By Chrispine Nthezemu Kamanga
St. John of God Hospitaller Services in Malawi celebrated its Silver Jubilee from 29th October to 1 November 2019. Activities to mark the 25 years of existence took place in Lilongwe and in Mzuzu.
In Lilongwe, on 29th October, His Grace TG Ziyaye, who was the guest of honour and Br. Jesus Etayo the Order’s Prior General, blessed and officially opened the last phase of the magnificent buildings meant for clients, staff members and the Brothers of St. John of God.
The following buildings were dedicated during Silver Jubilee celebrations include the chapel (St. Josephine Bakhita), the Addiction and recovery rehabilitation centre (Molinos), the Brother’s community house (St. Augustine), the Administration block (The Lawrence Kearns building), and centre for Living (the Anton Martin building). The ceremony was well attended by the surrounding parish community (St. Patrick’s), co-workers, politicians, co-workers and invited guests both from within the country and abroad. In his teaching, His Grace Archbishop TG Ziyaye emphasised the need of helping the poor and the under-privileged without conditions. His homily was based on the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).
On Wednesday, the 30th of October, the celebrations focused on a mental health conference to celebrate and commemorate 25 years of hospitality in Malawi, a quarter of a century of active participation in Psychiatry in the Country. The conference had four main presentations: Addiction and recovery services, suicide and suicide prevention, maternal mental health and the collaboration of mental health services in Malawi between St. John of God Hospitaller Services and the government of Malawi through the Zomba Mental Hospital.
Dr. Charles Mwasambo, the chief of Health services in Ministry of Health, who was the guest of honour said that such academic conversation should open a window of more engagements among the mental health experts in issues that are affecting the country today.
He mentioned suicide, addiction and maternal mental health as current issues to be addressed seriously.
To crown the celebrations, there was a thanksgiving Eucharistic celebration at St. Peter’s Cathedral in Mzuzu which was presided over by his Lordship, Bishop John Ryan of Mzuzu diocese on 1st November 2019. Among the concelebrants of the Mass were the bishop of Karonga Diocese, Bishop Martin Mtumbuka and Br. Jesus Etayo the Order’s Prior General from Rome. All the Brothers of St. John of God present during the Eucharistic carried a script in a liturgical procession where their entry to Malawi and their work for the past 25 years was documented. Bishop Ryan, received the history and handed it over to Br Samuel Mithi to read to the audience.
The Eucharistic Celebration was followed by reception in the John Roche hall at St. John of God college of Health Sciences. Of particular importance, at this function, apart from sharing of the meal, the five Malawian pioneer co-workers were honoured and recognised. Of the five, three retired (Harris Chilale, Angelline Jenda and Maxwell Chirwa), one is still working with St. John of God Hospitaller Services (Esnart Lungu) and one was honoured posthumously (Rose Nyasulu)
The Jubilee celebrations in the Capital and in Mzuzu city can be rated as a very successful, based on the comments from many of the participants. The success is as a result of support and good will from the Bishop of Mzuzu, the Provincial of West European Province (Br. Donatus Forkan) and the Prior General, Br. Jesus Etayo from Rome.
The presence of Br. Brian O’Donnell, the former prior general who commissioned the first brothers and co-workers to come and start the mission in Mzuzu, spiced up the event. Further, the activities were not only attended by the co-workers and members of the Catholic Church but also religious leaders of other denomination. There were also two African Provincials (St. Augustine and St. Richard Pampuri), representatives from the French province, donors, government officials,the Mayor of Mzuzu city, clergy and Christians of other denominations, traditional healers and traditional leaders who graced the occasion.
By Nthezemu Kamanga, Pastoral Care Coordinator
The year 2019 will be remembered forever in the history of St. John of God Hospitaller Services in Malawi. This is the year that the service has clocked 25 year of its existence among the people of the country since its inception in 1994. Five core values of the order have been instrumental in this journey: Hospitality, compassion, respect, excellence and Justice.
We read in history of the Hospitaller Brothers belonging to West European province and also hear from those who were there in 1988 that the mission to Malawi is a fruit of a resolution at a General Chapter in Rome that “the most urgent call on Hospitaliy today is from the developing area of the world, namely Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania.” With this call, the brothers in Ireland responded positively to come and start the mission in Malawi.
Monsignor John Roche, who by then was the Apostolic Administrator of Mzuzu Diocese formally invited the brothers to respond to the great social need of the diocese, that is psychiatry. Indeed by early 1990’s Malawi had only one government mental health facility in Zomba which is at a distance of approximately 800 KM from the north.
From the humble beginnings within the premises of St. John’s Mission Hospital, St. John of God has grown massively in the past 25 years. Currently, St. John of God is caring and treating people with mental illness on residential and domiciliary care basis, the elderly, children found in and on the street of Mzuzu, children with disabilities, and people with different addictions. Further, the organisation is running Institute for Vocational Training (IVT) in order to give a skill to clients recuperating from mental illness and the vulnerable youth. This is done in collaboration with Technical Entrepreneurial and Vocational Education and Training (TEVET). Related to this, the Order is running the college of health Sciences having 2 diplomas and 2 degrees. Apart from treatment, some clients have also been assisted to furthers their secondary and tertiary education.
Situated in Mzuzu, St. John of God expanded its service to Lilongwe by first opening a community program treatment centre within the premises of Likuni Mission Hospital in 2012 before moving to its own residential unit in Area 43, next to Immanuel Teachers Training College (TTC).
As we celebrate 25 Years of our existence in Malawi, 305 co-workers and many volunteers are involved in the hospitality mission on daily basis, we have more than 250 students in the college, 9 candidates for brotherhood, 3 postulants, 6 novices, 5 temporary professed brothers and 1 brother in final vows.
We remember with fond memories the initial steps and foundation of the Hospitaller Order in Malawi which were set up by Br. Aidan Clohesy and the laity personnel he came with From Ireland. Upon their arrival, they recruited five first Malawians to be involved in the work of Hospitality. One of these pioneers (Esnart Lungu) is still working at the OPD clinic in Mzuzu. The other three (Harris Chilale, Angeline Jenda, and Maxwell Chirwa) retired from the service and one (Rose Nyasulu) died. We Honour and celebrate the lives of our pioneers.
The event to mark the 25 years of existence will be celebrated in three days: on 29th October, the Archbishop T. Ziyaye together with the Prior General, Br. Jesus Etayo will lead the people in blessing the new buildings which include the brothers community house (St. Augustine), the chapel (St. Josephine Bakhita), the administration block (Lawrence Kearns Centre), Centre for Living (Anton Martin) and the addiction and Recovery (Molinus Centre). On 30th October, there will be a mental health conference entitled “No Health Without Mental Health” where three main presentations will be made on Maternal Health, Addiction and recovery, and Suicide. To climax it all, there will be silver Jubilee thanksgiving Mass at the Cathedral in Mzuzu led by Bishop John Ryan followed by a reception at John Roche hall at St. John of God college of Health Sciences.
Let us celebrate the gift of hospitality this year. We look back and smile at the successes as we are filled with the current determination of seeing our future with hope.
The 2018 Annual Report is now available for download on the link below:
By Vitumbiko Andrew Ngwira – Institute of Vocational Training and Child Development Centre social worker.
The Institute of Vocational Training Centre is a place where transformation is created and advanced. When I say transformation I refer to the total development on the human person. Apart from training learners in home management, tailoring, bricklaying, carpentry and horticulture, the institute offers a very conducive environment for learning. Students have counselling services, pastoral care, and access to the Saint John of God clinic. Since its establishment the institute has trained hundreds of poor women and men who are now living independent lives.
22 years old Cynthia Chirwa has a story to tell about the Institute of vocational Training. I followed Cynthia at her working place in NKhatabay, which is about 47 kilometres from Mzuzu. Coming from a very deprived family, Cynthia could not complete her secondary school education. Like many other poor girls and boys in Malawi, this meant that her future was blurred and promised very little. Cynthia never saw her dad; he died while she was a baby. Her mum has struggled to raise Cynthia and her elder sisters and brothers, without any job or stable business. Even a millionaire would find raising 7 children not an easy task. What about a jobless and poor woman?
Having tried many options in life, Cynthia decided to pursue a course in home management and catering at Saint John of God Institute of Vocational Training. This decision would be the beginning of her better days. The decision was taken because she could not afford to go to any college in Malawi due to lack of school fees. Saint John of God provided, the only option. For her this was an opportunity to utilize with total dedication.
Cynthia began her training in 2012, which lasted to 2014. The two years of her training went very fast and Cynthia recalls the day of graduation as the most significant day in her life. She not only achieved a certificate in Home management but also acquired values of hospitality, dignity, respect, compassion and excellence. Her life would be based on these values from then onwards.
Well, one might ask, ‘what you do with a certificate of Home management while others have degrees and diplomas in the same field?’ It doesn’t matter which college you went to or what type of degree you have. How you manage your life is the most important thing in life. After the completion of her studies, Cynthia got a job with the Mzuzu diocesan pastoral centre as a chef. Her hard work and commitment to work is a huge motivation to her work mates. A chat with the centre’s Director revealed that Cynthia is an important asset to their work force. She is reliable and works with great passion. The director also said that Cynthia has made a good name for the Institute of Vocational Training.
Cynthia is a happy woman. She cannot live a day without praying for girls and boys who are facing many challenges in their lives just like she did. She wishes for more institutions like Saint John of God that would bring hope to many poor people. She says that her life wouldn’t be the same without Saint John of God Institute of Vocational Training. Because of her current job, she is able to support her mum.
Her certificate in Home management is not the end of her dreams. She plans to make some savings and advance her education. She believes that one can only achieve his or her dream by showing great commitment in their present task and having realistic goals. I have no doubt that Cynthia will reach her goals. She is not only an encouragement for poor young people, but also she is also a source of hope and pride to the Saint John of God, especially, the Institute of Vocational Training.
Saint John of God Hospitaller Services announces the establishment of a Residential Addiction Recovery Centre in Mzuzu. This program, the first of its kind in Malawi runs for three weeks and involves a structured addiction rehabilitation program, clinical and nursing care, individual and family counselling, pastoral care, art and therapy. The Centre has recreation facilities such as a fully equipped Gymnasium, Television, games and reading materials.
The program exist to help clients and their families address drug and substance abuse problems, identify associated problems, change behaviours, set goals, prevent relapses and build resilience in the face of stressors in life.
The facility is open to all interested male and female, young and old who are grappling with addiction problems and have reached informed decision to change their lives.
For further information about the program, fees and mode of booking to enrol into the program please contact:
The Programme Manager
Saint John of God Hospitaller Services
PO Box 744
Physical Address: Katoto, off M1 Road to Karonga.
Telephone: 01 311 495/690/074
Fax: 01 311 213