy is. Humphrey was hired by the government to teach in northern Zambia, and I have lost touch with him, but I hope that somehow he gets the word that he made a difference for one of his first students. Here's the original post. The comment is at the end.

Graduate Gives Back

Humphrey Syamate, a 2008 graduate of George Benson Christian College, exemplifies the best aspects of our training and sponsorship programs. An orphan with no one to support him, Humphrey came to GBCC under sponsorship and quickly distinguished himself in academics and leadership. Namwianga Secondary School recognized Humphrey’s potential and hired him to begin teaching math and science as soon as he finished his college courses.

In addition to his teaching duties, Humphrey now coordinates a math tutoring program for sponsored high school students. Humphrey trained George Benson college students to do the tutoring and then organized all the logistics of location and scheduling for the sessions at the secondary school. The college students are getting valuable teaching experience, and the high school pupils are thrilled to get some extra help in what for most is a difficult subject. Humphrey manages it all beautifully.

The training that Humphrey received at GBCC is now blessing the next generation of sponsored students at Namwianga.

Humphrey (far right) with the GBCC math tutors he trained

This week a former student wrote a comment:

I was once a pupil at the school from grade 10 to 11. I would love to congratulate this man for his outstanding job. He used to teach us mathematics during my time (2009), and I graduated in 2010. I was one of his best math pupils then. I liked his teaching dearly; as a result, I passed my high school with flying colors holding a distinction (1) in maths. I am now @ the university of Namibia studying financial mathematics (math+economics), heading to be an actuarial analyst.

Namwianga Youth Meeting

A guest post by Roy Merritt, long-time missionary at Namwianga.

Good Friday through Easter Monday this year Namwianga is hosting the national youth meeting for churches of Christ in Zambia.

Zambians call unmarried people “youths”. Here you are a boy or a girl till you marry. I married at 49, and a youngster grinned congratulations at me, “Sir, at last you are a man!”
Namwianga youths worked hard to prepare for the crowd, digging pit latrines, hauling firewood, hanging lights, moving benches and desks into the quadrangle, and hauling this enormous tarp over Georgia Hobby’s sturdy flambouyant trees.
I hear there are about 1,500 people in this picture.
Lots of sermons, songs, drama, group discussions -- communion service lasted two hours . . .

One of the youths came over to visit me this afternoon.
Kathi and I sort of adopted Dennis Zuze and his twin after their parents died. They were sharp little rascals, and we popped them into grade 8 here at Namwianga when they were only eleven years old. Now they work in the copper mines at Chililabombwe, near the border with Congo.

Dennis came along with the Copperbelt youth, and told us he plans to sponsor one of the orphans in the Haven.