by Sharon Adams
On January 10th 2016 I had the privilege of traveling to South Africa and Zimbabwe with 38 fellow travelers most of whom were from the South Carolina Conference. We also spent time in Botswana and Johannesburg. The main purpose of the trip was to visit Africa University and Old Mutare Mission which includes an orphanage and a small hospital which serves that rural area. Upon our arrival Africa University choir sang for us during the banquet at the Peacock Hotel where we were introduced to the Vice Chancellor, Dr. Manashe Furusa and staff from the university. The next day we spent time listening to the Vice Chancellor share major milestones for the university as well as the vision for the future. We were especially moved to hear about the needs for a student life center to help meet the social needs of students. Africa University is in the middle of a valley in the middle of nowhere. There are no places besides the campus for the students to go.
We also heard heartbreaking stories of many students about their struggles to get an education. Many had come from as far away as the Congo. Many had lost one or both parents. Many talked about the struggles of their family not having the funds to give them an education and they celebrated Africa University’s mission and support. We heard heartbreaking stories about suicide among young women in Africa because there is very little hope of having a future. The only option is to marry and have many children. There are few career options.
We also had an opportunity to visit the Children’s Home, the orphanage which is the oldest missionary site of the Methodist Church. There is also a hospital on the grounds with a physician who is supported by GBGH. There again our hearts were broken to hear many struggles of the hospital to serve the children, the university and their rural community. Pregnant women often come weeks before their due date to ensure they will be there when it’s time to deliver because they have to travel long distances to reach the hospital and transportation is limited. The orphanage serves as many as 80 children at any given. The staff consist of House Mothers who live in the houses with the children. Due to limited funds many House Mothers go unpaid yet they continue to care for the children. We also learned that education is not free in Africa and it cost about $255 per year for each of the children. While there is some support through Advance Specials, most fees go unpaid and the bill is mounting for the orphanage.
It is my hope that I can champion the cause of Africa University and the Orphanage to share with our conference the great need for our continuous support and to encourage individuals, groups and churches to include Africa University in their Missions effort. No amount is too small and every dollar impacts the lives of many. You can give support through the Africa University website or through GBGM Advance Specials.
The Rev. Sharon Adams is pastor of Faith and St. Paul UMCs in Mooresville. Her recent trip to Africa University was paid for in part by a grant from the WNCC Justice and Reconciliation Team. If you wish to learn more about Africa University and how you can help this great institution, contact Sharon at 704 664-5493 or firstname.lastname@example.org.