Our twinning with Engcongolweni, a rural village area in northern Malawi, goes back to 2007. The relationship has been beneficial to both congregations with each having a deeper understanding of the other’s situation and how that impacts on people’s lives and faith. The constancy of the Christian faith is the bedrock under-pinning the relationship and overcomes the economic imbalance that is evident between our two communities. Nurturing economic progress is not specifically the role of a church twinning but Dalgety Parish Church recognises that social justice is a prime concern in helping a community rise out of poverty. With its links to the Dalgety Bay Friends of Engcongolweni (a separate charity sadly no longer functioning), and others, the Church helped with a scheme to bring clean water to the community. Serving over 7,500 people, this continues to bring both health and educational benefits to the community and has engendered community resilience and sustainability.

In support of the Dalgety Bay Friends of Engcongolweni, the Church also became involved in helping to build and stock two pig farms. The aim was to develop a successful breeding programme and use the profits to provide financial assistance to vulnerable groups within the community, such as paying secondary school fees for girls. Health benefits from an improved diet was a by-product and was the spreading of manure on the impoverished soil to increase maize production and reduce the use of artificial fertiliser. Ultimately, sustainability of the project proved difficult.

Since 2007 a number of ministers have been in post at Engcongolweni. The Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) tends to move its ministers every few years and the current minister is Rev Brown Mwafulirwa. Brown and his wife, Victoria, married in November 2001 and they have three children. After leaving school, Brown, 45, became a primary school teacher. In 2002, he received a call to enter the ministry and he undertook his studies, under the auspices of the Synod of Livingstonia, at Zomba Theological College, graduating with a Licentiate in Theology. He subsequently completed a Diploma in Theology at the University of Malawi and in 2010 embarked on a Bachelor of Arts (Theology and Religious Studies) degree with Mzuzu University. Brown is responsible for a wide-spread parish with nine prayer-houses under his stewardship.

Some facts about Malawi

Malawi, like other places, is recovering from the effects of Covid but is continuing to have to contend with other life-threatening diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and the continuing effect of HIV/AIDS, with over 1 million people suffering from the disease. With climate change, rains do not have the same reliability and there is a fear that poor harvests due to insufficient rain will become a familiar pattern. Malawi has a population approaching 21 million, with 80% living in rural areas where the economy is largely agricultural. Per capita income is around £390 per annum and 70% of the population live below the poverty line (calculated as below daily income of £1.53). Primary schooling is free but nearly one third of the eligible pupils do not attend; and secondary school fees can only be afforded by the better-off. Two-thirds of the population can read and write at the age of fifteen. Life expectancy at birth is around 63 years and the population is served by one doctor for every 50,000 people.