Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Dzaleka Refugee Camp

"But oh! When gloomy doubts prevail, I fear to call Thee mine.  The springs of comfort seem to fail, And all my hopes decline. Yet gracious God where shall I flee? Thou art my only trust. And still my soul would cleave to Thee though prostrate in the dust"

 Linda(student)Patience-DRC refugee, Enettie(student) Deborah-DRC refugee

"Hast thou not bid me seek Thy face, and shall I seek in vain? And can the ear of sovereign grace, be deaf when I complain? No, still the ear of sovereign grace, attends the mourner's prayer. Oh may I ever find access, to breathe my sorrows there."-verses from "Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul" -Steele

Last Saturday, we traveled with 45 students and staff to Dzaleka refugee camp in Dowa, fifty minutes north of Lilongwe. Dzaleka used to be a Malawian prison, and now hosts up to 11, 000 refugees. We were granted special access to the camp for the day. We listened to people's stories and prayed with them.  Mingoli, our jazz ensemble, played a concert.

This was the most emotional experience we've had since arriving in August. Yes, we live across the street from many villages without power or running water, but villages are fundamentally different. These refugees suffered unspeakable trauma, and are far from their homes.

Refugees at Dzaleka are not permitted to leave or do any income producing work. They are lonely and afraid. Prostitution is prevalent, and the percentage of those with HIV is staggering.

 Food is provided by the World Food Programme although distribution is problematic. We were told that the resettlement program is full of corruption. Only those who can offer bribes are relocated to permanent homes.

 We traveled around the camp with five students and a couple translators. Our students were incredibly effected by this experience. For most, this was their first time crossing cultures. The languages were unfamiliar, and the reality of the refugee situation was upsetting.

We met two sisters who fled the Congo with two younger brothers just six months ago. When we asked them to tell their story, they couldn't. They explained that the past was too horrible to speak about. The girls hugged us and cried.

Next, we met a family that was expecting their second baby. They were fearing for the baby and mother because her first delivery was a C-section. The father was close to crying when he asked us to pray that this second child would deliver naturally. I could barely hold it together. I was sitting on a dirt floor hut, looking at a woman about my age, praying for the life of her baby.

The concert was in the afternoon. The children loved singing and dancing with the music. You can see their smiles in the photos. Jonathan gave a brief Gospel talk with Swahili translation.

This Thanksgiving we are thankful. We see that God is present with those who suffer the most. We wait for the day when every tear will be wiped from all of our eyes. But for now, we're a long way from home.

Friday, November 12, 2010

grandparent post

Pics of our kids over the past month....

JJ's 5th Birthday -Chicken Nugget Celebration.

 "mom, can you make a smile cake?" -yes, yes I can. So glad he didn't say optimus prime...

 homemade pita bread

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Out of Lilongwe

Prayer House Ministry (10-24-10)
Abusa Tembo(center with collar),  Church Elders,  
Jonathan and Kelly (right)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Kodaly Lilongwe

Music update:

In graduate school I studied a Hungarian methodology for teaching musical literacy by using indigenous folk music. (Kodaly) When I taught a music education course at African Bible College in 2009, I met a student from Lilongwe named Lackson Chazima who is incredibly gifted.

Since then, Lackson has studied briefly in Spain and helped train a small group of Malawians who now teach for an international group called Music Crossroads. My colleague Kelly Dehnert, and one our our seniors, Linda Chiyani and I visited their music training school last week. (on a very warm afternoon!)

I was about in tears with happiness and excitement to see how well the trainers have been educated and how beautifully they were presenting the lesson. It was helpful for me to see in person how effective the Kodaly methodology has become in Malawi even on a small scale.

In the near future, ABC would like to join this effort of training teachers in music education. I'm happy to be teaching the college's first official music education course next semester. There is currently no such degree offered in the country.

Please pray for us as we seek to build partnerships and learn from what is already happening in Lilongwe. Please pray for us as we identify and invest in the talented students that God brings to us at ABC.  Please also pray that we would have wisdom in this process of possibly growing a music degree program at the college.

Gladson, me, Julia, Marlyn, Linda, and Lackson
Kodaly teachers of Lilongwe