News from Monze

Monze News, September 2022

News from Monze December 2022

My visit to Monze went by for too quick! 4 weeks might seem a long time for many, but with so much to catch up with, I needed at least double that time. I have a lot of friends in Monze with many challenges and projects – I was rarely without visitors to my temporary home and it's lovely garden. I was even able to play host to nearly 20 members of St. Veronica's Small Christian Community for our Sunday prayers.

It was good to meet again with Fr.Wilson and the parishioners of Our Lady of the Wayside. It was a joy to able to join the congregation in the celebration of the mass with all the singing and dancing. Zambia has only recently relaxed the COVID restrictions so it was even more poignant. I have been very careful over the last 3 years to avoid COVID myself and was pleased to get my 4th dose of vaccine just before leaving the UK.

Zambia is not immune from the economic problems caused by the pandemic and by the war in Ukraine. Prices have risen and for those struggling anyway, the challenges are enormous.

The church has struggled to cover the bills. A few month's ago repairs were needed to the oil press costing about £150 which they couldn't finance. For as long as I can remember Our Lady of the Wayside has had a pre-school. This is very important because without it the children struggle to keep up when they start school. Fr. Wilson says that they are thinking of closng the pre-school because they are struggling to pay the workers. There are two workers who receive about £100 a month between them!

It has been difficult recently raising any funds for Our Lady of the Wayside at St Gregory's. It is clear that relatively small amounts can make a big difference. Perhaps this Christmas we can remember our friends in Zambia. You can still donate using the parish Projects envelopes.

Last week I received the terrible news that my dear friend Jennipher had been killed in a car accident. Some parishioners will remember meeting Jennipher when she visited in 2014. She did a lot to support people living with HIV/AIDs and will be greatly missed by many. Please remember her and her children in your prayers. May she rest in peace.

Chris Barrell

Talapia Fingerlings

Monze News, September 2022

I arrived in Monze on 23rd September

Greetings from Monze.


It seems so long since my last visit and of course in many ways our world is very different to that which we inhabited 3 years ago. As you can see from the posters in the Old Priory some good friends are no longer with us. I also have to let you know of the sad and tragic death of Fr. Kenan who visited St. Gregory's in 2007.

On a happier note Fr. Raphael, a priest who served at Our Lady of the Wayside and was a great friend to St. Gregory's was consecrated as the new Bishop of Monze earlier this year – an event at which the President of Zambia was present.

Our Lady of the Wayside has had huge challenges with the pandemic including a reduction in income. It has therefore been even more important to develop projects which help them to provide the funds necessary to function. This has included fish farming which St Gregory's parishioners helped to establish.


I am very much looking forward to seeing the projects, but most of all I am looking forward to meeting the many friends that I have made over the years.


Since our link established 15 years ago with help from Fr. Kenan, we have had a opportunity to discover a little more about a community in Sub-Saharan Africa and for them to learn a little more about us. Special links have been established between the children of the parishes. We have also made other connections – including between members of the Legion of Mary in Monze and in Cheltenham. I am very privileged to have the opportunity to spend time in Zambia - nearly 4 years in total. I gain so much on each visit and learn a little mre about a very different way of life. I hope that our parishioners also feel that they have a special connection with Our Lady of the Wayside and want to learn more.


I would like to welcome everyone to join me on my visit. I write a blog almost daily while I am in Monze, recording my meetings with friends and other happenings. You can follow me at or contact me at

More details can be found on the noticeboard in the Old Priory.

Chris Barrell

Talapia Fingerlings

Monze News, Easter 2022

As we approach Holy Week I find myself recalling the wonderful Easters that I have spent in Zambia. The Palm Sunday processions through town. Joining with other Christian Communities people walk together, then peal off at each church, with a friendly wave of the palms picked from local trees. The beauty of the solemn Tridium services, culminating in the lovely outdoor Easter Vigil mass with its joyous singing, dancing and clapping. After which the parishioners carry the candles to take Christ's light back to their homes.


The COVID pandemic has made all our lives difficult, but it has clearly had most impact on the poorest and most vulnerable. We have seen this in the UK. In places like Zambia, where so many are literally wondering where their next meal will come from, life has been very tough. Unlike us they have not had an excess of vaccines and the population is very vulnerable.

The parishioners at Our Lady of the Wayside have worked very hard by creating income generating projects to try to keep going and look after those extremely vulnerable – see the  picture of the field of soya which they will harvest in a month or so - but they need our help. They have specifically asked if we could help them by funding a large fish pond and stock it with Tilapia (“St. Peter's fish”).

Please can we make a final effort this Lent at least to cover the cost of this project. If you would like to give a donation - £5 would buy 100 Tilapia fingerlings (baby fish). Please use the Parish Project envelopes.

There are envelopes in church and I am happy to deliver to anyone wanting one. Donations should be placed in the envelopes and posted through the presbytery letterbox.

Thank You,

Chris Barrell 01242 513992

Talapia Fingerlings

Monze News, March 2022

Lent Appeal - Our Lady od the Wayside

Our friends at Our Lady of the Wayside have a new venture – FISH FARMING!

They are asking us to provide funds to enable them to build a large fish pond which will be big enough for 7,000 Tilapia – claimed by some to be the fish St. Peter caught with a shekel in it's mouth.

It has been very difficult for the Parish of Our Lady of the Wayside over the past couple of years. The church has a number of projects generating money for the church, but they have not fully covered their costs. We have been asked if we could try to raise about £2,500 to help them with the pond and to put them in a good position for the future.

St Gregory's was able to help stock a smaller pond and prepare a field for planting Soya beans at the end of last year. Last month Fr. Wilson has sent a report about these projects together with the above request.

Fish farming seems to be very profitable. A tilapia fingerling (baby fish) costs about 5p and, after 5 months, sells for about 50p. (They do have to be fed, but still return about 4 times the outlay including food.)

Any donation can be thought of in terms of Tilapia fingerlings. 100 fingerlings for £5 – then, after 5 months, your Tilapia will be sold for £50.

This is an opportunity to multiply your donation for the benefit of our friends in Monze.

It would be wonderful if we could hit the £2,500 target and it would mean so much to the parishioners at Our Lady of the Wayside during these difficult times.

Donations should be put in the Parish Projects envelopes. Please tick Monze and, if possible, complete the Gift Aid Declaration. Please place envelopes in the presbytery letterbox. Envelopes are available at the back of church, but if required I am happy to delver envelopes to parishioners.

Best wishes,

Chris Barrell - phone: 01242-513992 e-mail:

Talapia Fingerlings

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.

Chris Barrell

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.

Thank you,

Chris Barrell

.Find out more about Hands around the World at Read my blog at

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.

.Find out more about Hands around the World at Read my blog at

Our Lady of the Wayside - February 2020

As with countries throughout the world, Zambia has been struggling with the Coronavirus Pandemic. The number of cases appears to be smaller than for many countries, however it is likely that the numbers underestimate the true extent of the virus. Most people will not receive tests or even treatment - especially in the rural areas.

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.