Br. Robert Malusa, a Salesian from Long Island, volunteered for the missions and in 2013 was assigned to Lilongwe, Malawi, in the Zambia Vice-Province. He has since been given a new assignment at Lufubu, Zambia. His letter has been edited for style and clarity.
Hey all! Here’s a little update in case you don’t get my Facebook updates.
We have been VERY busy—Fr. Lupicino [Kim], our SLM volunteers Katie [Strosnider] and Martin [Gonzalez], our newest arrival and aspirant Chris Mwelwa, and I.
Our Agriculture School
We are progressing with our school. We have added an hour of practical time on our farm into our school schedule. I still don’t believe it is enough, but I think we may add more in the future. the school has great morale, however. We just went on an education tour to the Kawambwa tea estate. It is about 80 km [50 miles] away, and we went via our truck (a Mitsubishi Fuso). The tea estate was established by some Indian group in the 1960s or so. It has been abandoned and picked up again several times without much success. This time it is run by the Zambian government, and they have a group who are running the place who looks determined to make it a success. There are about 500 hectares [1,250 acres] of tea plants that are about 40 years old. Thank God they live for 100 years, so there are still 60 more years from these plants! So if any of you want any Zambian tea, just let me know! What I liked best was when we tried to give them a “little something” after our tour, they refused and said that we should use it for our “kids”/students. They said: “They (the youths) are our future.” Nice!
Well, we are on our feet these days. The last batch of layers [hens] that were donated by those of you who helped has gotten the farm to its feet. We are just about to replace the old layers. There are two groups. The old, 800 that are gone, and the new, 1,000. We sold the 800 that were no longer laying eggs for half of what we paid for them since the people here love to eat these chickens they call “local chickens.” They say these don’t have any chemicals in them to make them big as a “broiler” would be. So if all goes well, we will pick up the new batch with our truck on May 7 in Lusaka. Please pray for that, as all of this supports our agriculture school and will make us self-sustainable.
This is going extremely well. The youth [center] and oratory were always separated from our church a little for a reason that is too long to explain here. But I have been trying and trying to get this to change, and I think it is finally working. We have found three youth leaders, Winfrida, Cesar, and Michael, who have been absorbing the Salesian system of reason, religion, and kindness along with what seems to be a deep faith. They have been with us for a while, and we’ve been trying to give the kids who come to the oratory a little general worldly education along with an education in faith, but because school and faith are not always popular, the program was always small. But now it is growing. We will have a retreat for our youths this coming Easter. It will be Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. The good news is that the three have got a group of leaders together who are really trying to make these three days awesome and faith-filled. We will see how this unfolds. We have had problems in the past with the youths. They just want things for free from compassionate Salesians and were given them in the past, which has spoiled them a little in the past. I guess I am not so compassionate, or I don’t have the means to be so compassionate (I mean the money part of the compassion) 😊.
We have talked with the government and told them that our youths are really struggling in these schools. After much deliberation, we came together and decided jointly to open up a preschool to help the situation. We agreed that we Salesians would help the government with some of the materials and give them some space, and they would provide the teachers. So as of now, we are waiting to hear the results of our fund-raising so we can start this coming April in Term 2 if all goes well. All of us are excited about the idea, especially since Katie’s schooling is in early education and could help the whole staff get the project off the ground.
This project is still not off the ground. The company Zamtel, who originally came to set up their internet at our place, says they are not able to get us the internet after installing all the equipment. They say they “can’t find the signal.” The other place I priced out with a satellite internet signal raised their monthly rates too high. So now we have this person looking into another internet provider. I think he has found one, and we should have internet soon.
So please continue to pray for us.
Portrait: Fr. Mike Mendl
Lufubu: Br. Rob Malusa