Central Moravian Church Mission in Tanzania
In 1990 a Tanzanian pastor studying at the Moravian seminary in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, approached Doug Caldwell, the senior pastor of Central Moravian Church, to discuss a partnership between Central and his own small but growing parish in the village of Sikonge. From those initial discussions, relationships, programs, and projects have been developed that have touched the lives of nearly seventy- five thousand Tanzanians.
After several exploratory visits by Pastor Caldwell and members of the congregation, Central sent two physicians to evaluate the needs of the Sikonge Moravian Hospital. Based on that visit Central began assisting MCWT in the development of a comprehensive AIDS program consisting of three parts: prevention, treatment, and orphan care.
Using grants provided by USAID, the prevention arm was extended to every Moravian Dispensary in the western province by 2005, and all dispensaries located in the Sikonge district by 2008. At the end of that year over 60,000 people had undergone voluntary counseling and testing for HIV, and all HIV positive woman attending the antenatal clinic were offered free Viramune to prevent newborns from acquiring the infection.
Treatment with antiretroviral medications began in 2005 .Utilizing a grant from the CDC, a new out-patient clinic, and a laboratory with state of the art equipment were provided, enabling clinicians at the hospital to use the same drugs and monitoring protocols available in the United States.
During 2008 the medical aspects of the AIDS program were turned over to the Sikonge Moravian Hospital working in partnership with the Tanzanian government. Central Moravian Church, however, has continued its commitment to AIDS prevention. In cooperation with MCWT, youth conferences lasting three days have been organized to educate participants about both their church and the epidemic. The first was held on August 2007 in Tabora at the Milumbani Moravian church.
Additional conferences have been conducted at Moravian churches in the villages of Sikonge, Ipole, and Chabutwa. Two more are scheduled for December 2009. At each conference AIDS education has elicited major participation and interest.
The third component, orphan care, was begun in 2002. It provides assistance to any orphan regardless of cause. Nearly 3500 children are currently receiving school supplies and uniform, free medical care, food, clothing, and personal items such as soap and sleeping mats. An additional 400 children are attending secondary school on scholarships provided by the program.
Community development has been a major focus of the partnership. Much of this has involved assistance with education and health care. Three dormitories, five class rooms, and a dining center have been constructed at schools in the Sikonge district. A class room at the Moravian compound in Tabora serves as both a kindergarten and a Sunday school. A conference room has been added to the Sikonge Moravian hospital, as well as office and clinical space for the AIDS prevention program. A total of eight new buildings have been added to dispensaries affiliated with the hospital and six additional medical facilities have undergone major revisions.
There are now orphan centers located in the city of Tabora and three villages in the Sikonge district. These are used for storage and distribution of supplies as well as offices for the Moravian ladies who administer the program.
The partnership has been particularly active in church construction. Moravian churches have been erected in the villages of Sikonge, Mlogolo, Udongo, and most recently in Chabutwa. Completion of a Moravian church begun in the Sukuma mission field is currently under consideration.
While thirty one structures have been completed since 2003, this number does not include multiple projects that have improved the lives of the people in these villages. When electricity reached Sikonge but stopped at the hospital, Central Moravian provided the funds to extend the service to the two Moravian churches, the Moravian secondary school, Lusangi Bible school and high school, the leprosy hospital and camp, and the vocational school. Two retired pastors have received assistance with the construction of their retirement homes. Multiple government schools have received desks, books, and other teaching materials. Moravian churches have been given benches for both the main sanctuary and the Sunday school, as well as age appropriate Bible books.
The partnership’s current interest is bringing members of the Sukuma tribe to Christ. This work, which is being done in conjunction with the Society for Propagating the Gospel, is located in a remote southern portion of the Sikonge district. One tribal member, David Ng’wandu, has already completed training as an evangelist and leads the Utimule Moravian Church; another, Mary Elikana, began Bible College in spring of 2009. Working under the direct guidance of an enthusiastic young Moravian pastor, Oscar Pyumpa, this major mission field should be ripe for a bountiful harvest.