Fr. Raphael Mponda delivered a message of thanks to members of St. John’s Anglican Church here last Thursday evening. Through a special presentation entitled “Come to the Waters,” Fr. Mponda showed those on hand the blessings their monthly donations have brought to the people of Malawi in Africa. “Thank you for the support you have provided to my home country. I cannot describe in words what it means to us or how grateful I am for it,” said Fr. Mponda. The pews at St. John’s were filled by people listening to Fr. Mponda’s words and learn about his home country of Malawi, which is located in southern Africa. The special presentation began around 7 p.m. and carried on for about two hours while Fr. Mponda shared pictures of his parish and thankful Malawians on a large screen at the front of the altar. He shared stories with the group, answered questions they had, and talked about issues that constantly plague the people of Malawi. He spoke of his childhood and his family, who remained there while he travelled to Canada. Fr. Mponda and his wife, Ester, spend a majority of their time helping the people of their homeland to improve their quality of life. Through training gardens, they teach local Malawians how to farm and about modern techniques for soil conservation and crop rotation. They’re also drilling wells for drinking water in villages, and are building schools and medical facilities to help deal with the problems in the area. Fr. Mponda described the importance of mosquito nets to youngsters’ health and how they’ve made it their mission to provide a mosquito net to every family that has a newborn child for their protection. The average life expectancy in Malawi is 15—mainly because kids fall ill to malaria, an infectious disease that is widespread in tropical and subtropical regions, including parts of Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Malaria parasites are transmitted by female mosquitoes. The parasites multiply within red blood cells, causing symptoms of anemia (light-headedness, shortness of breath, tachycardia, etc.), as well as other general symptoms, such as fever, chills, nausea, and ’flu-like illness. In severe cases, malaria can cause coma and death. Malaria transmission can be reduced by preventing mosquito bites with mosquito nets and insect repellents, or by mosquito control by spraying insecticides inside houses and draining standing water where mosquitoes lay their eggs. Helping to protect others from the disease is highly important to Fr. Mponda as he was infected by the parasite as a young child. He explained how he was a fortunate child because his father was a doctor and had access to healing medicines that saved his life. There is no cure for malaria. Once a person is infected with it, they will live with it for the rest of their life. “I’m pleading with the people to use mosquito nets to protect the youths. Everyone is so thankful if they have nets,” said Fr. Mponda. The Diocese of Northern Malawi has been using some of the donations from St. John’s Anglican Church to purchase nets for $5 (U.S.) to help with the fight to prevent the spread of malaria. The outreach committee of St. John’s Anglican Church has chosen to provide financial relief to the Diocese of Northern Malawi over the last few years, and is proud to be extending their partnership and support into the future. “I can stand here today and say we are proud to be able to send support to you its the least we can do,” said Fr. Wayne McIntosh. “I’m positive it’s something we, as a parish, want to continue for a lengthy period to come,” he added. For more information on how to donate to the cause, contact Gord McTaggart at 274-6883.