During this season of Lent, Catholics around the world spend time fasting and praying, reflecting on the passion of Jesus, and looking towards their communities with the eyes of Christ. Here in Malawi, the Catholic church in Thondwe is doing the same, and this year their Lenten fasting has affected Namikango Mission. The women of the church gathered together to discuss Namikango’s maternity clinic, which is still closed pending repairs from last month’s fire. Many of these women have used the clinic in the past to ensure strong pre-natal care and healthy births. The women were concerned that the clinic has remained closed for so long, noting that Thondwe women must now travel to Zomba in order to receive medical care for themselves and their babies. After much discussion, the women decided to take action.
They organized a women’s march from the town of Namadzi to Thondwe, a distance of about fifteen miles, to raise awareness for the clinic and to fundraise for the repairs. On Saturday, March 10, this women’s group took to the highway and began their fundraiser, walking through rain and cold weather. Once they arrived to Namikango’s campus they took turns relating their experiences with the maternity clinic, expressing their gratitude to Namikango for providing such a valuable service, and begging us to reopen as soon as possible. They talked about the healthy children they now have because of the care they received, and mentioned the women in their church who are now pregnant and needing a safe place to deliver. In addition to their financial gift, they also gave mops, buckets, and soap to the clinic in an effort to show their solidarity with the mission and their desire for interdenominational cooperation.
We know that often throughout history there has been a strained relationship between different denominations and ways of approaching God. The result of these strained relations is that each church denomination cares for its own people, and this division hurts communities. However, last Saturday the Catholic women of Thondwe reached out to their Church of Christ neighbors with compassion and grace and showed us the love of God. As the psalmist says, “How good is it, when brothers and sisters live together in unity?”