Claire Colcord and Christian Ciobanu are two of our eight shalom interns from Drew University, and are assigned to Malawi to help the United Methodist Church of Mzuzu start develop a new ShalomZone in the city. I have posted two of their reflections below:

Hi colleagues in Shalom from Mzuzu:

Africa is both more and less than I expected – the city of Mzuzu is in fact a bustling metro area with downtown shops and business, outlying offices and markets and a hospital, clinics and loads of “top up” stands to recharge one’s cell phone batteries (since having electricity is still a luxury in more rural areas). I’m impressed by the graciousness of the people and by the laundry lists of needs. I’m distressed by the sexism and apparent neglect of education among nearly half of the people who don’t send their kids to school, even though the government supplies schools for primary (elementary) students. Sometimes these schools are far away and kids must walk but the other problem is that they are overpopulated – in Zowe there were 2 classrooms (approx 12′ x 15′) and 3 teachers for 675 students. Though writing notebooks cost less than 8 cents, only one in 20 students have one and some of those are missing the requisite pencils to write in them.

These are today’s issues on my heart as we begin today to work with our site supervisor to begin to scope our Zone for physical and individual resources.

God’s glory is evident all around us – each night the stars have put on an awesome show for us – the milky way is clearly visible! And the landscape is incredible though we have yet to see a wild creature – the locals tell us they’ve all been eaten long ago!

Claire Colcord

Greetings from Mzuzu, Malawi Africa!

The trip has been quite intense.

Since last week, I have visited the Mzuzu Prison to distribute toothbrushes, St. Augustine’s HIV/AIDS clinic, Geisha Well (a small well in rural Malawi), Zowe (an extremely small town that has one small clinic), and of course, the local United Methodist Church. The Church is a one-room shack where about 50-70 members of the local village attend every Sunday.

In terms of my tasks, I have been assigned the tasks to help raise money for a local sewing business that some of the women of the UMC are trying to start in the local village, as well as an egg laying business (a business in which the local villagers can sell chicken eggs) to the markets in downtown Mzuzu.

Currently, I am trying to find small businesses and local foundations to provide startup capital to help these businesses. I am also trying to plan some type of meeting with the community leaders. I have been discussing these ideas with Claire who is also helping me. Well, I hope all is well.

Christian Ciobanu