George’s Rotary Project
Our member George Burgess reports on his project with the Chesley Rotary club, in partnership with the Rotary Club of Luanda, to provide basic medical supplies to eleven nursing stations serving the most needy population in several regions of Angola, notably war refugees, women and children – some 10,000 patients, in fact. Two kits have been ordered so far, from the Netherlands, and the first has been successfully distributed to the nursing stations; the second is clearing customs in Luanda and will be in the nursing stations within a few months. They hope to repeat this every six months. The stations are in Luanda, Kandumbu and Kalundu, four in smaller towns such as Bunjei and Bailundu, and four more in former American and Canadian sponsored mission stations. Local physicians who are members of the Christian Medical Committees (“CMC”) supervise and support the stations, and assist with more complicated cases by volunteering a day a week.
These stations are evolving into what a locally called “medical posts” and are becoming an important part of the primary health care services of Angola. Patients receive instruction in primary health care and public health procedures, and community members are involved in supporting the construction and renovation of the nursing station buildings, while staff are developing skills in clinic administration as well as in primary and public health care.
The two key co-operating organizations in Angola are IECA (the Evangelical Church of Angola) and the aforementioned affiliated group of Angolan doctors, the CMC.
Andre’s Visit to Angola:
Another of our members, Andre M. DaCosta, has reported on his interview with Dr. Abel Ulundu in Luanda this past summer, as well as other general observations that he garnered on his trip to Angola. Some highlights of his report:
“Dr. Ulundu indicated that IECA pays import duties for medical equipment and supplies. I offered to investigate this requirement with a colleague of mine at the Ministry of the Interior in Luanda. It was my understanding in 1997 that a letter from any church organization sending equipment or supplies would eliminate the requirement of import duties if the equipment and supplies are used free of charge to the Angolan people. I will keep you posted on this important issue.
“English Medical Books: – Dr. Ulundu indicated that English medical books are welcome, especially if they refer to Tropical Medicine. Most medical students at the University in Luanda read English.
“Dr. Ulundu indicated that the following missions need urgent help: Dondi, Elende and Bungei. In Dondi the government is assisting with teachers’ salaries, but school materials are lacking. In Elende and Bungei, to date, they do not have schools.
“The Chilesso mission is preparing its centennial celebration. The hospital there is functioning with government assistance. The Chissamba and Camundongo missions are by far the most advanced in all activities. Life is returning to normal. Dr. Ulundu kindly offered to travel with me to those missions on my next visit to Angola. He would take a week off from teaching at the medical college in Luanda. The time for the visit to missions has not been determined.
“Finally, Dr. Ulundu expressed his appreciation for the contact I made and discussions on IECA projects, as well as interest in various missions. He asked me to relay appreciation and warm greetings to all friends of Angolan people.
“Church leaders and others in Angola are overwhelmed with the fast pace of reconstruction to overcome 40 years of colonial and civil war. The country is quickly running out of trained people to man positions of responsibility. People who came from villages and small towns in the interior are resisting going back due to lack of schools for their children, medical facilities and food. Therefore, Luanda is still the place to be.“The private sector is drawing qualified people from the government and churches by offering higher salaries and better conditions. The Minister of Transports told me that the Government is forced to better salaries for employees. Short, medium and long-term government plans for transportation in Angola are sound if implemented. The national land demarcation envisions new north-south railways and roads.“Because of the abundance of natural resources in Angola, countries are providing large lines of credit. China has reportedly offered up to US$2 billion and manpower to rebuild railroads. India has also offered a large line of credit for infra structure. If Angolan government officials manage all offers wisely, the people of Angola will enjoy prosperity in the years to come. We need to pray that God is with our people in Angola.
”Thank you, Andre! This is a helpful glimpse into Angola today. Apparently we also await a further report from Luis Samacumbi, Director of Operations at IECA. Luis was traveling in the interior of Angola during Andre’s visit, and could not be reached.
George Burgess wonders what role AMSF should play in Angola today, and his thoughts turn to “the need for leadership, pastors for the Church, training for women in all aspects of their function in society, and of course basic education for all. I am also interested in education for the Nurses who are running the 12 Nursing Stations scattered now all across Angola from Luanda to Saurimo to Lobito and Central Angola and now even down to Mavinga in the south. I understand that most of the nurses that are running these Nursing Stations have been trained since we were forced out of Angola in 1977. Some of our nurses are still alive and no doubt play some role even today.
“AMSF has been giving help to the Seminary, the Formacao Feminina, individual students at secondary and university level. I am not clear on how much help is given to primary school education. We do not have a clear picture on what IECA is now doing for education of children, youth and adults.”This last mentioned concern is a service that I hope future editions of the AMSF newsletter may help to provide.
Thank you for your thoughts, George.