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Showing posts from 2006

Christmas in Malawi

While it is cold and wintry here in the USA, it is the hot and rainy season in Malawi. From December through March, the ground is soft and broken up, new crops are planted, green leaves grow and flowers blossom. Because it rains almost everyday, flash flooding occurs from time to time, making the dirt roads in the country unreliable and food distribution difficult.

Seventy-five metric tons of USAID food aid arrived two weeks ago at our warehouse in Mzuzu, but we have not yet begun our distribution to the 40+ medical clinics, orphan care centers and social service agencies that have come to rely on CitiHope for protein-fortified supplements to their daily servings of maize. While we can’t do much about the delay, we are purchasing some basic food supplies for 30 AIDS orphans in two HopeHomes for Christmas.

A HopeHome is simply an extended family unit that receives nutritional food aid, medical assistance, and educational scholarships from external sources. It's hard enough for fam…

World AIDS Day

AIDS twenty-five years ago:

When I was an urban minister in San Francisco in 1981, I heard about a strange new form of cancer affecting gay men. The doctors called it “KS” and “GRIDS” (Gay Related Immune Deficiency Syndrome). By 1984, HIV was identified and the disease became known as AIDS—a deadly killer.

Patient Zero was identified in New York as the first carrier of the deadly virus. In 1983, Malcolm, the first person I knew who was living with AIDS, came to my church in San Francisco. In 1986 I performed my first AIDS funeral. In 1987, one of our Sunday School kids, Joey, got AIDS and died. By 1988, the number of AIDS cases in America reported to the CDC totaled 55,000. By 1991, a year after I had left my church to became an AIDS Chaplain, the cumulative number of AIDS infections in America had reached 270,000—most of whom had or would eventually die. The disease had doubled, and would continue doubling, every 18 months.

Global AIDS 25 years later:

Here are the alarming statist…

Thanksgiving in Malawi

Home for the holidays. This year, nine members of our family of 17 will sit down at the table for a delicious Thanksgiving Meal. When Dad cooks he doesn’t like to prepare a traditional turkey, mash potatoes and gravy dinner, but something more exotic. Last time it was curried lamb and mulligatawny soup. This year, it's curried shrimp (classic Indian and shrimp Korma), two types of dahl (green and red), six varieties of chuntney, a fresh fruit platter, nan bread and condiments.

Today, millions of American will enjoy an abundant meal topped off with pumpkin pie for dessert. Even in the soup kitchens of America, volunteers have donated and prepared turkey dinners for all who want to eat. As we give thanks for living in a land of plenty, let us pause a moment to remember that 60% of the world’s population will still be hungry at the end of today!

Here’s a simple way to visualize global poverty adapted from the folks at Oxfram relief and development agency: (sourc: Oxfam Hunger Banqu…

Post Election New Start

Post elections present opportunities to re-prioritize how to spend one's life, re-commit to important causes, re-affirm higher values and make a brand new start. On this first day after a decisive national election, when the future seems uncertain, I propose a simple action that could change your life. I signed and made an important pledge today in support of a worldwide movement to end extreme poverty and global AIDS in my lifetime. And I invite you to do so as well.

An impossible goal, you say? Perhaps. But suspend your disbelief for a moment and read on. Consider the possibilities. Dare to believe what could happen when critical mass of people of faith, good will and commited action are mobilized and deployed in the Name of God and Spirit of Christ. A critical mass of people of good will whose faith "is the substance of things hoped for, evidence of things not (yet) seen." (Hebrews 11:1)

Go to WWW.ONE.ORG "The Campaign to Make Poverty History."

Read the …

Election Day and the Poor

It’s Election Day and I intend to vote my conscience. Problem is my conscience is conflicted.

On the one hand, how can I reconcile my Christian faith with support for politicians who justify bloodshed in Iraq, torture for terrorists, hanging for convicted dictators, and trampling on the poor in order to build an Empire? On the other hand, how can I support politicians who engage in negative and vicious campaigns, take bribes, self-serve and corrupt themselves with power?

On the one hand, no President has done more than George W. Bush in 3rd world debt reduction and making AIDS drugs available and affordable in Africa. Prior to 2003, AIDS was an inevitable death sentence. Now, thanks to the Global Fund (which George W. deserve much credit for funding), millions of Africans don’t have to die. ARV treatment has now made AIDS a chronic disease for those who are able to access the protocals.

On the other hand, George W. is not my favorite President…and I don’t want to vote for those who suppo…

PACCT calls for Behavior Change to Counter AIDS

Persistent famines, pestilences, extreme poverty and civil warfare have wrecked havoc on the continent of Africa. Worldwide, 25 million persons have died of AIDS and 40 million are living with HIV disease. Sub-Sahara Africa suffers most from the AIDS pandemic where there are over 12 million AIDS orphans. If no corrective measures are taken now, it is estimated that Africa will have 20 million HIV/AIDS orphans by 2010.

Malawi, a relatively small country of 12 million, is particularly vulnerable to famine and disease, and suffers disproportionately from one of highest incidence of AIDS. Currently, AIDS infects 25%-33% of the population of Malawi, and accounts for over 85,000 deaths per year, leaving over 900,000 AIDS orphans in need of food and medical care. In spite of great efforts of large-scale AIDS awareness campaigns, what is missing is a carefully-targeted, grass-roots, faith-based, biblically-informed, theologically sound, practical approach to AIDS education and character dev…

A Moment of Kairos in San Francisco

Earlier this month, I was in San Francisco celebrating my past and future ministries. On October 6, 2006, Golden Gate Community, Inc. turned 25 years old. On that same day, I signed official papers registering WorldHope Corps as a new ministry. The next day, October 7, my youngest daughter turned 14, signaling another change in our family. The following week was the 25th Anniversary alumni celebration of my graduation from Yale Divinity School where I first felt called to international relief and development work during my first trip to Haiti to deliver emergency food provisions during a famine.

As I reflected on the timing of these seemingly unrelated events--the end of one era and the beginning of a new one--in my favorite city in all the world--if felt like syncrinicity--acausal effects somehow being connected. It felt like a special moment of kairos when past, present and future time all came together as one. Past ministry and future mission meeting in the present moment. Let …

First HopeHomes Sponsored

Mission Update: Through the generocity of Hopegivers International, we were able to sponsor the first HopeHome in Mzuzu, Malawi last week.

A HopeHome is simply an extended family unit that receives nutritional food aid medical assitance, and educational scholarships from external sources. Instead of adopting AIDS orphans from outside the country, our approach is to strenghten extended family units within the country of origin. It's hard enough for a family of five in Malawi to support themselves where extreme poverty prevails. It is almost impossible for nuclear families that have informally adopted another 10 or so orphans to care for their basic needs. But many families in Malawi are willing to do this, and we want to help them do it. That's why we found a way to sponsor the first HopeHome in Mzuzu.

Since 2003, CitiHope has provided emergency food and life-saving medicine to 1000 orphans in four day-care centers (feeding outposts) in Malawi on a daily bases. In additi…

Madonna Adopts Baby in Malawi

Madonna Adopts AIDS orphan in Malawi?
Her baby boy is just one in a million in Malawi!

Controversial pop superstar, Madonna, who offended Christians this last Spring when she staged a mock crucifixion during her world concert tour, declared her intention to donate a million dollars to support an Orphan Care Center in Malawi. Then she announced her desire to adopt a motherless baby boy from "Home of Hope" Orphanage run by the Presbyterian Church of Central Africa in Malawi. Now that she has custody of David Banda, she wants to build a new orphanage for some of the 800,000-1,000,000 remaining orphans and abandoned children in Malawi. Her intentions and efforts, however controversial, have succeeded in calling world attention to this tiny, Pennsylvania-size country of 12 million people in central sub-Sahara Africa.

The tragic story of David Banda, whose mother died of AIDS and whose father left him at the orphange when he was two weeks old, mirrors that of thousands of other or…

Presbyterian Pastors Receive AIDS Training

News Archieve: PACCT Program Launched in Malawi

Pastoral And Congregational Care Training (PACCT) began in September in Malawi as part of the on-going relief and development efforts of CitiHope International—one of the ministries supported by Y-Malawi at Central Presbyterian Church.

Forty pastors and community leaders participated in the three-day PACCT Workshop, including: 20 Presbyterian ministers selected by the Livingstonia Synod of the Church of Central Africa; four ministers from United Methodist, Assembly of God and Adventist churches; and representatives of the Malawi Ministry of Heath, Ministry of Education, National AIDS Commission, World Vision, and the Livingstonia Synod AIDS Program (LISAP).

The workshop was focused on curriculum development for what is projected to be a series of training events for pastors, spouses and lay leaders around the religious issues of HIV/AIDS in the congregations: transmission modes, prevention measures, stigma and discrimination, voluntary coun…

Children's Coffins?

On my recent trip to Malawi, I visited FOMCO--one of the orphan day-care centers we support. On the road leading to the center I saw a sign advertizing wood coffins.

Children’s’ Coffins! A lot of children die in Malawi due to famine and disease. Coffin-making has become the #1 industry in Malawi, I was told. “You make coffins for the children you can’t save, so that you can save the ones you can,” my colleague Paul Moore Jr. observed.

FOMCO means Friends of Mzuzu Community Orphans—a community-based organization run by members of the community who volunteer their time and services. Established in June, 2000, the Center feeds 200-300 orphans and abandoned children their one and only meal, which is served outside to the orphans as they sit quietly on the red African dirt with their plastic bowels in hand.

Church volunteers also come daily to the FOMCO Center to help feed, clothe and care for the kids. When visitors visit, the kids love it because they get to play with donated soccer ba…

Mission Accomplished!

Trip Report complete
Results in from the field: At toal of 10,565 individuals have
benefitted from this year's Food Aid Program,7,757 being hospital patients suffering
from diseases such as TB, HIV/AIDS, Marasmus; and 2,808 being orphans and abandoned children at 8 Orphan Care Centers.
40 pastors have been trained and equipped to deal with AIDS issues in their congregations through PACCT
2 new staff hired by CitiHope Malawi to deliver and monitor the next shipments of food and medicine through CitiHope.

TRAVEL BLOG Soweto

On this last day of my mission trip, I toured SOWETO—heart and soul of the Anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa in the 70’s and 80’s. How well I remember the conflict between the White apartheid government in retrenchment and Black nationals gaining global solidarity for the justice of their cause. In both college and seminary, we as students lobbied our institutions of higher learning to divest themselves of South African corporate holdings to help break the back of the regime. We were inspired by Nelson Mandela’s long imprisonment and championed his release. We welcomed with great enthusiasm Bishop Tutu’s visits to the United States to update supporters on the resistant movement’s momentum and success. Finally, we celebrated the free election of Nelson Mandela as the first President of the new South Africa.

After 20 years, I finally had the chance to visit the sites of the Soweto uprisings. My Nazarene hosts—Linda Braaten and Kenneth and Theola Phiri—drove me into the Southwest To…

TRAVEL BLOG Johannesburg

Back at the Park Hyatt Johannesburg where I began my mission trip to Africa two weeks ago. With Mission Malawi accomplished, I am here for two nights in transit to meet with Nazarene missionary, Linda Bratten, and others who may want to partner with CitiHope.


I met two local Nazarene youth leaders, Kenneth and Theola Phiri, who along with Linda, invited me on a Safari through Pilanesberg National Park.

The wild game reserve is about 2 hours from JoBurg and covers an area of 500 km square. Since this was my first African Safari, I was excited about 'shooting' the Big Five. Here is the list of wild animals sited and shot today with a digital camera:

17 Elephants (1 single and 16 in a herd)
15 Giraffee (4 sitings)
9 Hippopotamus (before and after going underwater)
23 Impala (jumping everywhere)
3 Kudu (sampled kudu jerky today for first time
1 Black Rhino
2 White Rhino (definately cool)
17 Springbok
12 Tsessebe
12 Warthogs (none named Pumba)
13 Waterbuck
37 Wilderbeest-Blue (ugly)
44 Zebra (man…

TRAVEL BLOG Lilongwe, Malawi

Here in the capital of Malawi, the hotels are nicer and the food better than in Mzuzu. We're here for a series of meetings essential for present networking and future funding. As much as I hate meetings, our time was productive and promising with the Ministry of Health (medical programs), Ministry of Education (food program), USAID (food), World Vision (AIDS education), and Project Hope (medical aid).

The one fish we fry at each of these meetings is that Anti-Retroviral drug treatment for AIDS patients is not effective without nutritional food assistance. Can't do one without the other. AIDS orphans need meals and medicine, as well as transportation to clinics, emotional and spiritual support, and empowerment. Help us, help them, we say to those we meet.

Tomorrow, after speaking at the Nazarene Theological College, we fly to JoBurg, South Africa, before returning home.

TRAVEL BLOG Livingstonia

I preached today at the Livingstonia Mission Church--named after Dr. David Livingstone, the famous Scottish explorer, educator and medical missionary to Central Africa in the mid 19th Century who exposed the slave trade which led to its demise. Livingstone is remembered today as bringing the 3 C's to Central Africa: Christianity, Commerce and Civilization through colonialism.

The Livingstonia mission station itself was established by his successor--Dr. Robert Laws--who spent 53 years as a medical missionary and developed what is now the Central Church of Africa--Presbyterian. Today, there are over 130 churches with multiple ministries of holistic Christian care as part of the Presbyterian Synod of Livingstonia.

It was Dr. Laws who built a mission campus on the plateau overlooking Lake Malawi that became known as the “greatest achievement in Central Africa.” Today, the compound includes the mother church, primary and secondary schools, a hospital, teachers residences including Dr. …

Guest Travel Blog by Paul Moore

Good Evening:

Michael asked me to share my experience visiting some of the medical clinics we assist with medicine and supplies.

We visited a district hospital near the lake today and it was hard to see the patients. They are doing their very best, but there is so little that can be done. Lots of little kids, most of them near death or dying.

One little boy, there with his granddad and mother, had an extremely bad case of malaria. His little chest would rise and fall as he struggled for each breath. There was an almost an apathy in the level of despair. Like they had seen so much death, that it was almost expected that he should die. I didn't do so well with that. But the doctors were encouraged by our presence.

One thing I learned today was why over the counter cough syrups are so important in third world countries. If a child has pneumonia, the doctor will prescribe w/e antibiotic they can get their hands on (btw - the augmentin we delivered was a big hit!). So, while the antibiot…

Guest Travel Blog by Paul Moore

Good Morning from the warm heart of Africa!

Yesterday was a great day. Our first visits were at the inspiring orphan care centers where we deliver food. We were treated to a few songs by their volunteers and then we served the food. They have one week's left there and at the second orphanage, they ran out a month ago. Thank God the container is on it's way! As Dr. Christensen began to speak with the children and minister to them - I took a tour of their carpentry shop and sowing area. They make coffins for children there to raise money to help cover expenses. I told her how moved I was that they made coffins for children they couldn't save to raise funds for the ones they will save. Then I decided to teach them the song “Rise and shine” and played the same game I do with our Sunday school children - it was a big hit. We also visited St. Johns hospital where we saw our medicine in storage and they expressed deep gratitude for all we have given. Again, tremendous thanks was g…

TRAVEL BLOG Mzuzu, Malawi

We're staying at the CitiHope Malawi Mission Center in Mzuzu. Our internet connection has been down for 2 days. Also no hot water, several power surges, and a VCR that does not work. But I like this place. Clean, newly renovated rooms, office areas, kitchen and 2 baths. A wonderful thatched roof hut in the back yard. Secure brick fence around the property. And a property staff of three: a day watchman, a night watchman and a cook/housecleaner.

Back online after launching our PACCT program on Monday. Originally designed for 25 pastors, we have 45 pastors and NGO reps here for three days, fully engaged in the workshop on how to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS in their churches through morinformed preaching and teachirelevant education, overcoming denial and stigma, and behavior change. Two people living with HIV told us their story which put all things in perspective. I was particularly moved by Lillian, whose husband died 10 years ago, and who now has 13 kids and step kids under her ca…

TRAVEL BLOG Lilongwe, Malawi

A relatively short flight from JoBerg to Lilongwei--the capital of Malawi. We managed to get through customs with two large CitiHope boxes of augmentin antibiotics that we brought with us as "extra cargo" ahead of the next month's shipment of medicines and medical supplies from our warehouse in Andes, New York.

There at the airport to greet us upon arrival was Rev. Maurice Munthali, Deputy Gen. Secretary of the Presbyterian Synod of Livingstonia, and his wife, Thandi--our ministry partners and hosts. And Ya-Mei Huang, CitiHope's Country Director, and her husband, Dr. Bong--a pediatric public health physician with Taiwan Medical Mission--another ministry partner. And Gabriel Mosongole, CitiHope's Food Aid Program Manager, who was all smiles.

We loaded up the van and proceeded to Mzuzu where our mission center is and where our relief work continues. Tonight we stay in the guest rooms of our newly renovated mission center, and tomorrow we start the Pastoral and Congre…

TRAVEL BLOG Johannesburg, Africa

Paul Moore Jr., Vice President of Citihope, Dr. Tanya Soldak, Medical Director, and I, serving as African Regional Director, left JFK today (9/8/06) at 6pm on a 17 hour flight to Johannesburg via Dakar. We will overnight at the downtown Hyatt before catching tomorrow morning's flight to Malawi (9/10/06) where we will be met by our hosts (Rev. and Mrs. Munthali), CitiHope Country Diretor (Ya-Mei Haung) and World Children's Fund representative (Doug Kendrick), one of our major funders.

In JoBurg we enjoyed a delicious seafood dinner at the Hyatt restaurant before settling in our most comfortable bed for the night. Thank God for Gold Club membership which got us a great discount in this ***** international hotel. It was to be our last great meal before two weeks of enduring the bland diet of available food in Mzuzu, Malawi--our mission destination.

Paul's mission is to monitor food security and distribution of the 75 metric tons of emergency food our staff has delivered in par…

MAN ON A MISSION TO MALAWI

One year after my first trip to Malawi, Africa, in August 2005, I am still affected by my encounter with hundreds of AIDS orphans at three Orphan Care Centers in the north. In the photo above, I’m holding one of the HIV positive orphans at the Kutemwa Center run by Rev. Mumba (who also pastors the Presbyterian Church next door). My 15-year-old daughter, Rachel, left, accompanied me on this trip, volunteered at an HIV clinic in Mzuzu, and met with a church youth group. Together, we visited many of the 36 community-based projects—medical clinics, schools, orphan care centers, and feeding programs—sponsored by CitiHope International—a Christian humanitarian relief and development NGO—and its partners.

Today, I begin a sabbatical from Drew University where I teach pastoral theology and direct the Doctor of Ministry Program, to serve as Africa Regional Director for CitiHope International. Although I will conduct some research and continue writing during my sabbatical, this is an active leav…