By Fr. Serge St-Arneault, M.Afr Mary Mother of God Parish is situated at Nabvutika (the name means, “I suffer”) a very poor compound on the northwest outskirt of Chipata. Zambia. About 15000 people live there without any land or the possibility of having even a vegetable garden. The soil is rocky and the slope of the mountain nearby is unproductive. Everyone needs to find ways to get some income to survive. Side roads and local markets are full of vendors selling vegetable, charcoal, etc. brought from Malawi through the mountains and other areas. Life is tough, especially for sick and old people. The town of Chipata, which hopes to become a ‘city’, provides electricity and water for those who can afford but no health clinic is available. I was privileged to walk around part of the compound with Fr Joe Mc Menamin the Parish Priest and a group of dedicated women. The compound starts from the crossing gate leading to the church. The last remaining few hundred meters or so of the road leading to town is in bad condition and impassable during the rain season. Soon, we entered into a house to greet an old women who is partially paralysed following a stroke. Then, we move on through small and crooked paths to greet more people. The houses are small and poorly constructed. The Parish is involved in building a house for poor widows; a pre-school and clinic for the people in the compound. From there, we stopped at Anastasio Kolowa Banda’s house; a tiny shack with thatch roof. Old but quite alert, Anastasio, having lived some years in Tanzania speaks Kiswahili better than the local language. We exchanged few words in Swahili to the amazement of the women walking with us. After a long stride, just before going back to the church, we stopped to see Maria Kabwe, Bemba speaker. I fell on my back while trying to sit on a small stool put on the slight slope facing Amai Maria. The neighbour quickly brought me a chair. Greeting her was very nice. Her vision is restricted because of cataracts but her mind is clear and her character cheerful. She like so many others is totally dependent on the St Vincent de Paul organization for material support, food etc. Joe walks through the compound each and every day. Indeed, he needs good legs to be the Parish Priest of Nabvutika. His mission is challenging and inspiring. He is assisted by a diocesan priest for weekdays and Sunday Masses. Situated at ten kilometres from the new Formation Centre for the Missionaries of Africa, Nabvutika offers an ideal place for pastoral work for forthcoming candidates of the Missionaries of Africa.
Many thanks to Joe, a truly good fellow … with good legs!