From the pulpit to the people

By Wakisa Munde, United Church of Zambia, Zambia, 2018-19 Diploma course.

I am a diaconal worker in the United Church of Zambia (UCZ), currently serving in Lukulu district of western province which is one of Zambia’s remote districts. In UCZ diaconal work falls under the ministry of social justice and community development. Diaconal workers work in the church and community responding and engaging with individuals, families and communities on different social issues. Before I went to the Training for Transformation course I only used to engage with people in the church. My work was more on the pulpit because I lacked skills and tools to get into the rest of the community. The training has empowered me with knowledge, skills and tools that have helped me to move out of the pulpit into the community.

I have a new way of thinking especially in the way I look at nature. Now I have the understanding that what happens to nature will affect me. I have also developed a new way of looking at the relationship between men and women, and seek to fight against any oppression of women. During our training I remember aunty Ntombi saying “find something that you are passionate about and run with it.” Well, when I returned to Zambia from Training for Transformation I found mine-protecting the environment.

During the Gender Reconciliation week Mike talked about “finding the crack” – an opening which gives you an opportunity to do something. When I got home I looked for those openings. In Zambia we are faced with droughts, failure of crops, hunger and load shedding. Therefore, what sent me into action was the anger I had on load shedding and the failure of my own crops. Hence, I started writing articles on Facebook that talked about Climate Change and environmental protection and received a lot of positive responses. It has helped a number of my friends including leaders in the church to discover that social media actually gives us the opportunity to share knowledge, information and ideas; so a lot of my friends and church leaders have also started posting articles about their work. They have also become more interested in environmental protection.

There is a lot of transformation in the way we are doing our community work, we have moved out of the church building into the community in which we are able to engage directly with individuals, families and community groups.

Apart from using Facebook I have started a movement which is called Friends of the Environment. Before I started, I consulted many people who helped me to strengthen my intention and to think more deeply and clearly about my objectives, who should be involved and how it should be run. I identified some individuals and groups within the church that would help out in the vision by contributing resources, skills and knowledge. We started by donating food to the people that were affected by droughts, while teaching them about environmental protection and climate-change-resilient methods of farming. One method that I emphasised was early crop plantation; this has worked well as many farmers by this time have planted and their crops have grown, which give us hope that even if we face droughts in the coming months, we will still have a good harvest.

I further started planting trees at schools and churches and I wrote and talked to the District Commissioners to push a policy which would direct all the schools in the district to have a fruit garden in which different fruit trees would be planted.

In short, Training for transformation has empowered me with knowledge, skills and tools that are helping me get into the community to address a lot of social issues. It has also developed a new passion in me to save Mother Earth and speak. I will therefore continue to look for all the cracks that would make me act. My intention is to continue practicing and exploring tools and skills from TFT for they are all rich and helpful in my work as a diaconal worker in the UCZ.