These are some emails from those we are joining in Angola, describing various aspects of the work. I think you will appreciate the reason for our enthusiasm in being used in this part of the world and we hope you will share our enthusiasm and further partner with us in this work.
From Steve Foster, a surgeon and the leader of the group (www.ceml.net) that we are joining in Lubango.
My prayer for the last 28 yrs ever since I climbed a volcano into an unreached peoples group the Vakuando was that we would be allowed to see a ministry develop that was focused on those who have no way of hearing the Gospel and no access to health care if someone didn’t go to them. In the southwest of Angola these people groups vary in size from a few thousand to up to a hundred thousand they are scattered over a region of 80,000 sq kms from the mouth of the Cunene river to almost Benguela over to Tchinkombe. Resources to reach them are scarce. I think we will have to be as creative as we can be to envision a strategy that comes bathed in prayer, GPS coordinates, and lots of sweat.
Another email from Steve…
At the outset we are looking at regular visits to the Health Post at Tchinkombe ranch some 200 km south east of Lubango where a work amongst the unreached Mungambwe has been started by my brother and sister-in-law some 20 yrs ago They have 300 people on the 50,000 acre cattle ranch and serve several farms around them with an aggregate of several thousand people. At present, children’s vaccine teams come once a month from our sister work at rio de Huila. There are now perhaps 50 Mungambwe following the Lord out of an estimated 120,000. A new air strip will be inaugurated this week as at times the trip can be 4-5 hrs by 4×4 as heavy sand can be real challenge.
The second site is run by the Evangelical Lutherans at Chavikua 400 km due south of us here in Lubango in the deep Cunene province. It is 12 hrs by 4×4 has no airstrip yet but is squarely amongst the Ovahimba people reckoned by National Geographic to be the 4th most primitive peoples on earth. Known number of Christians in Angola are a few dozen max.
The third site is 500 km northeast at Cavango. My sister Shelley, a nurse midwife and husband Peter are based there. We have resurrected a destroyed hospital as a tiny clinic. Local staff are 4, only two have a basic nursing education (grade 6 ed). Population with in 50 km is about 20,000. It is amongst the Ganguela tribe and about a half dozen churches can be found but very little outreach to the surrounding villages is happening. Health needs are horrendous, as the closest govt structure is 95km away. An airstrip is under construction but for now we are picked up 33km away at the village post of Chinhama. Huge potential exists to pilot projects in primary care.
The next site is the village of 500 in Mukuando set in a volcano due north of Lubango about 90 nautical miles or 400 km by road and 12 hrs drive plus 6 hrs hike up to the 8000 ft mountain. There has been a witness amongst these folk for 28 yrs with a few meeting regularly. The clinic building is in ruins for lack of regular visitors and lack of a nurse or health promotor.
The next place is Catota Hospital about 600 km due east from Lubango 90 km north of city of Menongue. The govt has rebuilt part of the hospital but no one has yet stepped forward to provide materials, furniture or equipment. Immediate population around 20,000 and they are hopeful someone will come one day. Starting regular clinics there would be step one and then, as God provides, getting the 60 bed hospital on its feet. There are five or six local Angolan nurses with little training or supervision. Catota was once a major mission station and hospital center from 1945 thru to 1975 but was destroyed in ’75. Closest air-strip is 10 km north at Mumbue.
Kalukembe Hospital 200 km northeast from Lubango is a major 200 bed hospital without any MD’s. Serves about half a million. Run by a denomination called IESA. All work (including 200 caesarians per year) is done by nurses. I go once a month for 3 days, doing 40 operations and 70 consults. The need is huge and more regular, frequent visits are just waiting to be done. They have a nurse and Lab tech course. I go by plane 40 mins or 3 hrs by car
I am investigating a work amongst the Ovimbundu people of central Angola in the Bailundo district about 500 kms north east 90 km past city of Huambo. The local folk of 18,000 outside the post about 18kms have invited me to start a work. They have land and permission from village chief but no money to build or equipment has come forward. What will happen there remains to be seen.
Rio de Huila 37 km from Lubango accessible by good road is set amongst about 16,000 Nyaneka/Olomhuila where my colleague Dr Karen Henriksen is based. There is a small OR, TB work and local consultations. It has languished due to insufficient time on my part to go there regularly. There is a Bible translation project underway there as the Nyaneka language is the largest subsaharan language without the New testament.
Regions where we have a beginning around Lubango are based out from Tchinkombe ranch 200 km south east of Lubango. People group largely Mungambwe. Total number of Mungambue perhaps 80,000.Total number of Christians perhaps 100. Work has been done amongst them over 20 yrs.
Based out of the Lutheran clinic at Chavikua about 80 km from Oncocua in Cunene province or 380 km south of Lubango, no airstrips yet but about 25-30,000 within 60 km radius. People groups are Ovandimba and Ovahimba.
We have visited two sites and there is significant probability that local initiatives will happen based on what we saw of their church buildings. Number of Ndimbas and Himbas said to be around 100,000 known Christians around 50. Work is about 16 yrs old.
Around the municipality of Humpata where the hospital is based. In southern edge about 40 -60 km are several villages where little health care goes on access at times only on foot. People group are Olomhuila, around 20,000. Number of Olomhuila Christians said to be 5000 amongst a total of a quarter million. Work in south Humpata began 20yrs ago. Based out of Cavango 550 km north and east from Lubango in Huambo province, some thirty villages running 60 km north and 80 km south total population is 25,000 people are Ganguelas and Umbundu. Work began in the 1950’s with 30yr hiatus from ’75 thru 2005
In a crater of a volcano 180 km north of Lubango called Sierra de Neve about 500 people live called the Ovakuando. There is an airstrip and a derelict building. Sporadic work has been done over the last few years. Work began there in the late 80’s. Number of Christians only 50. We are investigating northern Huambo province. There are places further east in Bie and Kuando Kubango that need whole teams as Catota hospital is being rebuilt by the government and needs staff. It is a 40 bed hospital 85km north of Menongue in area of about 60,000. Closest airstrip is 10 km away. People group largely Ganguela. Gospel has been there for 70 yrs.
My bias at the moment is for those who haven’t heard the Gospel once so that is where I want to begin and then as God provides and gives direction and people, we move…
Another email from Steve…
There are an estimated 8-10 people groups in the deep southwest triangle of Angola who are still unreached. Some 5-6 of the language groups fit into an Herero family of languages and understand Herero spoken in Namibia. Some work on the Namibian side by Dutch Reformed South African Missionaries has made some head way, but only on the Namibian side. The Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission has had some work in Oncocua some 450 km south of Lubango as have two other Alliance of Evangelical Denominations. However no truly coordinated work has happened. The other 3 groups are also unreached but we have had scattered contacts and occasional visits from these folk always asking for help. There are three little groups of Dimba people, totaling a perhaps 200 amongst 50,000. Some 18 yrs ago a survey was done by Brian Lane, then of AEF, but I don’t have a copy of his written work. The first place to start would certainly involve an adequate survey and sketch of the present task.
Most people outside of town don’t speak Portuguese, less than 5% of Adults. Some places one can find schools but only near the highways so even kids don’t speak Portuguese. Finding ways to connect is our challenge. Outlying clinics have identified patients with surgical problems for whom we’ve been able to help. Our fee structure actually makes these people feel proud as they are cattle people and usually pay upfront for their surgery. This week an old van DImba woman with gr 4 prolapse of her uterus came in walking over 300 km. She is just thrilled to be able to go home without her uterus banging her knees. These folk keep inviting us to visit them but I simply haven’t had the time or team to send their way.
The Govt is asking for help in getting primary networks created for the 47% of Angolans who are outside of anything currently being done…
From GP, Karen Henriksen, working with a rural group in SW Angola. I haven’t met Karen yet…
(I’ve been)… sick with malaria for two weeks, better now. It is part of life here, and death. It is the number one cause of death of children age 5 and under. I was in neighboring village Kahima today at a youth camp to do a health workshop. As part of the intro I asked everyone to stand. Then I asked those who had no brothers and sisters who had died to sit down. Of more than 90 present, only 3 sat down. Only 3 of the 90 youth has not had a brother or sister die. I was floored. I knew already that Angola has 25% child mortality, that is, 25% of children will not survive past age 5. However to see all these youth standing, each family having experienced the death of at least one of its children, was overwhelming. When I left Canada to serve in Africa I had been to but one funeral in my 34 years. The youth here cannot count the number of funerals they have been to already. I cannot count the number of funerals I have been to here in my 19+ years in Angola. We had four funerals this month, 3 family members of our staff and also Cati, our pharmacist, died 7 years after having become paraplegic in a car accident.
The basic health messages of how to prevent the vast majority of these deaths must get out. Simple measures like hand washing, mosquito nets, recognizing danger signs in children, vaccines, family spacing, good nutrition. Each youth group of the 6 churches present at the workshop today received a copy of book written by Unicef/WHO/Unicef which puts forward in simple terms the 10 most important life saving messages that need to be promoted in each family and community. Praise the Lord for the keen interest of the youth, their love for the Lord and their commitment to learn and help their families and neighbors. Each group resolved to keep on learning and put into practice healthy measures.
Please pray that we at Rio da Huila Hospital will intensify our visits and teaching in the communities, sharing the love of Jesus. May He be glorified. Pray for breakthroughs in people’s understanding and embracing of new habits. Many are in bondage to spirit-based unhealthy practices which are difficult to break away from without first knowing the all-powerful all-victorious Saviour Jesus.
Pray especially for each nurse and nurse-aid at Rio da Huila, key people, seen as leaders in the community: Novais (head nurse), Eliseu, Bibiana, Rebeca, Navita, Rita, Catiti, Mateus, Kumena, Beatriz, Agusto, Kakolo, Josefa, Minga. Please pray that each one will draw close to the Lord, share His heart of love for the lost and needy, worship Him, give themselves 100% to the Lord, be HIs voice and hands, know His love and joy, seek His kingdom…