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Feb5ThuA look inside the Army's mission in Liberia, Malawi and Zimbabwe. February 5, 2015 by Heather Osmond and Matthew Osmond, Photographer
February marks the beginning of the 2015 Partners in Mission campaign to support the work of The Salvation Army around the world. This year, we are focusing on our partner territories in Africa—Liberia, Malawi and Zimbabwe—where they face significant economic challenges. Our financial support helps maintain the Army's infrastructure so our partners can respond to the needs of their communities for food security, clean water, health care, livelihoods and education. In countries where life is so tenuous, prayer is not a last but a first resort as they depend on God and have experienced his faithfulness. As they pray for us, let us pray for them and give generously.
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I first travelled to Zimbabwe in 2008 and immediately fell in love with the beautiful country and the wonderful people. In 2014, I was invited to return with Major Gillian Brown, director of world missions, to witness more of The Salvation Army's work in our partner territory. The following photos will give you a glimpse into the challenges people in Zimbabwe face every day and how the Army is responding.
When I first visited Zimbabwe, the economic crisis was at its height and complicated elections were looming. There was a sense of worry and desperation in many of the people I met. On this trip, I saw again how the officers, soldiers and lay people of the Zimbabwe Territory work extremely hard to help others, often giving sacrificially from their own limited resources. I witnessed how the world missions department works alongside the leaders in our partner territory to learn how we can best support them in their ministry. As we pray and give to the Partners in Mission appeal, we can offer tangible assistance. God is still using the Army all over the world. This trip reminded me of his faithfulness and the work he still has for us to do together.
Mothers in Malawi: The Salvation Army seeks government funding for three-year mother and child health project
Last November, the Canadian government issued a call for proposals for international development projects to support maternal, newborn and child health. The Salvation Army world missions department submitted a proposal for an initiative in the Upper Shire valley in Malawi, an area identified by the Malawi Territory as particularly impoverished, where few churches or organizations are working.
A needs assessment conducted in the Mangochi District found that women in these communities lack access to reproductive health education, prenatal care, skilled attendants during labour and delivery, and postpartum care. The nearest hospital is about 15 kilometres away, and women in labour are often carried there on stretchers made from tree branches, rope and a mat. Most give birth on the way.
Families in this region depend on farming for food and income, but are often unable to harvest enough to carry them through to the next growing season. Many children are underweight or malnourished, at risk of developing serious disease, or even death.
In January, world missions began phase one of a mother and child health project to respond to these needs and address the underlying causes. A literacy program is reinforcing health education. Training in conservation agriculture is addressing food insecurity. A village savings-and-loans program is generating much-needed income and supporting livelihoods. This initial project will lay the foundation for a larger, three-year project expected to begin in May 2015.
—Major Gillian Brown
Orphans in Liberia: The Army provides practical and pastoral support for children affected by the Ebola epidemic
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has claimed the lives of more than 5,000 people, many of them parents, leaving thousands of orphaned children. In the past, extended family often provided informal foster care to those affected by years of civil war, but now, relatives are fearful of contracting the virus. The number of children on the street has increased dramatically.
“There is no one to care for them and they are very afraid,” says Major Samuel Amponsah, general secretary, Liberia Command.
In January, the Canada and Bermuda Territory began partnering with the Liberia Territory to provide practical and pastoral support for the orphans and vulnerable children affected by the epidemic. As part of a child-protection co-ordination group, The Salvation Army worked with others to determine their needs and how best to respond. The program provides grief counselling, life-skills training and seeks to reduce the stigma associated with the virus.
—Major Gillian Brown