Our Lady of the Wayside - September 2021
Our Lady of the Wayside – September
In Zambia the dry season is coming to an end – as usual there have been 6 months without any rain. This is the time to prepare the ground for the coming rains, so the seed can be planted without delay when the rain arrives. With Climate Change the onset of the rains has become far less predictable - so it becomes essential to prepare in advance.
The parish of Our Lady supplements it's income from various income generating activities run by the parishioners. You will remember that last year there was a good crop of sunflowers which produced oil which was turned into oil for distribution and sale. This year the parishioners are busy clearing 4 hectares (about 10 acres) for growing soya beans. They need to hire a tractor or some oxen to plough the ground – this costs about £40 per hectare. They are asking our parish to provide this as our contribution – the parish of Our Lady of the Wayside will still make the major contribution in labour and funds. A good harvest could bring in £2,000 from the sale of soya beans.
Another activity that has been started is fish farming – which is done at the parish. We have been asked to help fund the purchase of “fingerlings” - these are the baby fish which will be grown into fish for sale. I will let you know more details in another update. The fingerlings cost about 4p each i.e. 25 for a £1. £10 will provide 250! Their pond will take 3,000 fish! They will aim to fund the feeding of the fish, which will be supplemented from pig and chicken waste. From the sale of these fish alone they hope to realise about £1,400.
Please consider donating – using the envelopes. The various activities at Our Lady of the Wayside make your money go a long way. By enabling ploughing, buying seed, fingerlings, piglets etc. crops, fish and pigs are produced which multiply the investment. The parishioners face huge challenges and funds are always needed. The Parish does it's best to raise funds locally, but particularly with current problems, extra money is needed to support the vulnerable and provide education opportunities for the children.
The new government seems to be making things a little better, but there is a very long way to go.
The virus is still very much present in Zambia - the official number of deaths is low. It might be that the current hot weather and sunshine is limiting the spread, but the figures are likely to underestimate the true position because of the limited access to medical facilities. Access to vaccines is still very limited – currently 3.5 doses have been administered per 100 people – this compares with 138 per 100 people in the UK. The poorest countries are not getting the vaccines they need.
Thank you very much for your support, please continue to continue to pray for our sisters and brothers at Our Lady of the Wayside, Monze, Zambia.
Our Lady of the Wayside - August 2021
Zambia has just had a presidential election which has resulted in a change of President. We hope that this will result in improvements for the people.
The 24th / 25th July was designated by Pope Francis as a time to pray especially for grandparents. Fr Wilson sent me a photo showing two elderly ladies – one is blind and the other cannot walk. The community of Our Lady of the Wayside is doing what they can to keep elderly people safe. We have sent the money in our Monze fund – about £470 - to provide supplies of soap, masks etc. for the elderly and to help with church expenses. The local projects which produce sunflower oil, maize flour and pigs for sale are helping the church survive during this difficult time.
Unfortunately coronavirus is now surging in Zambia and there have been a number of deaths of parishioners from Our Lady of the Wayside. I have recently heard of the deaths of two more people in Zambia who I knew very well - Wetty Chiiya and Patrick Chuungu. There have been a lot of staff from Monze Hospital who have caught the virus and there are deaths of patients every day. Unlike the UK there is very little available in terms of treatment or vaccines. I understand that prisoners are being co-opted to bury the dead. Without a huge increase in support from the rest of the world, I am afraid that there will be very many more people who will die from the virus in Zambia.
A certain amount of restrictions are in force, with just a couple of Sunday masses at Our Lady of the Wayside, with very few parishioners.
Please continue to pray for our friends in Monze. If you are able to provide financial support please make use of the Parish Project envelopes at the back of church. Our Lady of the Wayside will undoubtedly face enormous challenges in the months ahead.
Our Lady of the Wayside - May 2021
This past year has been challenging for people across the whole world. Maybe we will recognise just how connected and interdependent we are. In Monze it has been difficult for people to generate an income. This has also been true for the parishioners of Our Lady of the Wayside and for the church itself.
Fortunately the people have worked hard together to come up with ways of overcoming their problems. It was decided early last year that sunflower seeds turned into cooking oil could provide extra income. The crop for this year has now been harvested and it has been a very successful year. Some repairs were needed to the oil press but these were carried out and I expect oil processing will now be in full flow!
A piggery was established a few years back and St Gregory's donated a pig or two. This is also a good income generator.
This year it was decided to start a small chicken rearing business as a further income generator. At Easter some of the older vulnerable parishioners were given a chicken as an Easter gift - no doubt a rare treat.
All these projects (another is maize milling) are developed managed and run by the parishioners.
There is good news on the virus front. Some vaccine has arrived in Zambia. My friend Jennipher was one of the first to receive a dose. There is a long way to go and we pray that a lot more vaccine is made available to Zambia and other poorer nations.
Our Lady of the Wayside - February 2020
Bishop Moses of Monze died of the virus and Fr.Wilson tells me that at least 15 priests in Zambia have died from the virus. Fr. Wilson himself caught COVID-19, but has now regained most of his strength.
Efforts have been made to linit the spread of the virus, with school and church closures, mask wearing and attempts at social distancing, but the environment makes this difficult.
As with the rest of the world the impact economically on the country and individuals has been very significant.
We have been able to send some money from the church and individual parishioners to help keep Our Lady of the Wayside functioning. In particular a donation to buy sunflower seed allowed the oil press to be brought into action last year, thus multiplying the donation. Another donation for sunflower seed at the start of the rainy season has generated a good crop of sunflowers which will again be turned into oil to generate extra income. Other funds sent out have enabled the most needy to receive some food to help to sustain them until the new maize crop is harvested.
Fortunately this year the rains have been good and consistent. A good harvest is expected.
It is hard for us to understand the importance of a harvest to everyone in Zambia. Many of our friends from Our Lady of the Wayside will have an income of less than £1 a day. However they will probably have a hoe and a little bit of ground where they can grow a little maize and perhaps a few other vegetables. This food is largely how they survive. Without it they will struggle to survive. Most of the parishioners make a small income from buying and selling in the market. In a good year the farmers have money to spend in the market and shops. In a bad year the parishioners will not have grown enough food and will not have much trade in the market.
The parishioners form a busy community. They come together on Sunday afternoons as Small Christian Communities to pray together (Our Lady of the Wayside is split geographically into about 10 Smal Christian Communities). They meditate on the Gospel for the next week, receive feedback from the regular Church Council meetings and visit anyone in their community who is sick. The church runs a pre-school and provides some HIV/AIDS support. They have some farmland, and a piggery nearby. In the church grounds they have erected buildings for a grinding mill and oil press. These buildings were largely built using labour and materials provided by parishioners. The parishioners manage and run these activities in order to provide income for the church.
This year income has been an issue so they have concentrated on the sunflower crop. They will also probably grind maize for local people and might buy maize to grind for extra income.
Please pray for our friends in Monze as they struggle with the pandemic. They are hoping for some vaccine before too long, without it they are extremely vulnerable to the disease.