For ten years St Michael’s has been steadily building links of friendship with the Anglican Diocese of Newala and its community. In the same year as St Michael’s celebrated its centenary the Diocese of Newala, was carved out of the massive Diocese of Masasi in the far south of Tanzania, and it was looking for new friends.
Newala, bordering Mozambique, is not well connected by roads; water is scarce except in the rainy season; cashew nuts are the main cash crop; many farmers depend on them for cash income. Offshore oil and gas, being exploited near the port of Mtwara, offer great economic potential, with risks, for all Tanzania. Masasi Diocese is a historic centre of Christian mission but the population of Newala Diocese is no more than a third Christian and another third Muslim, living peacefully together.
VISITING FRIENDS FROM NEWALA
The Bishop of Newala Diocese, Rt. Revd. Oscar Mnung’a visited us in 2011 and thanked us for our efforts. Sister Helen, senior member in Newala of the Order of Sisters of Mary, spent time with us in 2012 and encouraged help with projects for teenagers.
Dr Lawi Issa, former hospital director, and his wife Molle, an experienced midwife, visited us in 2013 to tell us about their plans to re-open a Church hospital in a remote rural area. Expert advisers on projects we support in Newala have been George Mbesigwe, a senior government Education Officer, and Elizabeth Milanzi, founding Secretary of the Newala Diocesan Mothers’ Union and businesswoman. Both of them were able to visit us for three weeks in 2018 and made many new friends.
VISITING FRIENDS IN NEWALA
In summer 2013, a group of twelve from Bramhall visited Tanzania enjoying hospitality, visiting projects, churches and schools. They helped build toilets for a Mtwara primary school and taught English, met congregation members, joined in Church services, and organised a great sports day.
At Newala Town up on the Makonde plateau where the Bishop is based, they visited schools, teaching and organising sports, showing teenagers how to use the educational puppets we had brought for them. They visited the Lulindi Health Centre and the beautiful Cathedral in neighbouring Masasi Diocese.
A final week was spent on the coast and visiting Zanzibar, a time to talk about and digest their wonderful experience in Newala. We are planning a further group visit to Newala for 2021.
SUPPORTING OUR FRIENDS IN NEWALA
Our Link is about friendship, understanding and growth in faith, but practical help from Bramhall to a materially much poorer community in Newala is also a vital part. Members of St Michael’s have joined in every sort of fundraising.
As a first try at fundraising in 2010 members of our Mothers’ Union agreed to organise three annual cake sales to raise £600. From that small beginning we have gone on to organise quizzes, concerts, Tanzanian evenings of food and entertainment, virtual gift Christmas cards, sponsored walks; Sunday breakfasts for the congregation. Over three years an annual Open Garden has raised almost £1800. Substantial funds have come from a vegetable stall, supplied with produce from our gardeners. New ways of raising funds are always being looked for.
BUILDING CHURCH AND COMMUNITY
Tiny amounts of money, by Bramhall standards, can make possible all sorts of developments in Newala. Below are some of the projects we have financed through the generosity of people in Bramhall
· £200 for corrugated iron completed a village church;
· £100 for an isolated Christian village funded a herd of goats to provide milk, meat and long-term cash income.
· A motorbike enabled a priest to visit and support remote parishes.
· Seven old sewing machines meant young girls could earn money for school fees through sewing. Women are the micro-economic and community welfare entrepreneurs of Tanzania.
· We funded successful Mothers Union investments of only £200 each in a tie dye business, building a shop, buying chairs and tables for hiring out for social and business events.
· On MU advice we embarked on a much bigger project to bring water within easy reach of a succession of rural villages through construction of Water harvesting tanks (storing rainy season downfalls). £2500 in funding has now secured harvesting tanks in three villages. We aim to fund one a year.
· Many primary school children go to school with empty stomachs. We wanted to help parents organise school porridge breakfasts. £1500 from us each year has funded porridge breakfast for well over 2500 children in five primary schools in the Diocese improving concentration and effective learning. Our idea has now been taken up by the Ministry of Education.
· At Lulindi Health Centre we funded medicines, building work, and medical equipment to help the hospital build services.
· Our biggest project, not complete until we find or borrow another £10,000, is a twelve bed hostel in the Cathedral grounds which will provide a safe and comfortable rest house for visitors to Newala and a steady income to the Diocese for its community welfare services.
Our group meetings (every two months) are open to all. This is where we organise and plan fundraising events. Please join us and share some new ideas. Above all, join us in prayer for our friends in Newala.
To find out more, contact the office who will put you in touch with the coordinating group.