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Project of the Week: In Need of Transportation for the Good News in Malawi

A car is needed to carry pastoral work to prisoners the diocese of Zomba, Malawi

In the diocese of Zomba, southern Malawi, Father Ephraim Chikwiri is chaplain to five different prisons. He not only celebrates Holy Mass with the incarcerated, but also organizes monthly retreat days and Bible study courses in which, under his guidance, the inmates reflect together on the Bible.

He gives religious instruction and provides support to prisoners in their difficult psychological and social situations. ’The Church must bring healing to a broken society and restore human souls,” he says. And he is often able to help them with their material needs as well.

“I was in prison and you visited me.”

The situation in most African prisons is often appalling, and more often than not, inmates lack even the basic necessities of life. The priest is also able to offer support and counsel to the inmates and minister to them pastorally. This is also a very important aspect of his work, otherwise there is a constant danger of prison staff failing in their duty of care—sometimes resorting to arbitrary violence, corruption or brutality.

“I was in prison and you visited me ‘(Mt 25:36). The Church has taken these words to heart and manifests a special concern everywhere for the pastoral care of prisoners. Experience has shown that this kind of prison apostolate often bears rich fruit, with former offenders again and again finding their way back onto the right path.

Acknowledging their past faults, they resolve, once they have served their time, to “go straight,” get married, have children and find an honest trade. The good news that, after repenting of their deeds, they have been forgiven by God is a source of new life to them. Often this is the first time in their lives they have experienced that they are loved by God, and that someone is taking a personal interest in them. For their lives are often a tragic history of lovelessness and confusion, a web from which they cannot disentangle themselves alone. But thanks to the grace of God and the support and accompaniment of the priest or pastoral worker, they now find the strength to break through this vicious spiral.

Father Ephraim needs a vehicle for his ministry because the prisons are often situated in remote and inaccessible regions, some of them up to 50 km away. His ageing moped, now 10 years old, was never really suitable for these journeys, but has now given up the ghost entirely. Public transport, where available in these areas, it is difficult and time-consuming, a waste of valuable time and energy that he needs to be able to devote to his proper duties.

We have promised him $40,500 for a car.

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