Swaziland teachers make epic journey to link parish

Published: 25 Oct 2012 13:000 comments

A mission link between between a Church of Ireland parish in Fermanagh and a community in Swaziland in Africa, had turned full circle this week when the principal and a teacher from a primary school there made an historic visit to the county this week.

Canon Arthur Barrett hosting the visit by the Rev. Abraham Gama and Mina Mkhwanazi to Rossorry Parish during the past week.

Canon Arthur Barrett hosting the visit by the Rev. Abraham Gama and Mina Mkhwanazi to Rossorry Parish during the past week.

Three years ago, the seed for a mission link project were sown by the Director of USPG Ireland, Linda Chambers, during a harvest thanksgiving address in Rossorry Parish Church. After several fundraising ventures, the church began supporting the work of the charity in Swaziland, linking with Ingwempisana Primary School, where the Rev. Abraham Gama is Principal and also non-stipendiary minister of St. John the Baptist Anglican church nearby.

A team of 14 parishioners from Rossorry Church took part in a mission trip to Swaziland in July this year, helping to establish a new library and working with the pupils of the school as well as helping to improve the buildings at another school.

Last weekend, the Rev. Abraham and another teacher from Ingwempisana Primary School, Ms Mina Mkhwanazi arrived in Rossorry Parish to begin a week of ministry and visiting schools and organisations including attending harvest thanksgiving services throughout the weekend.

It was an epic journey for the Swaziland teachers, as they had never flown before. Their trip has been supported by the Rossorry Mission Team who had raised money for the link project through a series of fundraising events.

The Rev. Gama and Mina earlier this week visited Jones Memorial Primary School, as well as Devenish College and South West College and also made a visit to the South West Acute Hospital.

The Rev. Abraham also accompanied the rector of Rossorry, the Rev. Arthur Barrett to the Clogher Diocesan Clergy Conference which has been taking place in Dunfanaghy since Tuesday.

At a harvest lunch in Rossorry Hall on Sunday, the Rev. Abraham and Mina spoke of their immense gratitude to be given the opportunity to travel 8,000 miles from their homes to Fermanagh to understand the western culture.

They had never seen the sea before and were astonished at the greenery of the fields and forests but felt extremely cold in our mild October weather this week.

During July, the Rossorry Mission Trip members experienced a typical winter in Swaziland, the mornings and evenings were cool but the temperatures during the day rose to over 20 degrees C. It was also a brown and scorched landscape as they awaited the spring rains to help grow crops.

The educational establishments in Swaziland are severely underfunded. Asked during the parish lunch what their greatest need was, both the Rev. Abraham and Mina referred to practical measures such as a perimeter fence around Ingwempisana School to keep out animals, to extend the electricity supply to all classrooms as there was only electricity in the school office at present and to have a reliable water supply. At present they ask the Government for tanker loads of water to help cook and wash with.

Another item on their wish list is a health clinic close to the school grounds to facilitate the many children and their families who travel to the school.

Whenever the need for a regular food supply to provide the hot school meal each day is added, the list of needs is lengthening.

However one aspect of both the Rossorry trip to Swaziland and the return trip by the Rev. Abraham and Mina was evident; that faith plays a huge part in the lives of people in Swaziland. With few material goods, they praise God for what they have, even though it sometimes is very little.

And it is praising God that the people of Swaziland are well known, their loud and harmonious singing without music, an amazing experience to hear.

Both the Rev. Abraham and Mina have thanked the people of Rososrry for giving them the opportunity to share in their worship, to visit their schools, see their country in the glory of autumn splendour last weekend. They return home this weekend, filled with plenty of ideas but also acknowledging the thoughts of the parishioners in their link parish in Rossorry.

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